1. TED Talks
THE TED Talks mission statement ticks all the boxes here at AGENT HQ. It’s “a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less)”. There are no fees, and all you have to do is free up a quarter of an hour. In the worst case, schedule it for bedtime reading/viewing. You’ll learn something new, or have something that you thought you knew already turned on its head.
PRODIGIOUS writer Maria Popova’s free Brain Pickings site is a labour of love fueled by hundreds of hours of research. Popova has written for Wired, The Atlantic, The New York Times and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. Brain Pickings is a reservoir of learning, covering literature, science, art, history and general knowledge. It’s impossible not to learn something new, even from a cursory glance.
ONE of the most popular online video learning services, Lynda has over 3,000 courses viewable on your computer or mobile device. There is a free trial, and a fee scale offering access to thousands of hours of video tutorials on Business skills and other skillsets, taught by recognised industry experts.
VIEWED as a Pinterest for education, Learnist crowd-sources knowledge on particular subjects, allowing users to collect online resources and create ‘Learnboards’ about particular subjects. The site has intuitive functionality and is a fantastic ‘fit’ for the mobile learner.
WITH data skills becoming increasingly sought after, DataCamp is where you can work with experts to learn data manipulation, data visualization, programming languages and more. The site contains free introductory instruction in the R programming language, and the full range of DataCamp courses is available for a monthly or annual fee.
ADVANCED Learning Interactive Systems ON-line, or ALISON, uses a mix of advertising and sponsored programs from partners and publishers to enable students—the company claims to have a million registered learners across almost 200 countries—take courses free of charge. It’s another great doorway into learning across categories such as business, IT, languages, health, finance and personal development.
PCMag.com lauds edX as “the wunderkind of academics” for courses “supplied by some of the world’s most prestigious institutions” and a several million-strong “learning community” of students. EdX prides itself on being the only leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider that is nonprofit and open source. It has more than 90 global partners, including leading universities, nonprofits, and institutions, and students. There are hundreds of courses, and the catalogue is growing as edX pursues its mission to increase access to high quality education for everyone, everywhere.
A ONE-stop shop for experienced investors or newcomers, the tutorials section of Investopedia alone is a comprehensive Guide to the world of finance, organised alphabetically and by category. The video section is also impressive, while investment newcomers will love the free Stock Simulator, where you get to put your trading skills to the test using US$100,000 in virtual cash.
9. Project Gutenberg
THE world’s oldest digital library, founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg is a voluntary effort to digitize and archive public domain books, and make them freely available in open formats for almost any computer or device. The website offers over 50,000 free e-books for download or online reading, as well as listings, articles and information on how people can get involved in this ongoing project.
DEFINITELY not for dummies, says the homepage of Guides, an “interactive, up-to-date, and extremely useful” collection of free and paid-for How-To guides. With guides for life, guides for work, and guides for small business, you can’t go wrong here. The site is attractive and informative and the guides well designed and accessible.
IF YOU have one of those questions that you just can’t get the answer to, why not refer it to Quora? An aggregation of questions and answers on various topics, Quora can be used for an unfiltered immersion in a mind-bending diversity of subject matter; or a personalised ‘feed’ based on the people and topics you’re most interested in. You can also collaborate by ‘upvoting’ favourite answers, and suggesting edits to other users’ answers.
JOIN a community of a million students on Skillshare and access short, bite-sized lessons of under an hour. Free membership enables you to enroll for free classes, post class projects and discussions, while the reasonable rates for paid content offers full access to almost 3,000 courses, on- or off-line.
LEARN a language for free: that’s the promise offered by DuoLingo, and they say they can prove it works. Lessons are underpinned by gamification—each lesson offers a variety of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges. It’s an ‘anytime, anywhere’ proposition, great for break-times and commutes, and is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone also.
14. Brain Pump
YOU can get something new every day, in short bursts, with the videos on Brain Pump, which are organised into topics including science, technology, maths, nature, business, game design, and many more. If you’re not interested in the video ‘fed’ to you, click to the next one. Sign-up enables you to ‘star’ videos for viewing later.
15. Mental Floss
ANOTHER engaging resource of interesting trivia, factoids, short articles, videos, listicles, quizzes, the trouble with Mental Floss is knowing when to quit! Even something like the Amazing Fact Generator, which provides a brief random fact at the click of a button, is brilliant for getting the creative juices flowing when inspiration is flagging. The first twp AGENT saw today were: 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321, followed by the revelation that after Bill Clinton won the US President in 1993, his third telephone—after the official congrats from his opponent George Bush and running mate Dan Quayle—was from actress and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg.
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