“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher
Learning never ends. We are constantly taking in information and subsequently coming to conclusions. A lot of learning is necessary and happens subconsciously. Like recognizing different social norms, or figuring out how to “be an adult,” as many people seem to be doing now a days. But then there’s intentional learning, like going to college or learning a new instrument.
I love the above quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti. For me, it’s a reminder that life is a huge learning process. It also sparked a thought – since we’re learning every day anyways, why not purposefully pick the things we want to learn about? It’s time to take charge of our learning!
The internet is the perfect tool to help us keep our minds sharp, facilitate lifelong learning, and bolster our resumes. I’ve tried many online courses and learning platforms since graduating college. I have come up with a list of the 10 best platforms for online courses to help you take charge of your learning.
Many of the resources below are free, with accreditation certificates available for a small upgrade. Even the platforms that cost money have free trials – so don’t let the cost stop you. You can learn a lot for free in 30 days.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of my links, I may receive a commission or credit at no additional cost to you.
Lifelong Learning: Best Platforms for Online Courses
There are thousands of online classes available for anyone looking to learn. What have you always wanted to know more about? There’s a class for that! Art, history, science, childcare, cooking, music, languages, computers, literature, farming, drawing, cyber security, starting your own business, Microsoft office, photoshop… the list goes on and on!
This is a great website to hone in on improving your creativity and business abilities. Experts in business, creative skills, technology and lifestyle subjects share their knowledge in video courses. Then, you get a chance to practice what you’ve learned with a relevant online project. Skillshare also offers a 2 month free trial for new users!
2. iTunes U
It’s the learning app you never knew you had. If you have an iPhone, type iTunes U in your search bar and witness an entire world of learning open up right in front of you. I admittedly did not know about this gem until my boyfriend recently informed me of it. I am very disappointed that I missed out on using it for the past few years.
This app has thousands of recorded university-level classes from esteemed colleges around the world. Additionally, there are K-12 options, as well as “collections” of resources (like ebooks, apps, TV shows, podcasts, and courses) on certain topics. iTunes U is completely FREE, don’t let this incredible learning resource go to waste.
edX is similar to iTunes U in the fact that it is a database of classes and lectures from universities around the world. However, edX is much more interactive. It is set up like a real online college class, with assignments, learning modules, discussion boards, and videos. Some of the classes start and end on certain days, while others are always available through the edX archive feature. The classes are free, and certificates for finishing and passing the classes are available for a small fee.
Audible and Kindle are great options for learning through books. Although I personally prefer real, physical books, I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t like listening to lectures (I know they can get boring!), Audible is a great option for listening to books. Kindle is an app/service to download and read eBooks. Both Audible and Kindle have fiction and nonfiction books available to spark your imagination, critical thinking, and learning spirit. Try Audible’s 30 day trial here, and try Kindle’s 30 day trial here.
5. The Great Courses
The Great Courses offers awesome lectures on just about any topic you can think of. This is my favorite option for learning about topics that aren’t available in a university or formal setting. They have everything from birding, to efficient traveling, to how to write best-selling fiction, to quantum physics for beginners. Some of the prices can be a bit steep, but they always have courses on sale.
If you want to try a course out before purchasing, consider signing up for their free trial of Great Courses plus. You get 14 days of unlimited access to all of their courses – score!
Professional Development: Best Platforms for Online Courses
These are the platforms and apps best suited for gaining certificates or degrees to help you advance in your career. Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your employer to pay for a certificate or course, if you think it will help you do your job better. Asking shows initiative and commitment to your job. On top of that, if they say yes, you get free professional training.
1. Future Learn
Future Learn offers 3 types of online courses: short courses, in-depth programs, and online degrees. The topics they offer are specific and tailored to helping professionals grow in their careers. However, Future Learn can also be used for learning about personal interests. Browse the categories and plans here.
Knowing how computers work and how to code is becoming more and more valuable. Companies offer big bucks to people who can protect their servers and information from getting hacked. Edureka is an awesome platform for learning in-depth and expert information about cyber security and coding. They have options for single courses, or entire online Master’s programs. There are online tutors and student support services available for enrolled students, which helps you get the most out of what you’re learning.
3. LinkedIn Learning
Not only does LinkedIn help us connect with other professionals and potential employers, but it can also help build our resumes. Develop your skills in project management, coding, Excel, graphic design, marketing, and more. LinkedIn Learning offers some excellent courses for professional development that will take your career to the next level. They offer a month-long free trial to test out any courses you’re interested in. I also suggest checking out if your local public library has access for patrons, like mine does!
Alison has free courses for anyone looking to learn more in a specific field. My favorite features of this platform are the Career Guide and Learning Paths. The Career Guide is divided into several industries that then have different careers listed with corresponding classes that go with that career. This is a great place to look for some guidance if you’re looking to change job fields. The Learning Paths have lists of different learning objectives (for example, learning Chinese), and then 18-20 hours of resources for achieving those objectives. Sign up for Alison is free, and certain classes are available for a fee.
This platform is very similar to edX. Classes from universities are made into interactive online courses that can be taken for free. You can obtain specialization certificates, or a full-on degree through Coursera. They have some very interesting specialization topics – one that caught my eye was “Self-Driving Cars” offered through the University of Toronto.