42 Extremely Useful Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free


Educate Yourself Online

As a dedicated lifelong learner, Leonardo da Vinci once said that “learning never exhausts the mind.”  That quote makes me wonder what he would have said about the vast amount of learning resources available online.

Seriously, there are so many free websites dedicated to self-learning that you could spend your entire life wading through the information and never completely get through it all.

This is top-quality information too, available free of charge to the public that allows you to learn about anything from a variety of topics such as economics, genetics, how to play the guitar, foreign languages, drawing lessons and computer coding.  Some top Ivy-league schools even put their entire content freely online.

As a lifelong learner myself, I wanted to compile the ultimate list of free educational sites and this was the result.

Physical Universities
MIT Open Courseware – According to website “the idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
Open Yale Courses – Selected Yale lectures and other college course material, mostly in the liberal arts fields, social sciences and physical and biological sciences.
Harvard Medical School Open Courseware – Harvard’s medical school.  Workshops, forums and lectures are here to help you learn more about medicine.
Open Learning Institute – Affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, they take a different approach to learning that focuses on targeted feedback and assessment.
Academic Earth – There’s a long selection of college lectures from over a dozen universities.  Plus, there’s a lot of original content too.
Coursera – There are over 542 courses from a long list of universities across the country to choose from.
Kutztown University – Based in Pennsylvania, this online resources boasts one of the largest of free, on-demand entrepreneurial training resources available online.
OEDb – It’s a collection of over 10,000 free open courses are available from some of the top universities around the world.
EdX – Free courses from many major universities designed for interactive study on the web.
Tufts Open Courseware – A long list of online courses from Tufts University.  A good selection of diverse topics to learn about.
DukeU – Duke University offers many courses that are, unfortunately, only available through iTunes
Open2Study – These courses seem more like training videos such as the one on negotiation and conflict resolution or becoming a confident trainer.  They aren’t on-demand classes either, you have to sign up and take them on the designated days.
Open Education Consortium – A global network of universities from around the world that offer diverse courses in multiple languages.
Online-only Universities
University of Reddit – It’s an online university as provided by Reddit.
Wikiversity – Run by the Wikimedia Foundation which also runs Wikipedia.  It’s similar to all their sites in that it is openly edited.  There’s not much content yet, but it has potential to grow quickly.
Alison – The company’s stated objective is to enable people to gain basic education and workplace skills.  It focuses on helping you gain important job skills.
BBC Languages – A useful resource to help you learn a variety of mostly European languages.  It doesn’t look like they’re updating the site anymore, but there is still good info on it.
DuoLingo – Learn language by doing it.  Each lesson includes a variety of speaking, writing, listening, translating and multiple choice.  It’s very good.
Word2Word – This site is dedicated to breaking down of language barriers and assisting the users who have the desire to learn a language.
Internet Polyglot – Free language lessons online.
Nature, Science & Math
Zooniverse – Explore topics such as how stars form or tracking genetic mysteries.  Very heavy on the science and nature topics.
Shodor – Focusing on technology, this site offers interactive activities and lessons for people looking to boost their understanding in science.
Maths & Science – Over 100,000 pages of science and math materials for students in grades 1-12 much of it downloadable.
UDACITY – Learn in-demand tech skills in these lessons that were developed by some top silicon valley companies.
Scitable – A free science library with articles focusing on genetics, cell biology and evolution.
Free Newspaper Articles and Books
The Free Library – Millions of free articles dating back to 1984 about a large variety of topics including business, leisure, government, entertainment, law and more.
Bartleby – Hundreds of free books.  Non-fiction, fiction, poetry, reference.  There are all kinds of things to read.
Project Gutenberg – Over 46,000 free high-quality ebooks.
Free Computer Books – This site contains a massive amount of books on just about anything you’d want to know about computers, programming and math.
College Open Textbooks – Free textbooks on a wide range of topics.  They’re already affiliated with over 200 colleges.
Educational Videos
TED – “Ideas worth spreading”.  A large list of videos from experts who give short, information lectures on a large variety of topics.
Khan Academy – Watch thousands of videos on a wide range of topics ranging from history and chemistry to computer science.  It’s well-organized based upon grade level so it’s easy to find a topic for your level of learning.
VideoLectures.net – Focusing mostly on science, these videos are given by distinguished scholars and scientists from conferences, schools and workshops.
Ignite – Similar to Ted talks in that the videos are lectures presented at events all over the world, but these videos are limited to around five minutes each.
UnplugTheTV – An interesting site to help you widen your range of knowledge.  When you log into the main page, it selects an educational video at random for you to watch.

Other Resources
GCFLearnFree – From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, this site offers 125 tutorials, including more than 1,100 lessons, videos, and interactives, completely free.
Drawspace – Hundreds of free drawing lessons.
My own business – This site is great for anyone learning to start a business.  It offers a lot of useful information to get started and how to expand the business once it’s going.
JustinGuitar – A lot of great guitar lessons plus some very interesting lessons on basic music theory.
Layers Magazine – Learn about photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Flash and just about anything else for the digitally creative.
CodeAcademy – Want to learn how to code?  This site provides easy, fun and interactive ways to do it.
No Excuse List – A long list of websites to learn from.  Yes, there are many more than listed here, but many here are pay only.
iTunesU – For those looking for mobile access to lessons and learning resources, this is useful.
photo credit: Angelo Amboldi

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  1. Superb list Steve – one to bookmark!

  2. Hi Steve,

    Wow, what a mega list.

    I can definitely recommend TED from your list. There are some really informative talks on there.


  3. Great compilation Steve.

    Since finishing college I get most of my education online.
    It’s the best place to learn for free (or for a small amount).
    I had the chance to learn from the best teacher I ever had on an online course.

    • I’ve only had the chance to take a few online courses. Some good, some bad. There’s so much here that you’ll eventually find some good ones to learn from.

  4. Steve! I’m so disappointed you didn’t mention my eLearning site! (I talk about it all the time on Facebook!)

    For more than a decade, the GCFLearnFree.org program has helped millions around the world learn the essential skills they need to live and work in the 21st century. From Microsoft Office and email to reading, math, and more, GCFLearnFree.org offers 125 tutorials, including more than 1,100 lessons, videos, and interactives, completely free.

  5. Another great site with classes that I would recommend is Udemy. I bookmarked this list!

  6. Hi Steve,

    I’m really interested in learning more about subjects like child psychology, sociology, theology, religious studies, stuff like that. Can you recommend anywhere in particular for these types of subjects or should I try the university’s? I’m from the UK so I don’t really know the US university’s at all.

    I definitely going to try the guitar site you recommended though, I’ve been trying to learn for years! Also really like duolingo.


    • I saw a small section on child psychology on Wikiversity (very small). There’s also some on Yale’s site and Coursera. The easiest way to find it is to click on the sites and do a search. Most of these sites have a search feature and you’ll find good information on just about any topic that way.

      I like duolingo too, a lot. I downloaded their free app and I use it every day to pick up more French vocabulary and keep up my skills in that area. I recommend it.

  7. Great list!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    I love listening to TED Talks as they always blow my mind and get me to really think.

    I also love how you can take so many courses for free from colleges online. I’ve signed up for a few so far and just the opportunity they provide me with.

    • Isn’t it great how many college courses from top rated schools are on here? There are topics on just about anything. The internet is a pretty cool place for great resources like this.

  8. I would like to recommend http://www.topfreebooks.org


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