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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 September 17, 2019

                                          How to Delegate Work Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide)

                                          How to Delegate Work Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide)

                                          All managers and leaders must master the art of delegation. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Knowing how to delegate is also essential for an effective leadership.

                                          To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team who can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.

                                          In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how it benefits your team, and how to delegate work effectively.

                                          The Importance of Delegation

                                          An effective leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis. Effective delegation also promotes productivity within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises.[1]

                                          When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and efficient leader who respects their skills and needs.

                                          Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit.[2]

                                          Here’s an example of bad delegation:

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                                            Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.[3]

                                            The Fear of Delegating Tasks

                                            Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate.[4] Why? Here’re some common reasons:[5]

                                            • They may resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
                                            • They may be willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle an increased degree of responsibility.
                                            • They may suspect that their staff is already overworked, and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
                                            • They may suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
                                            • They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
                                            • They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.

                                            Delegation vs Allocation

                                            Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.[6]

                                            When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it–it’s that simple. On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. Rather, they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for outcomes.[7]

                                            How to Delegate Work Effectively (A Step-By-Step Guide)

                                            So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team and work faster? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

                                            1. Know When to Delegate

                                            By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.

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                                            This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:

                                            Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.

                                            Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.[8]

                                            When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:

                                            • Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
                                            • Does this require your attention to be successful?
                                            • Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
                                            • Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
                                            • Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?

                                            2. Identify the Best Person for the Job

                                            You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.

                                            Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. They’ll be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.

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                                            Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.

                                            You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.

                                            3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In

                                            After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job. [9] When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

                                            When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.

                                            4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work

                                            It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due.[10] If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.

                                            By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.

                                            This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.

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                                            5. Support Your Employees

                                            To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have.[11] It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.

                                            Sometimes employees need a help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegation. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.

                                            Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.

                                            6. Show Your Appreciation

                                            During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated.[12] Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.

                                            Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.

                                            Bottom Line

                                            Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.

                                            To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.

                                            Delegation might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.

                                            More About Delegation

                                            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                                            Reference

                                            [1] BOS Staffing: 5 Benefits Of Delegation – Empower Your Team
                                            [2] Brian Tracy International: How to Delegate The Right Tasks To The Right People: Effective Management Skills For Leadership Success
                                            [3] MindTools: Successful Delegation: Using The Power Of Other People’s Help
                                            [4] Fast Company: The Three Most Common Fears About Delegation: Debunked
                                            [5] Leadership Skills Training: Delegation
                                            [6] Abhinav Jain: Delegation of work vs Allocation of work
                                            [7] Anthony Donovan: Management Training: Delegating Effectively
                                            [8] Management 3.0: Practice: Delegation Board
                                            [9] Focus: The Creativity and Productivity Blog: A Guide to Delegating Tasks Effectively
                                            [10] Inc.: 6 Ways to Delegate More Effectively
                                            [11] The Muse: The 10 Rules of Successful Delegation
                                            [12] Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer: The Progress Principle

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