online learning

The best FREE resources to learn a new skill (or refresh existing ones)

online learning

In my role at Synergis, I live and breathe learning and development and finding the right training courses for our employees. I especially love when I find a resource that offers free classes. And in this time of remote working and the increased need for online courses, there are more options than ever before to choose from.

If you’re like me, I am taking some of this time at home to learn some new skills and brush up on existing ones. It’s a great time to build your arsenal of skills to either make yourself more appealing to hiring managers, or just learn how to do your job better!

So, I’ve compiled a list of sites that offer online training classes, with lots of free options!

LinkedIn Learning. By signing up for LinkedIn Learning’s Course Club, each quarter, you get free access to a selection of the most popular online courses. This quarter’s courses are all focused on navigating the new normal of remote work. These courses feature tips from remote work experts to help with: maximizing efficiency and productivity, managing the impact of adjusting to your new work environment and remotely managing and leading teams. Sign up now and get ready for a whole new list of courses to come out in July.

edX. If you’re looking for online courses from the top universities in the world, this is your answer. Founded by MIT and Harvard, edX is a nonprofit platform aiming to change education and enable people to learn without the usual financial or geographical restraints. You can opt for a MicroMasters program (upwards of $1,200), MicroBachelors program ($166 per credit) or verified certificate (varies), but you can also just do the courses for free to up your skills. Courses to check out:

Coursera. A leading online learning platform for higher education, Coursera is where 60 million learners from around the world come to learn skills of the future. Coursera offers courses, specializations, certificates and degree programs (some of them at a cost). Every course on Coursera is taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies, so you can learn something new anytime, anywhere. Hundreds of free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises and community discussion forums. Some courses to look into:

Udemy Free Resource Center. Launched in 2010, Udemy was set up as a way for instructors to create and run their own online courses. Now, it’s up to 57,000 instructors around the globe, and 150,000 courses. Most courses cost around $15 but can go all the way up to $300. Luckily, in April 2020, the team released the Udemy Free Resource Center, a collection of 170 free online courses to help people upskill. Some courses of note include:

General Assembly. Started in 2011 as a co-working space, General Assembly is now a global learning business focused on closing the skills gap seen by many U.S. companies. General Assembly’s online courses in coding, design, data, marketing, business, and career development, are free. The others can come with a hefty cost, so be aware of what you’re signing up for. But in the listings, they put FREE really big and bold, so it’s pretty obvious. Some of the upcoming livestream classes:

BONUS: If you’re just looking for something to do, FutureLearn has a whole section of “Boredom-busting courses” such as how to write your first song and an introduction to recreational math.

I’m a big believer in the power of learning. I think Brian Herbert said it best when he said, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.”

About the author

As Director of Learning and Development, Ashley Harwell drives learning and development strategies that support business objectives while promoting an environment where employees can grow and succeed. She began with Synergis in 2006 as a Technical Recruiter and advanced her career within the organization. Her breadth of experience includes talent management, employee relations, compliance and total rewards. Prior to her current role, she served as the Director of HR and Strategic Initiatives. Ashley graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and holds a SHRM certification.