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20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free

20 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free

It seems like these days you can learn just about anything online for free, but of course some of that information is better than others. The good news is there are plenty of reputable places to educate yourself online for free, and here’s a good 20 of them to get you started.

1. Coursera

The coolest thing about Internet learning is that you can take college courses which in the past were only available to people who forked over immense sums of money to attend elite colleges. Coursera brings a bunch of those classes together into one site, offering nearly 400 courses ranging from Introduction to Guitar from Berklee College of Music to Constitutional Law from Yale.

Courses typically include videos and certain coursework (such as online quizzes) that must be completed in a certain amount of time, as these courses are monitored by a professor. Stop by regularly to see what’s new, or search for topics that interest you can put them on a watch list so you’ll be notified when a new class begins.

Coursera

    2. Khan Academy

    Home to more than 3,000 videos on subjects ranging from SAT prep to cosmology, art history to calculus, Khan Academy is a great place to learn. Detailed courses are broken into smaller sections of text or videos for ease of learning that fits into your schedule, and all are self-paced so you can spend as much or as little time with the subject as you like.

    You can also leave comments or ask questions if you want more information or if something isn’t clear in the lessons.

    Khan Academy

      3. OpenCourseWare

      The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide effort to make college and university level course materials accessible for free on the Internet. Search for a specific topic that interests you, or search by language (20 are available) or the source of the coursework.

      There are more than 5,000 classes in English alone, covering everything from statistical thermodynamics (Middle East Technical University) to Epidemics in South African History (University of Cape Town) and Creole Language and Culture (University of Notre Dame).

      OpenCourseWare

        4. ALISON

        A global-learning resource with courses in English, French and German, ALISON covers everything from SAT prep to health and safety courses required in Ireland. There are lessons on everything from study skills to American copyright law, currency exchange to nonprofit fundraising, and general accounting to negotiating when buying a house.

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        Completion of a course grants you “certification,” which is a British designation, but it’s still kind of fun.

        Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.20.33 PM

          5. MIT Open Courseware

          If you always wanted to attend a big-name school like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now you can do the next best thing by taking many of its courses for free from your home on your own time. The MIT Open Courseware site posts course materials from a wide variety of classes you can search by department.

          Choosing a course will show you when it was originally taught and by whom, and will give you access to the syllabus, course calendar, readings, assignments and study materials. You can download the course materials and work through the course at your own pace.

          MIT Open Courseware

            6. Academic Earth

            If you’d like a broader collection of courses than MIT provides, Academic Earth is a great place to look. This free course aggregator has a stunning collection of courses from around 50 universities across the globe. You can search by source or general subject.

            Don’t miss the curated playlists on topics such as natural laws, the nature of evil and the economic crisis. The video electives—with subjects like how to take a punch and why World War II made us fat—are lots of fun, too.

            Academic Earth

              7. Open Learning Institute

              The Open Learning Institute from Carnegie Mellon University allows access to a handful of course materials so you can learn at your own pace from the same kind of materials and self-guided assessments that would be used in a classroom. Their offerings are limited, but there’s a lot of detail in the coursework. Instructor-led courses are also sometimes available.

              Open Learning Institute

                8. Open Culture

                This site isn’t very pretty, but Open Culture does boast a collection of more than 700 downloadable courses, including college-level, certificate-bearing classes, language lessons, educational materials for K-12 and more.

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                There are also just some interesting links that aren’t to courses but you’ll still learn something from, such as this post on a reading list suggested by Ernest Hemingway.

                One culture

                  9. Open Education Database

                  The well-designed Open Education Database claims more than 10,000 courses from universities from around the world. Search by topic and you’ll see the number of full courses, as well as which courses have audio lessons, video lessons or mixed media, so you can learn in whatever way you like.

                  You can also use this site to learn about online and offline schools, should you choose to continue your education in a more formal way.

                  Open Education Database

                    10. iTunes U

                    Many of these same online courses can be accessed away from your computer with the help of iTunes U, a free app that can be downloaded to you iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. It says that it includes 500,000 different courses, with material ranging from elementary school to college-level.

                    There’s also educational material here from respected institutions like the New York Public Library and MoMA. You can also add notes to the videos, share with friends and keep your course materials in iBooks so you have everything you need to learn wherever you are.

                    iTunes U

                      11. TED

                      The TED talks are a legendary source of information on all sorts of topics, and any discussion of how to educate yourself for free online needs to include them. There are now thousands of videos on all sorts of topics available on the site.

                      If you’re a fan of whimsy you can also get the site to suggest a fascinating, beautiful or informative video for you, among other tags. This may not be formal education but it certainly can be life-changing.

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                      TED

                        12. 99U

                        Love videos by experts on all sorts of topics? After you visit TED, check out 99U, which is another great source of educational videos on all sorts of topics. It has a strong focus on the subject of creativity, business development and innovation, so it’s sure to be of interest if you’re an entrepreneur or in a creative line of work.

