My favorite places to learn on-line for free
The modern world is constantly changing: technology, media, politics — everything is moving at a pace that is difficult to keep for an average human. What at first was a completely new phenomenon and pioneering, a year later becomes the norm, and after two years it is obsolete.
A perfect example of this is Facebook, without which it is difficult to imagine today’s life, even if you are not a big fan. In Poland portal appeared only in 2008, and began to gain real popularity about two or three years later. I remember that when I created an account on the site soon after it was launched in Poland I had there only one friend — a colleague who lived in Germany. Today it is hard to imagine everyday life, media and pop culture without Facebook and other social media websites.
The same is with our skills, which are useful in the labor market and in everyday life. What we learned at school or college is not enough. You need to expand your knowledge every day, learn, train, read, talk with mentors and derive from them. Fortunately the present day gives us almost unlimited opportunities for learning and development, and more importantly — to a great extent all this is available for free.
I remember when as a teenager in high school I was fascinated by a very popular then programming language — the Pascal. Almost immediately after one of the computing lessons I ran to the bookstore and bought 2 very interesting books about programming for beginners. One of these books contained even practical exercises!
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was enough only to wade to one-third of the first book. It is very difficult and not much interesting to learn programming using only paper, with no possibility to check what you are doing on your computer.
Of course, in those old days it was perfectly possible to make it “live”, but it was very difficult for a teenager to know how to get started. School didn’t teach that. Teachers didn’t know much either. And the internet was then paid per hour and was not available in every home.
Today we have almost unlimited opportunities for learning on-line, interactive courses with video tutorials, or even mentors ready to help us directly are just at your fingertips.
Today, I would not have any problem learning Pascal, I could read, watch, try, make mistakes and correct them “live”. The only problem is that this popular 10 years ago programming language is currently not used at all and is useful only to maintain very old and rather uncomfortable to use computer programs.
There is no stagnation in the modern world. If you do not go forward — you are moving back. Everyone else is already ahead of you. Therefore, I believe that instead of watching the fifteenth video with funny cats on youtube (I think three a day should be enough) on youtube you should find yourself some interesting online course. Most of these courses are divided into very short lessons, so you usually need just 5–10 minutes a day in order to make progress rapidly.
Even when it is hard sometimes…
The most important thing is to get started! The possibilities are endless, and you can expand the knowledge in virtually every field. Below is a list of my favorite places to learn for free online. In fact, however, as I said already — the list is endless, and I hope that this will lead you to your own research. Here we go!
Udacity.com — my absolute favorite. Engaging, well-led courses directly from Silicon Valley will allow you to believe that programming is easy. What I value the most in Udacity, is the fact that at the very beginning stage we begin to create the our own projects, which highly encourages further work. The portal offers many courses related to programming and computer science in general, but you can also find there other interesting courses, such as introduction to genetics, psychology and statistics.
TED talks — I can’t stress this enough, how amazing TED is. Few-minute speeches on any subject and in any language are conducted in such a way, to engage and inspire the listener. This is amazing source of knowledge, and you can also have a pleasure to “meet” valuable and inspiring people. I highly recommend TED speaches — just type in google search “TED + interesting topic for you”. Happy listening!
Google Arts & Culture — you don’t want to listed all the negative information coming from the news any more? Instead, take your morning cofee and browse this extraordinary portal from Google. Daily dose of new, interesting story in the field of very broadly taken culture. The materials available on the site come from over 1,200 of the most interesting museums in the world. Beautiful pictures, engaging documentaries, virtual tours of the most interesting places in the world. I visited today the Museum of the History of Cosmonautics in Russia, and you?
MIT OpenCourseWare — Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the best universities in the world, standing in line with Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, sometimes even occupying the first place in the ranking. So, do you want to be a student of this university? Well for most of us it is probably too late to actually attend classes in Boston, but there is nothing standing on our way to use the huge on-line database of materials and courses developed by MIT. Just imagine the field of knowledge, and you’ll find it on the portal “MIT OpenCourseWare”. Search, click, browse. And when someone asks you where you study answer — at MIT!
edX.org — one of the world’s largest online educational platforms. Backed by the best universities in the world with those mentioned in the previous point as well. On edX there is more than 10 million students and the number is growing rapidly. The vast majority of courses are free, and you pay only for the training certificate. edX is a very professional portal, with experienced teachers and interesting materials. At the same time science here is put simply and you can learn with a lot of fun. You just need to try this!
codeacademy.com — a great place to start learning regardless the level. Home of the free courses programming in most of today’s popular technologies developed by true enthusiasts. From the beginning, you are doing exercises and create your own projects. If you do not know where to start, the paid version will allow you to prepare for you the exact path depending on what you want to achieve.
khanacademy.org — if you want to learn online, but you do not know English (or you want to simply learn in other language), then this is the page for you! Khan Academy is one of the oldest and most popular platforms of this type, but constantly growing. More and more fields of science — such as programming, biology, mathematics, history and much more — are added. Available courses are designed in such a way so you mostly learn by playing. The is alo the entire database of courses designed specifically for children. Just amazing!
So it’s time to get down to work! Close this article and start learning. Oh, and before you close it, please let me know if you like this post! You can write a comment or give me your green heart. This is my first article on the medium, and I will be really grateful for all the support and your thoughts. Also, please forgive me for errors in English — I am also still learning!