The internet is such a beautiful tool, and perhaps the best thing about it is that you can learn any skill or about anything. Also, like a university, you can learn in a structured way but without any time, age or location limitations. This post is a list of the best free online courses websites.
9 best free online courses websites
With about 130,000 courses – at the time of writing this post – and 10 years of existence, Udemy is a truly reliable and global online learning platform.
Whether you’re taking a free or paid course, the quality of the courses is guaranteed because they are mostly taught by leading experts. However, Udemy also allows anyone to create online video courses and become instructors.
Another good thing about this platform is that businesses can pay for plans that allow their employees unlimited access to thousands of courses.
Coursera is another undisputed world-class online learning platform, but while anyone can create courses on Udemy, its own courses are developed and instructed by lecturers and industry experts.
Coursera does more than offer certificates, it offers programs from accredited institutions and corresponding degrees.
To simply distinguish Coursera, it’s a site where you can learn core academic subjects such as Computer Science and Optical Engineering. While Udemy is better for quickly learning or brushing up skills such as photography or SEO, for instance. Personally, I have been learning to play the trumpet and Flute on Udemy.
The free Coursera version allows access to online studies and video lectures but not certificates.
No list of best free online courses websites is complete without Khan Academy, a non-profit organization with a mandate to “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan Academy, completely free for both learners and teachers, relies partly on donations through their website.
The platform – with focus on more traditional and foundational subjects like Math, Economics, and Computing – is designed for students and, thereby, makes it possible to create Parents’ Accounts in addition to the Teachers and Students ones.
Just like Khan Academy, Alison offers completely free online courses in categories such as IT, Humanities, Lifestyle and Business. However, upon approved course completion, you have the option of purchasing official Allison Certification to boost your CV, social media profiles, and job applications.
Having said that, there are still some courses that offer a free Digital Certificate upon completion. Below are a few of them:
- Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Office, Microsoft PowerPoint (all 2010)
- Managing Health and Safety in Healthcare
- Safety and Health in Construction
“Free” and “quality” don’t always go together, but not when the offerings are from Harvard University and MIT; edX offers courses ranging from Data Science to Project Management and Six Sigma.
Like Khan Academy, it’s a nonprofit; however, you may still need to pay to obtain certificates upon completion of courses.
edX offers over 3000 courses.
Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda)
Linkedin Learning, formerly known as Lynda, is not exactly free. It uses a monthly subscription model. However, it offers an initial one month free trial.
Compared to Udemy’s purchasing model, for example, you don’t gain permanent access to a course that you have bought, you buy a subscription plan that gives you access to all the platforms courses within the month your subscription covers.
This subscription model could be very handy if you’re looking to learn a number of skills or courses within a short period. It would be wise to take advantage of the free initial subscription for that purpose, too.
One advantage of Linkedin Learning is that it curates courses for you based on the skills and experience you have put on your Linkedin profile. Like udemy, interested instructors only have to apply on the platform and await approval.
If you are familiar with TED Talks, you will have a idea of the standard the TED-Ed learning platform offers.
The award-winning education platform is completely free; you only have to register. However, unlike all the above mentioned online education websites, the educational materials, including live recordings and animation videos, are fluid. They are designed to address and answer some of our must curious thoughts and the mysteries of our world.
For example, you could find videos on topics such as “How fast is the speed of thought” or “How false news spreads”.
Jackie Besoz and Melinda Gates are two of their advisors.
Skillshare is another popular and reputable online learning website. It is very similar to Udemy because their offerings and not purely academic-centric, they offer courses on a wide range of skills, including photography, entrepreneurship, culinary and animation.
Overall, though, Udemy has a much wider range of courses. Skillshare’s tend to focus more on creative skills such as animation, digital illustration, graphic artistry, and web development.
Like Udemy, it has some free courses; however, its premium offering is similar to Linkedin Learning’s – you subscribe on a monthly or yearly basis. Although, you can start for free with 7 days of unlimited access.
Founded in 2013, FutureLearn offers Short Courses, Microcredentials & Programs, and Online Degrees. Essentially, you can learn new skills, earn professional and academic credentials, and study online towards earning a degree.
Its courses are taught by A-list organizations and universities – such as British Council; Kings College, London; Institute of Coding; Accenture; and University of Michigan – and industry experts.
What makes FutureLearn unique is its modelling of a traditional academic system where courses have a set starting and ending date. This means that learners cannot just progress at their own pace; access to the course is restricted two weeks after the course completion date, except by subscription.
It operates a pay-per-course model, but there is a limited (time) access to free courses.