From design to coding to zoology, here are ten sites offering free online courses
We’re all slowly adjusting to life in the “new normal”—a time of social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, canceled classes, and working from home.
It can be easy to resign ourselves to binging on Netflix and carbs, which is perfectly excusable (in moderation). To keep both our minds and our bodies healthy, it’s important that we continue learning and finding new ways to challenge ourselves.
To that end, we’ve compiled a list of online learning resources that are available 24/7 and cover a range of subjects. They’re also completely free!
Online Resources with Free Healthcare Courses
1. Open Learn by Open University
What Is Open Learn?
Open Learn is an online resource offered through Open University that “delivers bite-sized learning experiences designed to fit easily into daily life…”
According to their website, Open Learn is open to the public with no requirements to access their materials.
They provide courses that can be followed at your own pace without having to carve out large amounts of time from your day or, perhaps more importantly, money out of your wallet.
Whether you want to spend 15 minutes or 15 hours on a subject is completely up to you.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Open Learn?
Open University is well-organized with an easy to use website that offers:
- 900+ short courses (ranging from 1 – 100 hours of study)
- Thousands of articles, quizzes, and interactive games
- Hundreds of videos and audios, ranging from Greek history to modern-day politics, and everything in between
Among Open University’s courses are several dozen healthcare-related subjects ranging from nutrition to health administration to public health theory.
How Much Does Open Learn Cost?
Zip, zilch, nada. Open Learn is a free service.
- Is It Always Free? Yes, the service is free
- Are Premium Options Available? Open Learn only lists free courses, but the parent site (Open University) does offer paid options with college credit.
Open Learn Reviews & Testomonials:
“OpenLearn is great for brushing up. My first course doesn’t start until February, so I’ve been using OpenLearn to brush up on maths and stuff like that so when the real course starts I’ve got some knowledge to go in with.” – tomyngns
“It’s an incredibly enriching experience. The flexibility and support for those of us in full-time work is phenomenal. The modules I’ve done so far have all had lively online communities behind them and amazing personal support from my tutors. It’s not going to be the same experience as a brick university, but that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much. I had such a good experience that I’m returning to do a second degree once I finish my ACA. For fun. :)” – Axel
How Do I Begin Using Open Learn?
Visit www.open.edu/openlearn/ to begin using the site. Registration is free and required to track your progress.
2. Class Central
What Is Class Central?
Class Central doesn’t host free courses, but it’s a great search tool to help you find them. According to their website, “Class Central is a search engine and reviews site for free online courses popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.”
How Can Class Central Help?
Instead of spending hours Googling for the best online course, Class Central does the footwork for you, compiling courses from international universities such as University of Tasmania, University of Cape Town, and University of Liverpool.
These programs include numerous healthcare courses for future nurses, EMTs, and others hoping to begin a career in professional medicine. Course options also include reviews from other students, so you have a better idea if each class is right for you.
How Much Does Class Central Cost?
Class Central costs exactly the same amount as using Google (in other words, it’s free).
- Is Class Central Always Free? Yes, the content on Class Central is permanently free.
- Are Premium Options Available? No pay options are available on Class Central, but the universities hosting each course’s contents typically offer both free and premium options.
Class Central Reviews & Testimonials:
“It has been an enjoyable, informal way of learning about the subject within my own time. Having the course presented on line with the many videos and articles, has been invaluable. Being a very busy person, having this course so easily accessible, I was able to dedicate time to it when I was able to…. ie: in the early hours of the morning!!!” – Anna P
“I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the course. I enjoyed all the modules and meeting international specialists and researchers.” – Anonymous Review
“Thank you to everyone involved in putting together these courses.” – Jane O
How Do I Use Class Central?
Just visit www.classcentral.com to begin your search.
What Is edX?
EdX is a collection of online courses from over 140 top institutions, including MIT, Berkeley, and Boston University. As a global nonprofit, edX is “transforming traditional education, removing the barriers of cost, location and access. Fulfilling the demand for people to learn on their own terms.”
