We are living in a golden age of education. The internet provides virtually unlimited resources to satiate your curiosity no matter what subjects you’re interested in. Those who previously lacked the opportunity to learn now need only an internet connection to receive high-quality lessons from the foremost leaders in any field. From design to coding to languages to medical procedures, the internet contains more information than any physical library could ever store.
Of course, it’s not always easy to find the most reliable and legitimate educational resources. Typing a search query into Google can sometimes take you down a rabbit hole of unverified information and conflicting opinions. Some websites and tech companies, in the interest of promoting continual education, have aggregated cutting-edge classes onto user-friendly platforms. Other companies take advantage of mobile technology to offer unique, on-the-go learning. Here are our picks for the best online and tech-based learning tools so you can receive the equivalent of an Ivy league education for free — or nearly free — wherever you happen be.
Edx was created by two of the best-known educational institutions in the world: MIT and Harvard. It’s an open source platform that hosts university-level courses covering a wide array of subjects, many of which are free of charge. Try the Intro to Computer Science by Harvard University if you’re interested in the theory behind computing and the exciting applications that can be created. You’ll receive the same information in these classes that you would if you were sitting in a lecture hall on campus.
Reddit has an immense variety of forum topics, not all of which could be considered strictly educational. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, no matter how niche, Reddit is a great source for insider information. You can browse through thousands of conversations about math, sciences, business, languages, the arts or the fundamentals of learning itself. If you’re a fan of life hacks, you must check out Reddit. Reddit users are happy to share valuable advice to fellow nerds in their space.
Skillshare is a subscription-based learning website that provides a wide range of courses taught by industry experts. Those interested in design and freelancing will find plenty of courses to help them learn how to develop a design strategy and how to think like a designer. There are also courses on productivity, time management and tricks for how to hone your focus while working. No matter where your interests lie, there are full length courses on Skillshare to cater to help you gain a deeper understanding.
Learning apps are terrific for those on the go who don’t have time to sit in front of a desktop to receive a full lecture. The bonus of apps is that the learning never has to stop, since your phone is always with you. You can reinforce lessons over and over again throughout the day. This is ideal for skills like language learning, where repetition and immersion are key.
Technology is an amazing learning aide, but it’s not yet capable of replacing real-life experience. If you want to learn about something in person, check to see if there’s a Meetup group on that topic in your area. There are Meetup groups centered around languages, sports, coding, dance, culinary arts and other topics that are pure nerdy fun. As a bonus, you’ll also develop a peer group who share a specific interest with you. Group participation makes it easier to learn and motivates you to keep up your progress so you can show off your improvement in future Meetups.
Have you ever wanted to study at MIT? Well now you can, and even better, you can do it totally free of charge. MIT OpenCourseWare is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wherein the school has published all of its undergraduate and graduate material for public consumption. MIT has long been a proponent of the power of digital learning; this initiative was founded in 2001, while the internet was still gaining traction in the public psyche. If you’re looking for next-level tutelage in subjects such as linear algebra, quantum physics and artificial intelligence, then you’ll love MIT OpenCourseWare.
GitHub is the internet’s largest resource for source code repositories. Whatever the digital project, developers can upload their code to this platform to be shared and used for collaboration. There are over 28 million users and 57 million repositories. If you’re ready to get your hands dirty with coding, then the wild world of GitHub is for you. You’ll find collaborators who can impart invaluable knowledge, helping you hone your skills and learn through doing.
The Khan Academy is one of the original digital learning platforms with an aim to further global education. It’s a nonprofit organization that offers content in a wide variety of languages, you can learn in the tongue with which you’re most comfortable. The academy also provides educators with teaching tools to guide and supplement their real-life lesson plans. In addition, the platform has introduced Khan for Kids, dedicated to children between ages 2 and 6. As children are now growing up totally immersed in technology, promoting their digital literacy is important.
After absorbing all the new information you can glean from these platforms, your head might be spinning. Using technology to learn about topics that get your brain juices flowing is exhilarating, but it’s also essential to know how to unplug and get in touch with your inner self. Meditating is a great way to unwind and re-center in the moment, and meditation apps can help you do that. These apps can either play calm audio featuring guided meditations or simply give cues to let you know when your session is done. Using a meditation app is a great way to enhance your focus and get the most out of your quiet moments. We recommend a meditation practice if you’re as addicted to learning as we are. Sometimes the gumption to learn can keep us in overdrive, so it’s important to engage in some sort of practice that resets your stress levels every now and again.
Technology is all around us, so we might as well put it to good use. The internet has a wealth of information for us to access and soak up if we know where to go for it. The above list of educational resources is not at all exhaustive; there are plenty more fantastic digital learning methods that we haven’t touched on. The most important thing to do is to choose a method and take the first step. A lifelong learning habit will keep your brain sharp and alert into old age and help you approach each day with fresh eyes. There’s so much to be learned through technology. Where will you begin?
Alice Donoghue is a writer fascinated by the global impact of technology. She works for TheAppLabb as their marketing manager, spending each day pouring over the latest news in the tech sphere. Get in touch at [email protected]