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The 4̶9̶ 50 best educational websites and apps to learn new stuff for free

John Fawkes
Jun 17, 2016 · 5 min read

This article was originally published in my private newsletter.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to learn something, you had to a) pay a bunch of money, and b) go to a school or classroom, a place specifically dedicated to learning. Those days are over.

Now, a profusion of apps, websites and institutions offer us a wider variety of (often superior) educational experiences than ever before- and we can access them from anywhere in the world, often for free. The apps and websites on this list can teach you practically anything- from coding and cooking, to surfing and negotiating.

In this day and age, there is simply no excuse to not know something you’d like to know. You can learn anything, for free, at your own pace, anywhere you can access the internet. We’re out of excuses not to educate ourselves- short of downloading knowledge directly into your head, this is as easy as it gets.

Take free online courses on a variety of subjects

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Khan Academy- High-quality free courses on a variety of subjects.

Alison- Free online courses from the world’s top publishers.

CourseBuffet- Free online courses created by universities.

Udemy- Huge selection of free and premium courses- mostly on technical skills.

Highbrow- Free 10-day courses, divided into 5-minute daily lessons and delivered by email.

Academic Earth- Free online academic education for everyone.

Learnist- Print and video content, crowdsourced and curated by experts.

Degreed- Unlimited learning. Free forever.

Get healthier, be more productive, and learn faster

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Memrise- Learn a variety of subjects via digital flashcards and crowdsourced mnemonics.

Greatist- Articles on becoming healthy and happy.

ZenHabits- Minimalist productivity advice, with a focus on psychology.

Anki- Free flashcard software.

Hello Healthy- Short, actionable health weight loss and fitness articles.

Fitocracy- Free workout, fitness tips and fitness tracking. A free habit-building app with a sleek design and simple, effective UI. You can also use it to hire coaches to help you build the habit of your choice- I use the platform to coach clients on weight loss and building healthier lifestyles.

Learn coding and other technical skills

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Codecademy- Learn Javascript, HTML, CSS, Python and more.

Free Code Camp- Learn to code, meet other coders, build projects that help non-profits. Introductory coding lessons, designed for k-12 students.

Data Camp- Free and freemium courses on R, Python and data visualisation.

CodeCombat- Introductory coding lessons, in the form of a fantasy RPG.

Lrn- Phone app with free interactive coding mini-quizzes.

Learn a new language

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Duolingo — Learn over 20 different languages, including Klingon for some reason.

Babbel- Free language learning with integrated speech recognition.

Drops- Study a language on your phone for just 5 minutes a day.

Busuu- Community-base language learning. Interact with native speakers.

CoffeeStrap- Practice a new language by voice chatting with native speakers with whom you share common interests.

Lingvist- Learn a language in 200 hours.

Sharpen your social and career skills

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Improve Your Social Skills- Free social skills guide from a guy who overcame Asperger’s.

Succeed Socially- Free social skills guide for awkward people. Free articles on job hunting, getting promoted, freelancing, personal branding, and other career skills.

Mind Tools- Free tools and videos for improving career, management and communications skills.

Make something

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Makezine- Online magazine for makers with guides, projects and news.

Snapguide- Free user-created guides for makers.

ChefSteps- Mix of free and premium cooking classes.

Instructables- User-created guides for making everything from cookies to buildings.

Allrecipes- The web’s largest collection of recipes.

Become a human encyclopedia

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InstaNerd- Read a never-ending series of random factoids.

TED-Ed- Curated, high-quality educational videos.

Brain Pump- Watch a random educational video.

Now I Know- Fun facts delivered in a daily email newsletter.

Curiosity- 5 fun new facts, delivered to your phone every day.

Zidbits- Huge collection of articles on fun and unusual (mostly scientific) topics.

Big Think- In-depth videos by experts.

Curious- Sharpen your brain with daily “workouts”

Do something fun

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Yousician- Learn your favorite guitar, bass, piano and ukelele songs.

Parkour & Freerunning World- Free Parkour and Freerunning video tutorials. Be careful!

Chesscademy- Learn chess from the masters, and solve chess puzzles.

Pianu- Learn to play piano online.

Surfedukators- Free surfing videos, tips and tutorials

Flowkey- Free piano training app.

2019 Update: Finally, I want to give a special shout-out to the Medium network itself.

When I originally wrote this article, Medium was dominated by “inspirational” articles that were short on truly usable information. 90% of the articles on here fell into a few narrow categories, particularly tech and startup stuff. Since then, Medium has improved both the quality and variety of its content. With that in mind, here are a few writers worth following.

Me, John Fawkes. I mostly write health and fitness stuff, but I’ve also delves into life advice, nootropics, travel, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Raghav Haran. The best career advice writer on Medium IMO.

Margo Aaron. Doesn’t publish here all that often, but when she does her marketing advice is pure genius.

Olga Khazan. One of my favorite writers at The Atlantic. She writes on a variety if topics, but focuses particularly on health and science.

Ryan Holiday. People who write general life advice usually come off as too woo-woo and short on specific, actionable advice. Ryan is different.

If you found this article helpful, please click the👏 button to the left or share the article on Facebook or Twitter so your friends can benefit from it too.

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John Fawkes

Written by

Los Angeles-based personal trainer, online fitness & nutrition coach, and health & fitness writer.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

John Fawkes

Written by

Los Angeles-based personal trainer, online fitness & nutrition coach, and health & fitness writer.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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