How Can edX Help?
For healthcare students, edX offers free courses in a variety of healthcare-related subjects, from administrative to life sciences. They even offer a dedicated subset of courses for nursing students, which includes classes like “Essential competencies for nurse preceptors”, “Global public health”, “Fundamental of Neuroscience”, and “Medical Terminology”.
How Much Does edX Cost?
Courses offered through edX are free with the option of paying for a verified certification of completion ($49 for most courses).
- Is edX Always Free? The free courses on edX are always free.
- Is Premium Content Available? Yes, if you’d like to receive college credit for a course, you can do so for a fee. For most courses, you don’t have to pay upfront—you can decide whether to pay for the credit after you pass the course.
edX Reviews & Testimonials:
“I love edX.org. I am very impressed with how they have set up their website. It shows so much information about the classes. They have everything that you need to know like the course description, syllabus, information about the professors, how much they cost, the duration of the class, etc. I also love the fact that the sound is great on the videos and they have the transcripts of every video for each class. This makes it so much easier to take great notes because you don’t have to stop the video and then replay it.” – Debbie Sue
“This was a great experience! So glad you can go at your own pace. There is so much information given and the instructors were great!” – edX user
“edx is a professional, modern, motivating and inspiring platform for education in so many different areas, which can be either of personal interest or essential for future career development. Being able to work on a PC but also via the app makes it easy and convenient. I very much enjoyed learning with edx. Their customer support deserves 5 stars.” – Mahir
How Do I Use edX?
Start by visiting www.edx.org and registering for a free account. From there, simply sign up for the courses you’d like to take.
4. Harvard Online Learning
What Is Harvard Online Learning?
As the name suggests, Harvard Online Learning (also known as HarvardX) is a service offered by the prestigious Harvard University. The site includes a mixture of free and paid courses from the Harvard curriculum.
How Can Harvard Online Learning Help?
There’s a waiting list to get into Harvard for a reason… the instruction is among the best in the country, and their online portal allows anyone to tap into that.
The majority of courses tend to fall into business, computer science, and finance, but there are still a few healthcare courses worth checking out.
Currently, Harvard Online Learning offers 11 healthcare courses such as “FDA & Prescription Drugs”, “Immunology”, and “Health Information Systems”. Not all the courses are free, however, so double check the price before registering.
How Much Does Harvard Online Learning Cost?
The cost depends entirely on the courses you choose. Some courses are free, while others average around $30 per course.
- Is Harvard Online Learning Always Free? Courses may be added or may expire, but free courses should always be available.
- Is Premium Content Available? Harvard offers a broad variety of online courses for a fee.
Harvard Online Learning Reviews & Testimonials:
“The best teachers I have ever had in my life. It’s a privilege to get access to the lectures at Harvard.” – Shayani
“Took a class two years ago just so I would have something to do at night while my husband was working. Man! I learned so much. I will take another in the winter.” – Louise
How Do I Use Harvard Online Learning?
Register for your courses at http://online-learning.harvard.edu . You’ll receive an email with instructions for the course as well as the expected timeline. Just be sure to note which courses are free and which require payment.
5. Open Culture
What Is Open Culture?
Open Culture is an online directory of over 1,500 free courses from institutions like Emory University and University of Sydney. Many of the links connect to services such as Coursera or edX, though some link directly to the universities themselves. The content on Open Culture ranges from full courses to online videos (single use lectures), so the options are plentiful.
“Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high-quality content whenever and wherever you want it.”
How Can Open Culture Help?
If you’re looking for something to study but aren’t 100% sure what that something is, Open Culture’s variety of options may be worth checking out. The directory offers numerous topics, allowing users to find the ones that interest them the most.
For healthcare students, Open Culture offers links to two dozen free healthcare courses.
