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Free Learning: More than 100 Sources – and Counting

by Jeff Cobb

Note: Free learning opportunities have skyrocketed in recent years. I actually wrote this post some years ago – before Khan Academy, MOOCs, and all sorts of other options came along. It’s past due for an update. I’ll be working on one soon, so if you have resources you would like to see added here – or updates/perspectives on the ones already listed – please be sure to comment or contact me.

I’ve been a fan of open education for some time and recently have been intrigued by the revival of the “free” business model debate by Chris Anderson and Kevin Kelly, among others. So, conflating the two, I decided to undertake what turned into a “pulling a thread on a sweater” exercise and see how much free learning I could find on the Web relatively quickly. I’ve included some notes and observations on this exercise below, but first I’ll cut to the chase and offer a brief table of contents for what follows:

Now for the notes and observations:
First, this is obviously nowhere near a comprehensive list. There are who knows how many sites out there, and for the purposes of this post, I have confined myself to sites that offer relatively formalized free learning experiences and state this as their explicit purpose. Truth is, there is almost no place on the Web where you can learn something.

Next, I made an effort to categorize things in a relatively logical way below and even to start a key of sorts:

  • T – Text-based offerings (usually with still graphics)
  • A – Audio without Video
  • V – Video offerings
  • I – Interactive
  • C – Offered as customer education, i.e. part of a corporate marketing strategy or as a way to promote sales of other products.

I clearly have no future as a librarian, however, as I finally felt like I had to give up on pursuing this and go back to earning a living, spending time with my family, etc. Perhaps I will manage to fill it over time. (Or kind readers can share their knowledge of these sites in the comments.)

The list follows. Please let me know any major gaps you see – I plan to keep adding new sites over time. So, let me know any sites you think need to be listed here.

Jeff Cobb
Mission to Learn

If you enjoy what you read here on Mission to Learn, I encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feed or use the e-mail subscription form at the top left side of this page.

Online Tutorials and How-to Sites

There are starting to be quite a lot of these sites and you have to wonder just how many can manage to stay in business. Still, I think a probable upside of all the competition will be an increase in expectations and the resulting quality of the offerings.

“Big Idea” and Debate Sites

Big Think is the newest entrant here. I am sure there are other sites like this that I don’t yet know about. These are places where you can see some of your favorite gurus being gurus and add your two cents.

If you enjoy what you read here on Mission to Learn, please consider subscribing by RSS feed or e-mail. – JTC

Higher Education and Open Education Initiatives

This list won’t come close to doing justice to what is going on out there in the world of open education, but suffice to say that between universities, NGOs, and foundation funded projects, there is practically nothing that you can’t learn online, and in many cases, take the underlying intellectual property and re-configure it to your own needs under an Creative Commons or other “copyleft” license.

Free CE,CME, and CEU

I could post another 100 links just in this area alone. It is tricky terrain though. You have to pay attention to the fine print that tells you things like when the availability of credit expires or whether just the course/article content and not the credit (or vice-versa) is free. Particularly in the health arena, most of the “free” CE tends to be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and medical supply manufacturers–not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. Health-related CE also tends to be some of the less-inspired learning out there–often, for instance, credit is attached to nothing more than a journal article.

Topical Areas

All of the above links are for destinations where a wide variety of topics are covered, but there are also any number of Web sites or YouTube videos covering a single topic or a handful of related topics. The list below is admittedly a fairly eclectic collection of examples.

At Home

Business and Professional Skills

Dance

Economics

Health

Human Resources

International Development

If you enjoy what you read here on Mission to Learn, please consider subscribing by RSS feed or e-mail. – JTC

Language, Spelling, and Grammar Skills

Law

Math and Science

Music and Art

Sports, Recreation, and Hobbies

Theological

Web and Computer Skills

If you liked the free learning opportunities in this post, you might also like:

More than 50 Web Widgets for Your Learning Mix

And please be sure to comment and share your favorite sources for free learning.

posted on February 14, 2008

Other Mission to Learn Offerings

Thanks so much for reading the Mission to Learn blog. If you aren't already aware of them, we also encourage you to check out:

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Wayne Mackintosh February 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Wayne here from WikiEducator at the Commonwealth of Learning — a non-profit intergovernmental agency.

