Amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, you are likely one of millions who are staying at home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. A lockdown order means not only that social activities like gathering with family and meeting friends for coffee are put on hold, but also that the job market and the world of work are experiencing seismic shifts. So, while your job search may be somewhat more challenging these days, the good news is that there is probably as much time for learning and skill building as you may have ever wanted but were too busy to take advantage of.
Thanks to the amazing expansion of technology and the Internet, there is a wealth of online learning opportunities at your fingertips. To support those of us forced to join the workplace exodus and stay at home except for essential needs, many universities and distance learning organizations are offering free access to an unprecedented array of courses. This could be the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of access to the world’s best knowledge bases.
The Tri-Valley Career Center has researched and compiled a list of learning portals that provide a wide variety of free or very low cost online training programs and resources that may help you build your skills and potentially expand your future career opportunities. We encourage you to take a look at how some of these free online training programs and resources can help you advance your skills while you’re at home.
- Metrix Online Learning For a limited time, the Alameda County Workforce Development Board is offering the general public no-cost Metrix Learning online courses usually restricted to enrolled clients. You can access a catalog of over 5,000 courses and get free training for 180 days to build your skills and prepare for your next job.
- LinkedIn Learning offers a 30-day free trial on a wide range of business, technology and creative training. After 30 days the cost is $19.99/month for an annual subscription or $29.99/month for a monthly subscription.
- Free online Ivy League Courses provides access to 450 free courses from Ivy League institutions.
- edX offers access to over 2500 free online courses from 140 Ivy League institutions.
- The Coursera Blog has compiled a list of free online learning and resources to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Alison offers free online courses from the world’s leading experts.
- American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) is offering free online hospitality training for a limited period.
- Digital Defynd has compiled a list of free online certifications and courses available from major universities and online academies, with links and detailed information on programs at Stanford, MIT, Khan Academy, Microsoft Learn and many more.
- Udemy offers 100,000 online video courses at very reasonable pricing (starting at $10.99/course)
- Log in to your LinkedIn account and type #freetraining in the search box in the upper left corner to find postings on a wide variety of free training programs.
- Take advantage of many free online resources from your local public libraries:
- Livermore Public Library Digital Library
- Pleasanton Public Library
- Dublin/Alameda County Library eLibrary
App expert Tetiana Hanchar (Free online classes to beat your COVID-19 loneliness) is recommending a number of free online programs for those interested in developing their technology or language skills:
Free Online Information Technology Courses
- freeCodeCampis an open source community that helps you learn how to code. You can start with the basics, such as HTML and CSS, and proceed to learning the programming language of your choice.
- Class Central offers free access to CS50’s introduction to Computer Science, a self-paced course developed by Harvard University, which covers the basics of all major programming languages (Certificate available for $90).
- ai offers a free deep learning course for those who have at least 1 year of coding experience. The course includes natural language processing, machine learning and other subjects that will very likely define the future of software engineering.
Learn a New Language Online for Free
- Duolingo is a huge free online platform where language learning is split into small interactive challenges.
- HelloTalk is a free platform that helps you learn a language by chatting with native speakers.
- Wokabulary(free access for Setapp members) focuses on vocabulary for 100+ languages using digital flashcards and interactive quizzes, all available inside a single app interface.
Hanchar also highlights some helpful tools to boost your quarantine studies, including:
- Studies, a digital tutor that allows you to organize your notes, develop a personalized study plan, create goals, set a schedule and monitor your progress.
- Be Focused, a productivity timer to help you overcome the distractions that are common at home and get more things done more efficiently.\
- MarginNote, a learning assistant that helps you capture whatever you want while reading a book or working using flashcards, mind maps, notes and other tools.
Forbes senior contributor Zack Friedman (Here Are The Top 7 Websites For Free Online Education) is showcasing some of the many online education websites that offer academic courses for a fraction of the cost of traditional colleges and universities, making them ideal for lifelong learners. As Friedman points out, the rapid development of online learning means that you don’t need to attend an Ivy League institution to get a world-class education. Friedman recommends checking out the following websites that provide access to many free online academic courses, including:
- Stanford Online, an education initiative at Stanford University, provides free online courses as well as professional certificates, advanced degrees and executive education. Stanford Online offers courses from Stanford’s undergraduate and graduate schools, including Stanford Law School, Stanford Business School and Stanford Medical School, among others. Sample Free Courses: Introduction to Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Through the Lens of Venture Capital, How to Learn Math
- Codeacademy is an interactive platform that teaches you how to code in multiple different programming languages and has helped train more than 45 million learners in topics such as web development, programming, computer science and data science. Most free courses can be completed in less than 11 hours, and there is also a premium plan for a monthly fee that expands the course offerings. Codeacademy alums work at Google, Facebook, IBM, Bloomberg and many other top companies. Sample Free Courses:multiple programming languages
- TED-Ed is TED’s award-winning youth and education arm whose mission is to share and spread ideas from teachers and students. TED-Ed has a global network of more than 250,000 teachers that serves millions of teachers and students around the world every week. TED-Ed includes innovative content such as original animated videos and a platform for teachers to create interactive lessons. Sample Free Courses: The Mysterious Science of Pain, How Do Self-Driving Cars See, What Causes Turbulence
- Khan Academy is a non-profit whose mission is “to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” Khan Academy offers lessons for students from kindergarten through early college, with topics such as math, grammar, science, history, AP® exams, SAT® and more. Sample Free Courses: Algebra, Geometry, Statistics & Probability
Muse writer Kat Moon (41 Classes You Can Take Right Now to Advance Your Career (and They’re Free!)) has compiled an extensive list of free online classes that can be completed in less than 10 weeks (with some that can be completed in an hour). Moon has organized the class listings into subject areas, including programming, design, online marketing, communication, entrepreneurship, writing and languages. Among the free classes available are:
- Beginners Adobe Photoshop, from Adobe KnowHow, will teach you the fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop with easy-to-follow, practical examples. You’ll learn how to set up your work environment and perform the various editing functions. Level: Beginner
- Internet Marketing for Smart People, from Copyblogger, presents a systematic and simple approach to implementing effective online marketing. You’ll get instant access to 14 ebooks on content marketing, copywriting, keyword research and much more. Level: Intermediate
- Introduction to Public Speaking, from edX, will help you become a more effective and confident public speaker. You’ll learn to design and deliver basic arguments, informative presentations, and persuasive, complex arguments within 10 weeks. Level: All Levels
- Writing for the Web, from OPEN2STUDY. Understanding the difference between writing for print and writing for the web starts with learning how readers behave differently online. This course teaches you how to accommodate the needs of online readers through web design, writing style, structure and search engine optimization. Level: All Levels
- Spanish I, from MIT OpenCourseWare. By watching these video episodes, you’ll learn Spanish (and experience its cultural diversity) through a quality drama-filled story. In addition, you’ll listen to an audio program integrated with the text and workbook. Level: Beginner
Whether you choose to supplement your existing education or learn a new skill, now might be the best time to take advantage of the many online educational opportunities. These online education courses can help you gain valuable knowledge, develop practical skills to boost your career, earn a certificate, complete a degree or simply expand your horizon. Focusing on learning and skill building may also help boost your spirits and motivation during these challenging times.