My Top 5 Free Learning Resources (or Low Cost)

I don’t know about you, but as a Renaissance Soul (RS), I love learning new things. In fact it is my top strength according to the CliftonStrengths assessment. I would venture to guess that if you are an RS too, the learner strength is in your top ten.

If I could afford to be a permanent student in a University environment, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love the textbooks, the energy on campus, the libraries, and the camaraderie of other people who love to learn.

My ultimate dream job is to be a University professor. I see myself applying to another Masters or Ph.D. program in the near future, but in the meantime, I always look for inexpensive and effective ways to learn new things that pique my interest.

Today I am sharing a few online platforms where you can learn to your heart’s content for free or at a minimal cost compared to traditional brick and mortar schools. You might be surprised what you find in this treasure trove of resources. Let me know in the comments what you plan on checking out for your next learning adventure.


Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded edX in 2012. It boasts over 1,900 courses in popular subjects like computer science, business management, biology and life sciences, and humanities, just to name a few.

  • Available 24/7, anyone with Internet access can use the platform.
  • There is no application necessary.
  • Many of the courses are free to take with some offering a “verified certificate” of completion for a small fee (those I found were around $50).
  • Some courses provide college-level learning for a modest price, like this How to Write a Novel course for $295.
  • Universities from around the world have joined and offer a variety of learning opportunities.
  • Also, there are courses and certifications from organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and the Smithsonian.

This online learning platform was started in 2012, by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Their mission: “We envision a world where anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience.”

  • Their website states there are more than 2,000 courses, 180+ specializations, and six universities offering degree programs.
  • Courses range in price from $29-99 each. In some cases, you may take a course without certification for free. In other instances, if you pay, you can earn official certification in that particular academic area. Most stand-alone courses are four to six weeks.

This platform has gained traction over the past couple of years. There are over 65,000 courses taught by expert instructors. Because anyone can be an instructor, it is essential to do your due diligence to find a relevant class and of top-caliber. My advice, pay attention the ratings from previous students..

  • There are free and paid courses. Even some of the paid ones are ridiculously inexpensive. Right now they are having a $9.99 and up sale for many of their most popular courses, like this one, Develop Blockbuster Story Ideas That Sell (Writing Mastery).
  • Learn everything from art to WordPress and everything in between. I have taken many classes on this platform, including certifications.
  • If you have an expertise you would like to share with others, and get paid to do so, Udemy invites you to become an instructor.
  • This one focuses on technology (computer science) for the most part – skills needed to find a technical job or increase your skillset in a current position.
  • From what I can tell there are no free courses; however, the fees for what they call “Nanodegrees” (their version of course certification) are significantly less than going through a traditional degree program.
  • Classes are organized into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
  • You can learn web development, robotics, data analysis, programming, Google Adwords, virtual reality, design, and marketing, to name a few. 
  • You can also sign up for the free “Job Program” to share your resume with the Udacity team and potential employers. According to their website, companies like Google, Intuit, AT&T, and Adobe hire graduates from the Udacity courseware.

SPECIAL NOTE: As of May 5, 2020, Udacity is offering 30 days free in response to COVID-19. “Learn higher-paying, employable skills while you’re stuck at home.”

Did you know there was an “education” channel on YouTube? I certainly didn’t until recently. You can learn just about everything from watching a YouTube video.

  • Organizations such as NASA, TEX, and the BBC  have created an education presence on this platform.
  • You will find a variety of standalone courses from across YouTube presenters like this one from Gresham College (in the UK), called, Education, Research, and Government in the Ancient Greek World. That one is definitely getting saved to watch later.

I hope this compendium of learning resources will get you started (or keep you going) on your journey for more education, more insight, and more exciting things to know.

Did you now all of these resources are available? And this is only the tip of the iceberg. In the comments, let me know what you think and if you have another resource to add to the list. 

Corrie Ann

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