By Erikka Sawdey, Reference Librarian at Sycamore Plaza Library
There’s something special in the sense of accomplishment you get from learning something new, and there’s no reason that has to end after formal schooling is complete! Maybe you need training for a new job skill, need credit to renew licenses or certifications, or simply want to occupy your time and keep your brain busy. Here are some free lifelong learning resources to keep you learning day after day!
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with GCF Learn Free (edu.gcfglobal.org/en), a fantastic resource to learn a variety of skills. From technology to math basics, and from language learning to gaining skills for job success, it’s a jack of all trades.
Maybe you’re interested in online college courses (also called OER, Open Educational Resources):
There are many free college classes available online, including some that can be transitioned into official college credit at accredited schools for a fraction of the cost of regular college classes. Here are just a few of them:
Here are some examples of fun classes they offer for free, but this is barely scratching the surface: child nutrition, Fashion as Design, Introduction to Calculus, English for Journalism, etc etc etc. If you want to learn it, it’s probably here!
Very similar to Coursera, EdX offers a few classes in a huge variety of topics. I have personally taken three Spanish classes, a Sociology course, a library advocacy class, and Introduction to Algebra. They are self-paced and very thorough.
Open Education Database: oedb.org/open
Some people are left-brained and prefer the scientific and mathematical side of things, while some people are right-brained and enjoy the more artistic and creative parts of life. And some of us are both! Fortunately, with OER’s like this one, you can take a math class one day and an Art History class the next.
But maybe you want to be able to say you have officially taken a class at MIT, Yale, Harvard, or Carnegie Mellon. After all, who doesn’t want to say they’ve dipped their toes into an Ivy League education? They have OERs too! The tech classes through MIT are not for the faint of heart, but if you truly want to sharpen a skill for your job or your hobbies, you can’t go wrong with the best of the best.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Yale University: https://oyc.yale.edu/
Harvard University: https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative
Carnegie Mellon: http://oli.cmu.edu/
Or maybe you want to learn a language and aren’t sure where to start. While some of the OERs above also feature language learning, they aren’t always on-the-go. But don’t worry! There’s an app for that!:
Transparent Languages: Find this on pickeringtonlibrary.org under “Research.”
Has your workplace recently transitioned to new software and you have to learn it ASAP? Look no further than Lynda.com, which is also available on pickeringtonlibrary.org under “Research.” When I had to learn the ins and outs of Excel in a relatively brief time span, Lynda was a lifesaver. And when Zoom entered our lives suddenly and without warning? Lynda was there for us.
Finally, has the age of technology finally caught up to you and you’ve decided to give coding a go? Here are some excellent coding teaching resources, in order of difficulty. Coding is so much easier when you’ve got a good base understanding of how computer logic operates!
Code Academy: www.codeacademy.com
These are just a small selection of the Open Educational Resources available for lifelong learning. You have the tools now — go out and learn!! 🙂