However, because Open Culture is only a directory, it doesn’t host the actual courses. Therefore, you may have to register on different sites if you decide to sign up for multiple courses.
How Much Does Open Culture Cost?
Open Culture itself costs nothing. It’s a free service like any search engine. However, some links on the site may lead to courses that require payment, so be mindful as you explore.
- Is Open Culture Always Free? Yes! The service never charges a fee.
- Is Premium Content Available? Open Culture is not a pay site, but some of the universities that host the free content may also offer premium and accredited courses for a fee.
Open Culture Reviews & Testimonials:
“Today’s learners have become so tech-savvy that to catch up with them and maintain their interest, teachers have to be a couple of steps ahead. It is mind-boggling how in the age of Facebook and Twitter, there are still many great websites out there just waiting to be discovered. To me, Open Culture was such a discovery.” – Anna Taylor
“The content is full without being overwhelming, with a particularly strong showing in free online courses and textbooks. The catalog is fairly diverse, and includes resources from a few nooks and crannies in the internet it would be tough to track down on your own, so in that regard OpenCulture can be a real time-saver.” – Fred Rossoff
How Do I Use Open Culture?
Visit www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses to begin your search.
What Is Coursera?
Coursera is a beautifully curated collection of online courses from top colleges like Stanford, Princeton, and more. One benefit to Coursera is their emphasis on mobile learning—simply download the app to study on the go.
“Today, Coursera has expanded to reach 53 million people and 2,300 businesses around the world. On Coursera you can find online courses, Specializations, certificates and degrees from 200 world-class universities and companies, including: Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Google, IBM, and more.”
How Can Coursera Help?
Coursera offers a wide range of courses, not the least of which are dozens of online classes that focus on healthcare. These range in subject matter from nutrition to psychology and are prepared by some of the top educational minds in the country.
Each course description page not only lays out the details and expectations of the course, but the page also provides “Learner Career Outcomes”, a statistical breakdown of how taking the course helped further the careers of students.
How Much Does Coursera Cost?
Coursera offers 4,000 free courses, so there’s plenty to learn with the $0 price tag.
- Is Coursera Always Free? Yes! “Free” is a pillar of the Coursera model, so there will always be free classes offered on the site.
- Is Premium Content Available? Also yes. The site also offers enhanced learning opportunities such as Specializations and Professional Certificates which start at $39 per course.
Coursera Reviews & Testimonials:
“This is a powerful site to learn more about or learn about topics of interest. The great thing is that there are so many topics to grow more understanding or learn about for the first time. The courses are provided by top notch institutions and teachers. The institutions include Ivy League and other high-level colleges and universities. Be prepared to do some work and learn a lot.” – David L
“Despite some limitations, Coursera offers the most diverse and expansive catalog of online courses available to self-starters seeking an inexpensive—or free—adult education.” – PC Magazine
How Do I Use Coursera?
Visit www.coursera.org to register for your free account. Once registered, simply select the course you’d like to study and follow the instructions.
Free Courses for the Brain and the Body
For many of us, the pursuit of knowledge usually extends beyond our professional career goals.
There are several free courses and tools on the web that can enrich our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Furthermore, our list of free online learning resources wouldn’t be complete without some physical fitness applications.
Here are some great tools for keeping our minds and our bodies healthy during quarantine.
Free art and design courses.
Free computer coding courses.
Free zoology classes.
10. Khan Academy:
Brush up on high school courses for free.
Learn a new language for free.
Short, engaging lectures on living your best life.
Brain games and mental exercises.
The official fitness app of Gold’s Gym.
15. Core Power Yoga:
Currently offering yoga classes for free.
Whatever You Do, Just Keep Learning
Whether you’re taking an online course or picking up a book, the important thing is to just keep learning. Periods of quarantine and social distancing make it easy to fall into bad habits, but by challenging our minds and our bodies daily, we can turn the challenges of today into opportunities to become stronger, smarter, and happier for the many years to come.