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You Need To Visit These 20 Websites If You Want To Learn New Skills

You Need To Visit These 20 Websites If You Want To Learn New Skills

Are you still trying to think of a clever goal to work toward this year? How about challenging yourself to learn a new skill? Or even better, several!

Just imagine, by the end of the year you could be coding your own website, conversing in Mandarin, networking with ease, publishing your first book, or properly using that DSLR camera. You don’t have to leave your couch, much less take a student loan, to learn these and thousands of other skills from some of the best teachers and educational institutions in the world.

Whatever you can dream of learning, these 20 websites can probably teach it to you — maybe even for free. So, what are you waiting for? Make this year one of personal development!

Coursera

With more than 1,500 courses to choose from, Coursera can bring you new skills in practically any field a university offers — business, social sciences, math, life sciences, and humanities, to name a few. Coursera partners with 140 educational institutions across the globe to provide video lectures and interactive quizzes. You also get peer-graded assessments and social support from other learners. Some courses are free, while others cost up to $400 (this fee includes an official Certificate of Completion).

Skillshare

With an emphasis on “learn by doing,” Skillshare offers more than 2,500 self-paced classes spanning creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, and technology. More than 200 classes are free, but if you want to unlock the rest, you can either pay per course or become a member for just $10 per month (after a two-week free trial). Skillshare encourages students to learn by uploading and collaborating on projects. While industry leaders like Seth Godin have taught many of Skillshare’s courses, the opportunity to become a teacher is now open to everyone.

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Cody

Cody’s mission is to combine the power of physical movement, technology, and community to help you become your best self. While the emphasis is on yoga and weight training, Cody also offers high-quality video plans for weightlifting and meditation. Plans are available for all levels, including “Gymnastics Core Virtuosity,” “FitFlow,” and “Power of Ceremony”. You can purchase discounted bundles or single plans, most priced at $39.99.

Udacity

Developed with industry giants such as Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, and Cloudera, Udacity offers hands-on “nanodegree” programs and credentials to help people become web developers, data analysts, and mobile developers. Each Udacity course includes several units with closed-caption video lectures and quizzes to help students understand concepts and reinforce ideas. Udacity programs cost $200 per month and vary in duration.

Lynda

A 20-year veteran in online learning, Lynda has amassed a library of 4000+ video-based online learning courses. Created by a pool of curated authors, the courses teach technical skills for developers, designers, educators, photographers, and marketers, as well as soft skills for business professionals. Unlimited access to all course content will run you about $25 per month after a 10-day free trial.

Udemy

With 35,000 courses and 19,000 instructors, Udemy is the 800-pound gorilla in the online learning space. Courses are offered across a breadth of categories, including business and entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health and fitness, language, music, and technology. Udemy offers both paid and free courses, depending on the instructor, but most courses are priced between $29 and $299.

CreativeLive

As the name suggests, CreativeLive broadcasts live workshops with creative experts from around the world on topics such as photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software development. The site offers more than 600 classes that you can purchase à la carte for about $100 to $200 each. Or, you can watch unlimited live broadcasts for free. Each class includes dozens of lessons and bonus reading materials.

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Treehouse

Treehouse is where beginners and intermediate coders can learn or expand their web development and/or design skills. Treehouse has different tracks depending on your interests — you can start down the ruby web development track and detour into web design without missing a beat. With more than 1,000 high-quality videos, Treehouse is a great investment for beginners. Pricing starts at $25 per month.

Curious

The Curious model — bite-sized sections, attachments, and exercises — is based on the premise that people who “stretch their brain” for a few minutes a day are happier, more successful, and live longer. Curious offers more than 20,000 lessons: You can learn to tie camping knots, master card tricks, train a dog, bake a wedding cake, even develop an awesome memory. The lessons are accessible on any device, including Roku. After a lengthy “CQ Interview” to generate your personal “learning wheel,” you start a 30-day free trial and then pay $89.99 for a year of unlimited access. Curious says 70% of subscription fees are channeled back to the 1,700 teachers who provide the content.

Learnist

Often referred to as the Pinterest of online learning, Learnist is a crowd-sourced learning platform that features “learnboards” — images, videos, and text on topics such as technology, arts, crafts, history, and cooking. Learn to make latte art, win at Yahtzee, nail a job interview, or pack a suitcase like a flight attendant! Though most of the content is user-generated and free, Learnist now offers 99-cent premium boards created by experts.

