12 free online course sites for growing your tech skills
Education doesn’t have to be expensive — there are plenty of free courses to brush up on your IT skills that require nothing more than an internet connection and a laptop or smartphone. The following twelve online education providers offer free programs and courses on nearly any technical domain. It’s a great way to dip your toe into a new topic with limited commitment, or to stay on top of developing trends and technologies in your industry.
Whether you’re interested in changing the direction of your career, just starting out, trying to beef up your resume or just looking to stay on top of technology trends, any of these twelve online education providers can help you without breaking the bank.
12 free online education sites for tech skills
- Dash General Assembly
- Harvard Online Learning
- Khan Academy
- MIT OpenCourseWare
Alison.com offers a wide range of free IT courses in networking and security, hardware, software development, game development, software tools, IT management, mobile apps, software engineering, data science, databases and core IT skills. You can choose from short certificate courses or opt for “diploma” courses, which are more comprehensive. While courses are free to participate in, if you complete a certificate or diploma course, you’ll need to pay a fee to get a printed or digital certificate. You also can opt to pay for a premium account for around $9 per month, which will give you access to more features such as discounts on certificate fees, no advertisements and access to resume building features.
Coursera isn’t entirely free, but they do offer a decent selection of free computer programming courses to choose from. You can take courses on the fundamentals of programming and choose from a long list of programming languages to learn such as Python, C and Java. You can sign up for free and utilize all of Coursera’s free programming, but if you want to take a certificate or degree program, they vary in price.
Dash General Assembly
EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider with university-level courses developed by schools, nonprofit organizations and corporations. These programs are offered for free to users, with courses from universities such as MIT and Harvard. Courses include short videos, interactive learning exercises, tutorial videos, online textbooks and a forum where students can interact with one another, ask questions and reach out to teaching assistants. At the end of your course, you’ll received a certificate — and some courses might count as college or university credits, depending on the school.
Harvard Online Learning
Harvard offers online access to course materials, lectures, programs and other educational content for free. The goal is to offer “effective, accessible avenues for people who desire to learn but who may not have an opportunity to obtain a Harvard education.” Courses are offered through a number of online learning content providers, including EdX, GetSmarter, HarvardX, Harvard Business School (HBX), Harvard Extension School and Harvard Medical School (HMX). There are courses on nearly every IT topic you can imagine so you can get a Harvard education, without the tuition bill.
Khan Academy was developed in 2006 as a non-profit educational organization, with the distinct goal of educating students online for free. Lessons are taught through YouTube videos, with additional exercises online for educations and students. Courses can be accessed on a mobile device and most have been translated into several languages, with nearly 20,000 subtitle translations available. While it might not serve as a formal education, it’s an easy way to learn new skills as you advance your career.
Microsoft offers several learning paths and certifications that cover various Microsoft products and services. Learning paths contain several modules that are relevant to the course topic and certifications are more focused, with one or two exams required to earn the certification. Self-paced courses and exams are free through Microsoft, but if you want to take an instructor-led course you can do so through Microsoft Certified Trainers. However, it’s not guaranteed that the certified trainers will offer courses for free, so that is something to consider if you want entirely free courses.
In 2001, MIT University launched its initiative to publish all undergraduate- and graduate-level course material for free online through MIT OpenCourseWare. It was the first major university to make its coursework available for free to the public — 250 other colleges and universities have since followed in MIT’s footsteps. In 2018, MIT added complete video lectures to more than 100 courses that users can stream or download for offline viewing. If you want to work on a certain skill or try out a new skill before you commit to paying for a course, it’s worth checking out MIT OpenCourseWare to see what they have on your topic-of-interest.
For UI and UX designers or web developers, you may want to look to Skillshare if you’re trying to boost your tech skills. The website offers free courses in UI and UX design as well as web development — and it also offers courses in business analytics, which may be useful for those working with data. Skillshare offers virtual classes that include video lessons, project overviews, templates to work with and other resources for users. You can also choose from a $15 per month subscription or you can pay $99 for the year, dropping the monthly cost to $8. The premium subscription offers more features such as teacher support, no advertisements, offline access to download class materials and unlimited access to all available courses.
Udacity offers courses and nanodegree certifications in programming and development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, business, data science and autonomous systems. While the certifications aren’t free, a lot of the courses included in Udacity’s nanodegree programs are offered at no cost. You can choose from a long list of free courses in programming and computer science from universities and companies such as Stanford, Amazon and Google. If you decide to complete a nanodegree certification you will need to pay a monthly fee of $400; nanodegrees typically take users six to 12 months to complete.
Udemy is targeted at professional adults who need to fit education into their busy work schedules. Some courses on Udemy are free, while some are available at a fee — it will depend on the course and instructor. However, even paid courses won’t break the bank, as most go on sale for as low as $9.99, so you can typically find a good deal if there’s a course you want to take that isn’t free.
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