Learning & Development

Identifying Free Online Training

The spread of COVID-19 has created a new impetus to learn a new skill or sharpen existing abilities for multiple reasons.


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First, many employees seeing record unemployment numbers and a frightening economic outlook for at least the rest of 2020 and potentially beyond are understandably concerned about their long-term employment. Learning a new skill can be a great way to stand out among a crowd of jobseekers that is likely to grow considerably.

Second, faced with weeks-long quarantines, many people are simply bored and looking for anything to pass the time.

So why not find something productive and self-improving to spend those extra hours on? We’re looking at a couple of options for identifying online trainings; and, given the fact that money is tight for many people at the moment, we’ve focused on the free options.

Social Media

Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to look for free training offered by organizations or individuals looking to share their knowledge. These range from free guitar or yoga lessons to university-quality lectures and courses.


Massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) have been around for years. Companies like Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, and others provide classes taught by industry experts and college professors on anything from philosophy and languages to engineering and graphic design. Many MOOCs offer certification and more in-depth training for a fee but also have a huge amount of content free of charge.

Many world-class universities offer free online courses directly. These are essentially a subset of MOOCs. A great example is Harvard’s HarvardX.

Phone Apps

Even when on the go (to the extent anyone can be on the go during a stay-at-home order), there are options for free, mobile learning. Examples include Duolingo—a free language learning app—and StudyBlue, a crowdsourced learning platform that provides flashcards, notes, study guides, and other materials.

The COVID-19 pandemic understandably has Americans afraid for the future, and mandates to refrain from numerous traditional leisure activities means more time to dwell on the situation.

But the silver lining in all of this is that there is unprecedented free time for millions of people to learn a new skill, and the resources above are just a few examples of how to do so without spending any money.