12 Free Tools to learn just about anything online
Lifelong learners are continuously using the internet to foster self-directed learning. They take advantage of the numerous free tools and resources online to keep developing current and new skills. Obviously, you are already using one or more of these tools; but probably not to full potential. The interesting thing about technology is that it makes tasks so easy to perform that you easily overlook or don’t recognize how much effort it took to build.
Think of that new skill you want to acquire; whether dog training, cooking, baking, programming, web developing, psychology, how to start a business, how to write admission essay, how to singing, you name it. You can learn these skills online. And the best part; you can learn it all for free or near-free.
No point stating the benefits of learning something new; like the added advantage in job searching, the empowerment possibilities, the confidence of knowing or probably a better chance at the hot-sit of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ TV show. We just have to keep learning.
The only possible challenge with online learning might be related to not having a personal computer and internet connectivity. But yet again, you mustn’t have a computer to use most educational and informative online learning tools. With a smart mobile phone, you can adopt some of the learning methods mentioned here with ease.
Keep learning with one or more of the following readily available tools and resources.
1. Take free online courses
You’re already expecting this one since it’s been a regular theme here on AfterSchoolAfrica. Are you really taking advantage of these free learning resources? There are several online learning platforms like edX, Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, Alison, MIT Courseware, University of the people and several others. See a list of the most popular online learning platforms.
2. Learn Out Loud
LearnOutLoud is about using audio and video educational material, available online for personal and professional development. You download or play online and listen to educational and informative audio recording. With this learning method, you can maximize any time (time spent commuting, exercising, doing chores, etc.) into ‘learning time.’ Most of us have at least a couple of hours each day where we could be learning a foreign language, deepening our spiritual or philosophical interests or learning about any of hundreds of different subjects.
Most of the audio contents come in MP3 version, so you can download on your phone, play and replay whenever you want. LearnOutLoud.com is one of the many web resources for this purpose. Run a quick search on your favorite search engine to find free materials to Learn Out Loud.
3. Get on YouTube
YouTube; to share videos with friends, family, and the world, is blazing with informative content and tutorials. You can find a video on just about anything you can think of. Just enter the keyword related to what you are looking for; like “How to live forever,” and in seconds, you get an overwhelming list of videos showing you how. You will want to use social signals (number of views, likes, shares) to decide which is worth your time. But careful; Youtube can be distracting. So you don’t waste your internet subscription watching worthless videos.
4. Make Google search your best friend
Most likely, you are already a search engine user; Google or not. You use Google search tool to find information, products, services, people and stuffs. But there is more to Google search engine than meets the eyes. Google search offers many features that make searching and finding a lot easier. There is a free online course on how to use Google search more effectively to find what you are looking for.
5. Feed on your RSS
RSS Rich Site Summary (often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format
RSS is an amazing web technology that brings the filtered web to your domain. If you receive email updates on latest posts/news from a website or blog like this one, or read a site’s latest news from an RSS reader, you are probably subscribed to an RSS feed. Use this powerful tool to filter information on your topic of interest to be delivered to your email address or RSS reader. And keep in touch with latest news and information in your area of interest.
6. Amazon is hot
When was the last time you read a book online, (eBooks or digital-books)? Amazon is the number one digital and paperback book seller online. eBooks are great to learn new things and improve existing knowledge. Interestingly, they are easily affordable on Amazon. One thing though, eBooks sold on Amazon require Kindle device to read.
7. Free PDF eBooks
There are lots of free eBooks available on the internet; so much of them and quality ones too. If you want to learn programming with Python (programming language) for instance, start by searching for “Free eBooks on Python for Beginners” and you are likely to find a free eBook on the subject that you can download and read on any PDF reader. Most of the download sites allow you to download eBooks for free, while some require a premium membership free for unrestricted download. It’s then about how ready you are to read.
8. Social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other sisters are a great source of learning. The learning process on these social platforms may not be as ordered and controlled as some other learning tools but it depends on how you use them. You can follow experts or authority sources on their social media page or profile to keep up with a topic of interest. You can engage in niche-based discussion groups, ask questions and get response from knowledgeable members. There is a discussion social media group for almost any subject. If you can’t find one for your interest, start one.
9. Ask an expert
In truth, whatever you want to learn about, there is someone with experience in the field. And you can find them online. You just have to search them out. Use search engines, and social media to find experts in the skills you want to learn about, follow their profile or page. Out of the pool, chances are that you will find someone who is knowledgeable and willing to offer some practical advice.
10. Read blogs
Blogs are great source of learning. And there is an ever-growing community of blog publishers. In the blog community you’ll find experts, professional, and everyday ordinary people with the passion to teach and share. Blogs allow you to directly and progressively learn from everyday people with minimal to zero bureaucracy.
11. Build a blog. Teach for free
You know the saying, ‘The best way to learn is to teach’. This is just about a proverbial circle of people and organisations using internet tools to deliver information and people using associated tools to find them. Just as one can learn anything online, one can equally educate, inform, inspire or entertain others online. You can start a personal blog about an area of interest and use it to document your process as you learn along. People with similar interest will find and read your blog. They will want to learn more. You learn more and provide your readers with more relevant information. That’s about how most blogs and websites you have come to know were built; Yes, including this one. The best part, you can earn income from your blog eventually plus more benefits.
12. Join discussion forums
Discussion forums are helpful source of learning and meeting people with similar interest. Members respond to questions and topics by other members. However, you have to be conscious of forum rules and not come off as a spammer.
So I mentioned; online learning platforms, Search engines, RSS, Blogs, Forums, Social media, Youtube(Video), Learn Out Loud(Audio), eBooks, Amazon Kindle. What other tools do you use to learn on daily bases and how do you use any of the tools mentioned here?
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