Awesome (and Free!) Online Learning Resources

Awesome (and Free!) Online Learning Resources

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Though most of us dream of working less and playing more during our retirement years, many of us also aspire to remain "lifelong learners." Today, learning new things is easier than ever, particularly for boomers. Instead of signing up for courses at a community college or a local recreation center, seniors can now study practically any subject from the comfort of their own homes.

Would you like to learn a new skill or brush up your foreign language skills? To continue your education, check out these great online learning resources!


For Knowledge: edX, Coursera, Udacity

Have you ever dreamed of taking a course at a prestigious university like Harvard or MIT? Is there a subject you've always wanted to learn more about, such as music theory or software development? If so, you will be excited to learn about edX.

Alongside similar websites like Udacity and Coursera, edX is a portal for online higher education courses. Though courses cover all subject areas, there are an especially high number of engineering, business, and computer science courses available. Most of these college-level courses can be taken free of charge. Most providers also offer a certificate of completion for a small fee.

If you're looking to go "back to school" without ever setting foot in a classroom, the courses offered by edX, Coursera, and Udacity might be for you.


For Sketching: Drawspace

Most of us can draw a little, but few of us can draw very well. If you're looking to advance beyond stick figures doodles, Drawspace is the website for you.

Drawspace is a practical website for learning the fundamentals of art. In addition to the basics of drawing and shading, the site offers lessons for more advanced artists. Though not all lessons are available without a paid membership, well over 100 lessons are available for free.

If you're looking for something fun and creative to learn during your retirement years, consider taking up sketching. With Drawspace, you can finally unleash your inner artist.


For Languages: Duolingo & Memrise

Duolingo and Memrise are two great resources for learning new languages. These sites are also ideal for brushing up on languages you may not have studied in years.

Duolingo is perhaps the best-known online resource for learning languages. The learning system is set up in a game-like fashion. Lessons involve typing out phrases, using words to construct sentences, and speaking aloud. Users gain experience points as they progress through lessons. Once a lesson is complete, users can branch out into other lessons, which often cover specific types of words or grammatical rules. English-speakers can currently learn German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Irish, Ukrainian, and Esperanto using Duolingo. The program is available online as well as on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Memrise is an equally useful tool for language-learning. Unlike Duolingo, Memrise uses the classic flashcard system to help users learn new languages. Users can also add images or phrases to the pre-made flashcards to help them remember the words. These "Mems" are also added by other users, making it easier to remember challenging words and phrases. Memrise users can study languages ranging from Chinese to Spanish to Russian. The platform even allows users to study other subjects, including history, the arts, and computer programming. Truly ambitious learners have the opportunity to make their own flashcard decks as well.

Whether you'd like to retire abroad or are simply looking to learn a new language for fun, Duolingo and Memrise are two resources that are well worth using.


For Skills & Crafts: Instructables

Whatever it is that you want to make or build, there's probably a guide for it on Instructables. From do-it-yourself lip balm to hand-crafted furniture, Instructables has guides for almost any creative project you can imagine. Instructables guides are generally highly detailed, walking users through the step-by-step process of working on a project. Though Instructables offers a diverse assortment of guides, the site is particularly useful for cooking, crafting, home renovation, and tech projects.

To learn a specific skill or work on a particular household project, check out

There are endless possibilities for learning new skills online. Whether you'd like to dabble in a subject area you're interested in or pursue a serious course of study, these free resources are a great place to get started.

Editor, 09/03/2015