                        99U

                          13. Ignite

                          If you want to learn something new and you’re really pressed for time, check out Ignite videos. The purpose of this series of speaking events is to have each person share something innovative or inspiring in just five minutes. Sounds silly, but you can get a big dose of greatness in a short amount of time.

                          Ignite

                            14. Wikiversity

                            If you prefer your learning to be text-based, check out Wikiversity. As you might imagine, this site is part of the Wikimedia Foundation and includes detailed pages on a variety of subjects. It includes information of value to learners from preschool to college and beyond, and like other wiki projects is open-source and collaborative.

                            This is a good site or browsing, and the “random” button is a lot of fun.

                            Wikiversity

                              15. Project Gutenberg

                              Access more than 4,200 free ebooks at Project Gutenberg, an excellent source for public domain books from throughout history as well as contemporary free ebooks. You’ll find literature, historic documents, nonfiction books on all sorts of subjects and much more, all free and downloadable to your computer or ereader.

                              Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.30.13 PM

                                16. Bartleby

                                A similar resource is Bartleby, which boasts a large collection of reference works, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. There are some really great resources here such as The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, Oxford Shakespeare, Bullfinch’s Mythology, Bartlett’s Quotations and much more.

                                This is a great site to look at if you’re looking for quotes about a specific subject or just want to delve into the classics you probably should have read in school.

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                                Bartleby

                                  17. The Free Library

                                  Boasting a collection of more than 21 million free articles and books, The Free Library is the place to go for access to newspapers, magazines, journal articles (from 1984 to the present) and classic books. It’s a great place to start if you’re doing research for an academic paper or just want to find out more about a particular topic.

                                  You can search by keyword or browse by source, topic or author, or just look at random articles and see what develops.

                                  The Free Library
                                    udacity

                                      18. Udacity

                                      Video courses in math, computer science, business, physics and psychology are available for free at Udacity. This clean site is easy to navigate and has the added bonus of a little icon next to the videos that shows you how advanced a course is so you know to start with an easier course if you’re new to a subject.

                                      Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.42.26 PM

                                        19. YouTube

                                        It seems that just about anything you could ever want to learn is available these days on YouTube for instant, bite-sized, free consumption. Browse channels to find general topics that interest you, or search for the specific thing you want to learn and you’ll be on your way in no time.

                                        There are more than 6,000 channels in the science and education section, more than 600 in cooking and nearly 2,000 in DIY, so whatever you want to educate yourself about you’re sure to find something good here.

                                        youtube

                                          20. Google, etc.

                                          The search engines are a great place to start if you have something specific you are looking for. Google in particular provides a great overview of subjects right in your browser. Search for a person and you’ll get a mini bio without clicking on any other pages, and you’ll have lots of places to go for more information. This is your best bet if you’re looking for specialized information, because all of these sites are general and Google can let you know the best places to go to find exactly what you’re looking for.

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                                          Sarah White

                                          Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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                                          Last Updated on October 17, 2018

                                          7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                                          7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

                                          How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

                                          If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

                                          Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

                                          So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

                                          1. Meditate

                                          We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

                                          Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

                                          Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

                                          Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

                                          Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

                                          If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

                                          And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

                                          2. Get plenty of sleep

                                          If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

                                          If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

                                          How much sleep should you be getting?

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                                          Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

                                          Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

                                          Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

                                          Yes, there are.

                                          Try these three things:

                                          • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
                                          • Don’t eat too late
                                          • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

                                          Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

                                          However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

                                          3. Challenge your brain

                                          When was the last time you challenged your brain?

                                          I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

                                          To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

                                          Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

                                          There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

                                          • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                                          • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
                                          • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

                                          If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

                                          Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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                                          4. Take more breaks

                                          When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

                                          At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

                                          However, I was wrong.

                                          Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

                                          Let me explain.

                                          Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

                                          Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

                                          It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

                                          It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

                                          What’s the answer?

                                          Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

                                          If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

                                          5. Learn a new skill

                                          I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

                                          “Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

                                          From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

                                          Let me give you an example of this:

                                          Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

                                          Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

                                          The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

                                          Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

                                          Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

                                          6. Start working out

                                          If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

                                          Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

                                          Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

                                          “But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

                                          Not a problem.

                                          A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

                                          Interested in getting started?

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                                          Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

                                          • Join a gym
                                          • Join a sports team
                                          • Buy a bike
                                          • Take up hiking
                                          • Dance to your favorite music

                                          7. Eat healthier foods

                                          I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

                                          This applies to your brain too.

                                          The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

                                          Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

                                          Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

                                          Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

                                          • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
                                          • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
                                          • Nuts – improves memory
                                          • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
                                          • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

                                          Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

                                          Final thoughts

                                          I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

                                          You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

                                          But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

                                          Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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