My favorite place for free (or cheap) classes and education
Technology is moving at a rate that no one can physically keep up with. Even to keep up within your own field can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a lot of educational resources at hand. Thankfully we have the Internet and Google, but it will only take you so far. So, I’ve put together my favorite list of places to go for free or super affordable education and professional development. If I know I have a couple of weeks, or even months of downtime, I’ll sign up for a course, download workshop/course materials, or take a class while I’m traveling.
Coursera is super cool. They offer free online courses from online universities across the country and offer courses in over 1000 courses in literally hundreds of subjects. Once you sign up, they’ll send you notices for upcoming classes that might be of interest to you.
I happened to be in NY visiting family and decided to check out these cool kids. For $25 bucks I was able to take a 3 hour Introduction to Systems Thinking workshop. The space is amazing and I left feeling inspired, accomplished, and excited about my own work and what I had learned. Plus it was fun! Not only that, I met a ton of people who were interesting and offered fresh new perspectives to my thinking and work. I suggest you check them out now.
If you’re up for an adventure to the beautiful Maine coast, try out Maine Media Workshops. These workshops span anywhere from 1 day to 4 weeks. They also offer certifications and degrees ranging from 9 months to 3 years. If you can carve away the time, it’s worth it. All instructors are industry professionals. Workshops are offered in photography, filmmaking and video, book making, and many other visual arts. They also do international travel workshops. I worked as a TA at Maine Media last month for a Writing & Developing the Documentary - and it was AWESOME! This is going to cost you a little chunk of cash. BUUUUT, it's worth it if you don't have time or desire to go back to school, and you'll definitely get your money's worth. They also offer workshops.
Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions come with access to the Adobe Education Exchange, which is worth the subscription cost alone. From very basic software introduction to advanced software use and design, there is something for all levels of experience. Many classes are also targeted towards teaching - which is great if you’re an educator. It’s also great if you’re not, because of the unique and unexpected approach. Class meetings are weekly, and most include guest speakers from the field. Because of the fact that all students are Adobe users, the classes attract a ton of interesting people and I’ve been able to network with people I otherwise wouldn’t have met.
Heading abroad? Try learning a new language with Duolingo. Duolingo is free, and super mobile (they have an app). I absolutely love it. It also has a social network component to it so that you can follow other language learners and interact. It also has options to change what language you’re learning in. So once you master French, you can learn Spanish in French!
Busuu has a free plan and a premium plan for those who want to be trilingual, quad-lingual and so on. I personally prefer Duolingo, but Busso offers some languages not offered on Duolingo, such as Japanese. When used together, they can be very complimentary to your language learning.
Edx is similar to Coursera. From Harvard, to MIT, to Berkeley, Edx offers lectures from a huge variety of topics offered and a huge number of learners and options. The cool part is that they provide links to tons of lectures. It’s perfect for research, or when you just have an hour to kill. Completed courses earn you professional development certificates.
Academic Earth offers free online courses, lectures and videos from universities such as Yale, MIT, Stanford just to name a few! Best part? It's free.
So what are you waiting for? Get on it - go get smart!