Wow that’s an impressive resource! Just a quick note — if any readers are interested in free wiki skills training — WikiEducator is running a series free training workshops under the Learning4Content project.

Folk register online:

http://wikieducator.org/Learning4Content

Ian Grove-Stephensen February 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm

What a list!

But….you could have a whole wardrobe full of sweaters to pull here if you add all the K-12 resources. Yacapaca http://yacapaca.com alone contains 2125 free, collaboratively-user-authored courses (I just counted them) on every curriculum subject and then some.

Pdonaghy February 16, 2008 at 9:36 am

Hi Jeff
This is a great resource site. I can see that I will be coming back! You might be interested in adding your blog information to the new International Edubloggers Directory at http://edubloggerdir.blogspot.com
Patricia

jtcobb February 17, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Wayne–Thanks for dropping by. I’ll check out the WikiEducator offering and encourage others to do so as well.

Ian–Yes, I completely agree. This is a pale shadow, the smallest fraction of what is actually out there–which is most of the point of even undertaking this exercise. The old mantra is that information wants to be free. Learning seems to have the same inclination.

Thanks, Patricia–Heading off to the directory right now!

Jeff

Gus Austin February 19, 2008 at 1:41 am

Jeff,

What an amazing resource! – And yes, the trick is to figure out ways for users to easily discover and recommend all this content. I think aggregation and ‘digg’ style submission systems provide ways for users to recommend their favorites. Sites like the following, but with an education/learning focus, might provide a valuable way to find what’s relevant to the user:
http://www.newsvine.com/
http://www.nowpublic.com/

I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring these issues and concepts in the world of Drupal (http://drupal.org/). As both a web framework and rapidly growing community, there’s a lot of exploration in development, and the business models around open collaboration and learning.

Here’s a little resource page I constructed awhile ago:
http://wiki.pepperalleyproductions.com/Learning_and_resources

Enjoying the blog!

Gus

Michael Werner February 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Great site.

Anyone who’s interested in teaching will likely enjoy seeing all the free teacher-related goodies at http://www.Teachbits.com.

Catharina March 14, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Thanks for this great list! I would like to suggest two more resources for the open education initatives:

http://selfproject.eu/
http://www.open-of-course.org

jtcobb March 16, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Gus, Michael, Catharina–Thanks so much for dropping by and adding more great resources! –Jeff

Kare Anderson March 17, 2008 at 10:02 pm

We join the legion of others who recognized what a valuable list you have offered the rest of us so we wrote about it yesterday (and will mention it at the annual iabc conference in N.Y.)
http://www.movingfrommetowe.com/2008/03/16/making-conferences-more-meaningful-by-harnessing-technology/

gabriel cortez March 18, 2008 at 5:48 am

I browsed some of the sites from this list and found that there are valuable resource materials here for learning and teaching.

It is so hard not to be overloaded with information. It takes time to look for the one online education site that will provide the specific area where one is interested

Thank you for providing a good and reliable list.

T March 19, 2008 at 4:47 am

That’s certainly a well-organized list of resources with a great variety. I’d also like to add one to the Language category.
http://www.italki.com (T,I) – Practice any language with global language exchange
Thanks!

nelsy del maestro August 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

What are the rules to use this website ? are there any fees? can any one use it ?
Hope to hera from you.
Thank you;
nelsy

Asim Jan December 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Hi everybody;

Please find below an excellent link to online free course on “First-Aid”:

https://www.ambulance.net.au/onlinecourse/enrolled_courses_content.asp#

I found it very useful.

It basically provide basic information on life saving in the time of emergency. I recommend it by saying that this course is a MUST for the purpose of life saving.

By the way successful completion of this course leads to a beautiful printable certificate.

Best of luck and stay safe!

