Top 10 Useful Courses You Can Do Online (For Free)

In today’s fast moving world, many people find it hard to attended lectures and complete courses in the brick-and-mortar buildings. Thank god the Internet gives us the convenience of studying at home and, more often than not, for free.

10. How to Learn

learning to learn

Coursera offers perhaps the best learning course available; ‘Learning how to Learn’. This course covers the fundamentals on learning techniques by experts in the arts, literature, maths, science, sports and many other disciplines. Students are educated on how the brain uses two different learning modes to store information and how best to utilise this information in order to learn memory techniques. This means being able to tackle even the toughest of subjects. Those who sign up will be fed information to turbocharge their learning, with helpful tips on test taking along the way. This course isn’t just useful for students, it also teaches ways to avoid procrastination and aims to change your life through an increase in productivity. Over 10 hours of resources are available through the completely free course. For those who want a certificate upon completion, an option is available which is co-signed by both Coursera and the University of California.

9. How to Reason and Argue

Also offered by the kind folks at Coursera, this course teaches students the importance of reasoning and how to do it well. Simple yet vital rules are presented, whilst educating about the common mistakes people usually make and how to avoid these tempting pitfalls. Arguments from politicians, teachers and even car salesmen are analysed to show how the fundamentals of constructing an argument can help you decide what to believe and what to do. The course is presented in English (with an option for Spanish subtitles) and takes place across 12 weeks, with an estimated 6 hours of study per week including short exercises after each segment. Every 3 weeks, a quiz is presented for those enrolled to assess what they have learnt so far. Upon completion, a certificate can be ordered, co-signed by Duke University. No special prerequisites are needed, and the course is suggested from high school level and upwards.


8. Science & Cooking

science and cooking

Tops chefs and Harvard professors have collaborated on this course, exploring how everyday cooking and haute cuisine can illuminate principles in physics and engineering, and vice versa.
Spanning 15 weeks, each week has chefs reveal the secrets to some of their most famous culinary creations, whilst professors explain the science behind the recipe. Topics range from soft matter materials, to elasticity and diffusion. Students are encouraged to take part by following along with each recipe, but by making sure to take precise measurements and careful observations they will learn to ‘cook like a chef and think like a scientist’. Four instructors take part in the course and it is estimated around 4-6 hours a week are needed to fully engage the material. Upon completion of the free course, students can opt in for a $150 certificate, although this is not compulsory.

7. Career & Employability

The University of London, along with Coursera, has launched an ‘Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills’ course. Unlike other courses which are discipline-specific, this helps to analyse your own strengths and skills, and how to most effectively articulate them to future employers or colleges. The course spreads out across 6 weeks of study and asks the student to look inwards. The syllabus asks questions such as what your goals are, what you can offer, how does networking work and what are the benefits of it. Although core activities are listed each week, the course is non-linear and students are free (in fact, encouraged) to jump to different parts of the syllabus as they feel fit. The lectures remain self-contained and no previous reading is necessary. Also, any references to articles are also nicely summed up, should you choose not to seek them out.

6. Chess

chess

The Game of Kings that originated in India as early as 280 CE is easy to play, but difficult to master. That’s where the ChessAcademy comes in. By simply creating a free account, users are able to view a whole plethora of videos from chess masters before moving on to puzzles and interactive exercises and playing games to test their skills and newfound knowledge. Each lesson, or ‘path’, is broken down into a series of subsections ending with a simple quiz so users are able recap all they’ve learnt. Completing each path gains points viewable on your profile and more points are gained as the difficulty of each path or game increases. Currently, games can only be played against AI but there are plans to introduce a ‘versus’ mode against similarly skilled users. So if you feel like becoming the next Grand Master, ChessAcademy might just be your answer.

5. Programming

Programming is a skill that many people want to master, but often feel overcome at where to exactly start. Harvard has kindly stepped in to help by offering their CS50 course with an introduction to computer science. The entry level course helps students how to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently. A whole range of topics are included such as; data structures, resource management, cryptography, and web languages including C, PHP, HTML and CSS. In 2014, the course became the largest course offered by Harvard. To graduate, students are given a set of 9 problems (similar to programming assignments) and must earn a satisfactory score. The problems are expected to take between 10 and 20 hours each, so this is not a simple drop-in course as it requires true dedication, although it can be taken at your own pace. The CS50 course is free to enrol in and upon graduation a verified certificate can be bought for just $90.

4. Excel

excel

Excel is a program developed by Microsoft for the use of spreadsheets and quickly became the industry standard. Most people will be required to use Excel at some point in their career and learning the basics can help you become that much more efficient. Chandoo.org offers an Excel course that takes you through the 6 core areas that make up the basics. Users are given a very quick overview to begin with, covering simple things such as where the formula bar is and what it functions as, before delving into topics covering formatting, creating reports, formulas and how to use Excel productively. There are over 24 hours of training videos, 50 downloadable workbooks, and over 5,000 people have already graduated from the course. Prices start from $97 and it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

3. Touch Typing

keybr

As the name would suggest, touch typing is the ability to type on a keyboard without having to rely on sight to hit the correct key. Touch typing can dramatically improve an individuals typing speed and accuracy. The generally accepted typing speed is 41 words per minute, whilst professional typists can exceed 100. Typing speed increases with practice and courses such as those found on the free-to-use website keybr.com ensure that there are no weak keys. The site monitors how long it takes for you to hit a key and changes the course to suit your needs. It guarantees that you won’t repeat the same lesson over and over, meaning each lesson is fresh and new. Users are able to monitor their typing speed, how many errors they occur and it also gives a typing score and achievements for those who want bragging rights.

2. Accounting

Accounting is useful for pretty much everyone and it is often regarded as the language of business. Learnaccountingforfree.com offers just that – four accounting courses for absolutely no price. The courses cover everything from introductory managerial and business and financial accounting before moving on to expanded courses. Students work at their own pace, and have the ability to speed up sections they are familiar with, without losing any crucial information. A full online glossary is present, explaining any terms they may be unfamiliar with simple, easy-to-understand definitions. The course was developed by Norm Nemrow, an accountant and CFO who worked with Brigham York University – the number 1 accounting University in the country. The course is of exceptional high quality and is even recommended by Harvard University to its incoming MBA students who have not taken any lessons in accounting. Over 50,000 users have signed up and taken the full course.

1. Duolingo

duolingo

Duolingo is a free language learning and crowdsourced text translation website and app (available on the iPhone and Android platforms). Launched in 2011, the platform has developed rapidly and now sports over 60 million registered users. Users can choose to learn from 10 languages including French, German and Spanish, with a number planning to launch soon such as Ukrainian, Russian and even Klingon. Users gain XP as they progress through the course, lesson by lesson. Users are also presented with a ‘strength bar’ for each lesson which gradually fades over time – encouraging students to redo lessons to keep the information fresh. An external study has reviewed the course and believes that just 34 hours of study can yield the same results in reading and writing a language as can be achieved through a beginners course at a college – which usually takes in excess of 130 hours (and a whole lot more money).