If you’ve always wanted to go back to school, why not put your ongoing involuntary stay-at-home downtime to good use with a free online class? There are literally thousands of virtual university courses (known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs) and one-off videos to help you exercise your brain and fight back the boredom—without spending a penny.
Here are a few sites where you can find free classes.
Coursera has almost 4,000 courses from major universities covering nearly every subject. You can use your quarantine time to learn a language, study particle physics, or explore chicken behaviour (seriously). Many classes can be completed at your own pace and range in time commitment from a few hours to weeks or months of learning.
A few options include Stanford’s 56-hour Machine Learning course, a 10-hour class on dog emotion and cognition from Duke, and Yale’s popular 20-hour Science of Well-Being course.
Much of Coursera’s content is free—though you can also upgrade to a paid plan to receive official course completion certificates or even enroll in online degree programs.
Like Coursera, edX offers classes from major universities across all subjects for free. Many of the courses are self-paced. Take an 8-week contract law course from a Harvard professor, join a quantum mechanics class at Georgetown or study the ethics of eating through Cornell.
Kadenze focuses on creative fields with around 250 courses that combine art, design and technology. Here are a few of the options available:
Programming Max: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts
Music Theory for Beginners
Creative Audio Programming on Raspberry Pi
A free account gets you access to most Kadenze courses as well as discussion forums and a portfolio builder.
DataCamp offers beginner-friendly coding classes and challenges in R, Python and SQL. Unfortunately, a free account limits your access to the first chapter of each course. However, you can at least get a sense of what you’re in for before signing up for a paid subscription.
Like DataCamp, CodeAcademy offers free access to its basic courses covering different coding languages—but it has more options, including HTML, C++ and Ruby. You’ll have to upgrade to a paid account to access more in-depth training.
If you want to brush up on high school subjects like grammar, geometry and biology, check out Khan Academy’s free courses. You’ll find everything from test prep (maybe now is the time to finally study for the LSAT?) to grade-specific maths and reading you can work on with your kids to Advanced Placement chemistry and art history. Or try Khan’s personal finance and career development courses to keep you grounded during this time of economic uncertainty.
You can watch all Khan Academy content for free without signing up for an account.
Whether you want to learn to play the guitar, build a robot, or discover tips for growing a garden, you can find a video for pretty much anything on YouTube. There are tons of skills-based videos and channels; the CrashCourse and TED-Ed channels are good places to look for educational content.
Finally, if you’re not sure where to start or even what you want to learn about, browse Class Central, which aggregates courses from several of the platforms listed here. You can search by subject or school to see the options available across Coursera, edX, Udacity, and more.