Jon Ellis December 7, 2009 at 5:22 am

You have included a good list of higher / open education initiatives. I would also add http://beanbaglearning.com – a free resource enabling independent tutors to share learning resources (via creative commons licence) and market their services.

Jon Ellis December 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

I should also add a new tutoring collaboration website to the list of open education initiatives http://tutorhub.org

Hansoo Lee January 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Hi Jeff! Magoosh is a new GMAT Prepoffering made by UC Berkeley students and GMAT veterans/experts. Our goal is to make high quality GMAT available to all by providing a high quality service at a low cost. On Magoosh you can answer 80 questions for free and get detailed explanations and analytics on your strengths and weaknesses. We hope this will help all who are studying for the GMAT!

Hansoo Lee
Co-founder, Magoosh.com

learn online free January 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

This is a very informative post. I got some valuable information on this site. Thanks for sharing. :)

James February 20, 2010 at 6:35 am

Excellent Opportunity to Study

Thoughts that arise from the blending of original self-knowledge and other forms of consequent experiential knowledge provide the motives to take action to realize them in external tangible form. This is why the best of human thinking begins and ends with how to manifest one’s uniqueness in the world. When you realize the beautiful vision of your heart, of your true Self, you will rise to manifest the greatness of your dominant thoughts in all of your actions……….

http://www.sangambayard-c-m.com

Juan March 16, 2010 at 1:17 am

Cool.

Here is another site you may want to consider. Its http://www.BridgeSA.net

Its unique in the sense that the free resources it links you to are more interactive types – audios, TV programs, radios, readers, music, etc.

executive mba online June 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

I agree with you that the competition among aggregators and the growing influence of the open education movement will drive higher quality over time.

Dane July 5, 2010 at 12:41 am

I would love to see Virtual Professors added to this list.

Webdesign July 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

This is a very informative post. I got some valuable information on this site. Thanks for sharing.

Student July 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I found many further and higher institutions offering free courseware. It is good of course, the bad thing is they do not grand you credit or certification, so you have nothing to put on CV. After long MONTHS! of research i found one further and higher education institution,that was granting certification upon successful assessment or exam from open courses. They do care about students are highly supportive staff and extremely active online community (im studying with them for my diploma now:P ) i found them by accident on one of free courses site, where they were posted as top partners and for small fee cant remember i think it was 20Euro that i paid for assessment they processed that final examination/assessment and after my successful completion awarded me certificate from their institution. I love them! their website is eden-institute.eu for some reason it is down :( , probably upgrading or something , but as i can access my online area :) id say its just upgrade or minor work, so check them out,i cant find that open courseware site that is associated with them,but i can guarantee that if you will write the institute they will assist you, cause their staff are great!

Mr.Choice August 4, 2010 at 2:36 am

I certainly believe your list is very effective. You have listed many informational sites or wikis which can help people to find important data fast. Perhaps, you should add http://www.choicehow.com to your list.

Misplaced Shadow September 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

These are good but you forgot some I’m sure you could make it to 250 if you kept going.

Jeff Cobb September 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

Yes – probably even 500+, given world enough and time! – Jeff

Jon Ellis January 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Another one for the list. Tutorhub is a homework help website, part of which includes a free student peer-to-peer free homework help section called the Common Room. The url is: https://tutorhub.com

Alem January 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

Thought I’d share this very helpful site. http://alison.com/?signup=1&ref=620678

peter jiang-learn mandarin February 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm

This website can serve learners a lot. People can go to more than 100 Free Places to Learn Online. That means, this site alone is enough to serve 100 types of learners.

And if anyone need to learn Mandarin Chinese, I can help to learn perfectly that language.

computer training February 8, 2011 at 3:55 am

I strongly agree with the idea of the author in saying that its really difficult for most of our parents to find time for leisure such as reading books and other activities. However, doing this for sometime once you will will help you enhance your capacity to handle or communicate with your kids. Reading books that will advise you on how to approach or manage your children nowadays is really great. There are lots of books which will give you tips so that you can easily guide and go with your kids characters. As today’s new generation is totally different from the past. Through the rapid development of technology, most of the children nowadays are well exposed to computers and latest gadgets. For you to go with their trend and still supervise what they are doing you must also spend time for or enroll yourself in the offered courses online.

computer training March 16, 2011 at 6:15 am

I’d like to see http://www.bestcomputertrainingcourses.com/ added to this list.

