by Site Administrator at OnlineCollege.org
It can be hard to keep up with the ever-growing list of free educational sites out there, much less distinguish which ones will best meet your needs and help you learn skills you really need without shelling out big bucks. New sites are always being launched and even those that have been on the scene for a while sometimes don’t garner enough attention to make it onto your radar, often getting overshadowed by more high-profile sites. As a result, even those who are in the ed tech loop can miss out on some seriously helpful free learning sites. Here we highlight just a few of these under-the-radar free learning sites, that run the gamut from providing full degree programs to simple job-skill training tools, offering a little something for every kind of learner.
Scitable, created by NatureEducation, is an online collaborative space for science learning. Visitors to the site can browse or search through science articles and ebooks, ask experts science-related questions, build an online classroom, or even share their own content. Materials on the site are focused on the life sciences, but there are also numerous resources that can help learners start or accelerate a career in science.
Similar to PBS, the Ontario-based television station offers many of the same educational resources and opportunities for learning. Even if you can’t tune in live, you can take advantage of dozens of videos on topics like science, nature, business, tech, education, and culture. Connected to TVO is Big Ideas, a site that offers videos that touch on important and engaging topics like mathematics, economics, and even urban design. Other resources include educational tools for parents and kids, civics education on Canadian government, and access to loads of compelling documentaries.
While sites like Coursera and Udacity have been drawing the most attention on the free education front these days, Saylor has largely flown under the radar. Created in 2008, the site offers nearly 250 free courses online, with topics centered on the 10 highest enrollment majors in the U.S. In addition to taking classes, learners can participate in discussion forums (organized by topic), track courses and print transcripts, and may soon even be able to access free textbooks.
This North Carolina-based site is produced by Goodwill Industries and focuses on helping people from all walks of life build skills in technology, literacy, and math that will help them find work. All classes offered by the site are entirely free, and even come complete with mobile apps that make it possible to learn on-the-go. Currently, there are over 750 free lessons that teach everything from how to use Microsoft Office to basic addition and subtraction.
UNIVERSITY OF THE PEOPLE:
The brainchild of educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef, University of the People is a tuition-fee, nonprofit, online academic institution that offers access to undergraduate degree programs in business administration and computer science. It maintains relationships with Yale, NYU, Hewlett-Packard, and the Catalyst Initiative to supply students with opportunities for research, future study, and internships. While the site focuses on helping learners in developing nations, students from nearly 130 different nations have been accepted (tuition is free, but you still have to apply).
ENGINEERING FOR CHANGE:
Engineering for Change isn’t a traditional learning site with videos, courses, and lessons. Instead, it’s a live, interactive webcast that allows participants to learn and interact with others in engineering. It’s also a chance to play an active role in helping to solve humanitarian engineering issues. A new topic is addressed every month, and anyone interested in becoming more involved or learning more about engineering is encouraged to sign up.
THE FACULTY PROJECT:
Through The Faculty Project, learners can get access to professors from prestigious schools like Dartmouth, Vassar, Duke, and Northwestern, to name just a few. There are dozens of courses and lectures to choose from, covering a broad spectrum of topics. Launched just this year, the site is slowly building up a great collection of resources that can help students learn through video, PDF, PowerPoint, discussion boards, and educational articles.
There are a growing number of sites out there that are dedicated to providing users with access to free textbooks. Textbook Revolution is among them, and while it hasn’t received as much attention as some others, it’s still a solid place to look for free educational resources. Currently, the site offers up access to dozens of textbooks, ranging in topic from accounting to chemistry.
Learnthat is an excellent place to explore tutorials that cover business, technology, and finance. Visitors to the site can learn how to improve their skills in Excel, digital marketing, or even management, through hundreds of helpful articles, videos, and photos.
UNIVERSITY OF REDDIT:
Most web-savvy individuals have heard of Reddit, but many may not be familiar with the University of Reddit. The site offers anyone the chance to share their expertise through class lectures and videos with others in the web. Currently, the site is home to educational materials in art, computer science, general studies, language, math, music, philosophy, science, and social studies, which means most things are covered. If they’re not, learners are always welcome to add their own educational content.
MentorMob doesn’t supply any educational content of its own, but is an excellent tool for bringing together resources from other sites, organizing them, and sharing them with others. Users can create their own “playlists” of educational material or browse through existing collections compiled by other users. While it has been featured in a number of major publications, the site doesn’t have the widespread attention that others generate, but that could change as the Pinterest-like functionality helps users to create incredibly useful lists for learning.
Memrise promises to help users learn through a combination of brain science, fun, and community. Much of the content is game-based and highly visual, offering visitors to the site the chance to boost their skills in a variety of languages, or even to learn more about topics like cheese, herbs, and fish.
LearnersTV brings together videos, audio lectures, science animations, lecture notes, online tests, presentations, and publications to offers visitors a wide range of material with which to learn. Those looking for an in-depth experience can find entire courses, while those just doing cursory research can browse through short articles and PowerPoints.
Knowing how to use technology is an essential skill in today’s job market, but with so many new technologies popping up all the time, it can be hard to keep up with them all. That’s where Grovo can help. The online learning site specializes in offering video lessons on top Internet products. Visitors to the site can expand their knowledge of sites like Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and WordPress, or just learn a bit more about netiquette and online marketing.
Alison offers free online courses and certification through 400 different courses in 10 different course categories. Launched in 2007, the site helps people from around the world earn certification in topics like legal studies, psychology, health studies, project management, and human resources. All content is free but to get a copy of your certification, you’ll have to shell out about $20.