GMB Fitness

GMB’s mission is to make you better at whatever activities you enjoy. With a curriculum of training programs that build strength, flexibility, and body control, GMB focuses on “movement re-education” and “physical autonomy”. Plans start with foundational movement, move to flexibility and strength, and finally shift to specific skills like using gymnastic rings and parallettes. GMB also offers an extensive library of free science-based articles and tutorials. Pricing varies, but you can purchase training plans individually or in bundles. Unlimited access costs $995.

America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School

Sharpen your knife skills, discover what your slow cooker can really do. Become a master griller, or learn to roast vegetables with America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School. Based on the recipes featured in Cook’s illustrated magazine, this well-established online cooking school offers a catalog of more than 200 courses, including Cooking Basics, Recipe Lessons, Technique Lessons, and In-Depth Courses. Membership also comes with access to the instructors for personalized guidance and support. Membership costs $19.95 per month or $179.95 for a year of unlimited access.

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Guides.co

A marketplace for how-to content on life, work, and small business, Guides.co features hundreds of “guides”. Examples include: ”How to Get Your First 1,000 Customers,” “The Ultimate Kitchen Organizer,” and so on. Structured like a book, the guides feature easy-to-navigate sections, interactive content, and discussion forums on each page. Guides can be updated by the author at any time, so unlike with a book, the content can stay current. Guides.co allows companies to create branded mini-sites to replace existing white papers, e-books, and how-to content. Guide pricing ranges from free (the majority) to $200.

Code.org

A non-profit organization and website, Code.org is on a mission to get adults and children alike interested in coding and computer science.The website includes free coding lessons for beginners. For those who want to dive more deeply into subjects such as javascript and iPad development, Code.org offers curated collections of the best learning resources from partners such as Grock Learning and Kahn Academy.

Duolingo

Do you understand Spanish but stumble when you try to speak it? Want to learn Italian before your trip to Rome? With Duolingo, you can learn 15 different languages in fun, bite-sized lessons. All it takes is 5 to 20 minutes a day. If you’re not a complete beginner, you can take a placement test to determine your starting point. Duolingo has yet to add Asian languages, but it is ad-free and offers all courses free of charge. Taking a test for an official Duolingo certificate of English fluency costs $20. Other language certifications will be added in the future.

Kahn Academy

Providing free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere, the nonprofit Kahn Academy offers practice exercises and instructional videos in math, science, computer programming, history, art history, and economics, including prep for tests like the SAT, GMAT and MCAT. Catering to learners of all ages, Kahn Academy features online tools for parents and teachers who wish to monitor their child’s or student’s progress to see where they may need offline coaching support. Every Kahn Academy class is free; donations are welcomed and encouraged from those who can afford to contribute.

Drawspace

Internationally respected as one of the largest and most comprehensive art education websites, Drawspace is where you can master shading techniques, learn to sketch people and animals, create cartoons, or try your hand at acrylic painting. About 15% of the 428 lessons on Drawspace are free. An annual, unlimited membership costs about $150.

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edX

A nonprofit, open-source learning destination founded by Harvard University and MIT, edX offers nearly 200 wildly diverse courses. Want to learn Mandarin, accounting basics, supply chain management, or how to write a novel? You can do it at no cost, though a small donation is suggested. If you want an official certificate of achievement to add to your LinkedIn profile, you’ll pay about $50 per course.

Rouxbe Cooking School

Rouxbe is a members-only culinary community for motivated home and professional cooks. Offering instructor-guided certification courses for all levels, Rouxbe believes the most effective way to learn to cook is to understand the techniques behind recipes. A one-time initiation fee of $299.95 provides students with full access to site. In addition, students are charged $4.95 monthly for as long as they want access to Rouxbe’s content and service. Rouxbe’s online professional certification courses cost about $1,500, have a limited number of seats, and are designed for serious cooks and aspiring culinary professionals.

Highbrow

Born from a desire to help people gain new knowledge in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee, Highbrow emails you 5-minute lessons each day for ten days. You can choose from 56 free courses, taking one at a time. Anyone can create a Highbrow email course, so the topics are eclectic, ranging from “Superfoods You Should Know About” to “The Science of Happiness” to “A Brief History of Architecture.”

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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