Jose May 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Hello,

The Internet is currently providing many useful resources for us to learn.
And some of them imply new methods, other than the traditional ones.
Focusing on learning languages I would like to tell you about a site which is not a source of knowledge in itself but a link or way to get it, to approach it.
No matter what language you are interested in, you will be able to find a native speaker of that language in this website.
Just search for a language partner who suits your preferences, regarding the way you would like to pratice with your partner.

I hope you like it, and it helps you a little bit to learn your favorite/s language/s.

This is the address: http://www.sharinglanguage.com,

best regards and good luck!

learn to draw July 16, 2011 at 4:37 am

Excellent Opportunity to Study

Thoughts that arise from the blending of original self-knowledge and other forms of consequent experiential knowledge provide the motives to take action to realize them in external tangible form. This is why the best of human thinking begins and ends with how to manifest one’s uniqueness in the world. When you realize the beautiful vision of your heart, of your true Self, you will rise to manifest the greatness of your dominant thoughts in all of your actions……….

Chó_Linh July 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm

1)Hippocampus.org
2)Brightstorm.com
3)Khanacademy.com
Hope it will help…

verbs-online.com August 4, 2011 at 5:28 am

I would like to add verbs-online.com, a verb conjugation tool for english, spanish, german, french, italian and portuguese verbs.

Vicente August 25, 2011 at 7:29 am

I know an other online spanish school

http://www.lengalia.com/en

Very good

leche materna August 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Well, this is new for me. Am glad to find something who sees what i see. Keep this just like its going. You are doing greate, and i´ll be reading always this blog.

Design interior Singapore October 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I am really glad that I am born in this generation where you can just look almost everything over the internet. Anyway, I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

Stuart Mealor March 5, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Hi – nice list Jeff – well done, must have taken some time.
Can I just add http://www.freemoodle.org to the thread here – which provides completely free Moodle hosting for any courses that are free for others.
It’s the only free Moodle hosting site that is backed by an official Moodle Partner.
I got frustrated with so many ‘so-called’ Moodle hosting sites (that were usually just a ‘loss leader’ to selling services) and others that were just not professional, or disappeared overnight.
Check-out FreeMoodle.org and read about why this is a very different approach, with unique aims.
Stu :-)

Robert van Bos March 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

Great post and i think a lot off time to make this to this result!

Kate June 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

University of Oxford has launched its Great Writers Inspire Project website (writersinspire.org), which has Creative Commons essays, pictures, ebooks, and audio and video lectures from some of the great minds in literature studies.

millionleaves June 13, 2012 at 1:17 am

I run a site called http://www.fiveminutelessons.com. It has a lot of free lessons on Excel, plus some on Microsoft Word and Google Analytics. I add content fairly regularly, and am open to suggestions from readers in terms of what to add next.

Tim June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Hi everyone,

You should check out http://www.goorulearning.org for amazing educational STEM resources from 5th-12th grade! It is free and always will be!

iamnik August 8, 2012 at 12:00 am

You should also consider adding Phodphad! ( http://www.phodphad.com/ ) to your list, which makes it super easy to learn online.

Poppy August 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

For Turkish language, this is a very good one:

http://turkish.pgeorgalas.gr/indexEn.htm

linkbuilding August 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Do you guys have other good options for learning online to translate? I want to take a course in a different language like Spanish or English.

Relatiegeschenken October 17, 2012 at 8:59 am

Great list, thanks for sharing!

Philipp Jones November 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Hi guys if you want to learn another language check out http://www.lingohut.com it is 100% free. I recommend it.

Sam March 20, 2013 at 6:32 am

Also for free language lessons online I would like to suggest free Albanian grammar: Learn Albanian

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