Got some extra time on your hands right now? You're not alone. It's a great opportunity to pick up some new creative skills, but it can be a frustrating business learning things piecemeal from random tutorials and YouTube videos.
What's preferable is a well-organised and academically rigorous course. But what if you have no money to pay for one? Well, the good news is that an increasing number of providers are making most, or all, of their courses available for free. In this post, we highlight 10 of the best places to find free online training today, in a wide range of subjects.
FutureLearn (opens in new tab) is a UK-based digital education platform that’s jointly owned by The Open University and SEEK Ltd, which has over 140 international partners. Most of its short courses are free, although you’ll have to pay for extras such as receiving a certificate. It offers a number of arts and design related courses, such as An (opens in new tab)Introduction to Coding and Design (opens in new tab) and Introduction to Content Design (opens in new tab), but they aren't grouped into one category, so you'll need to use the site's search tool to find what you're looking for.
Coursera (opens in new tab) is a world-wide online learning platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. It partners with universities around the world, as well as companies like Google and IBM, to provide around 1,000 courses for free, and since Covid-19 that has been extended to the whole of its 3,800 courses. Its design courses (opens in new tab) range from beginner level, such as Fundamentals of Design with CalArts, to advanced fare like 3D Model Creation with Autodesk Fusion 360. There are some great art courses too, particularly the recent additions from New York’s Museum of Modern Art (opens in new tab).
Another large-scale provider of online courses, mostly for free, EDX (opens in new tab) is a non-profit organisation launched by MIT and Harvard University. It offers a large range of computer science (opens in new tab) courses, mostly focused on specific languages such as HTML5 and CSS (opens in new tab), as well as a small number of art-related courses (opens in new tab), such as Inspiring and Motivating Arts and Culture Teams.
Based in Ireland, Alison (opens in new tab) is an online education platform mainly focused on workplace skills. It has 14 million registered learners, two million graduates and 1,500 courses available for free. Its creative courses range from short courses in print production and colour theory to a diploma in web design, but again, these don't fall into a single category so you'll need to use the search tool.
05. Google: Digital Marketing
Want to master the basics of digital marketing? Google is offering a 40-hour, free course (opens in new tab) that's accredited by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. There are 26 modules to explore, all created by Google trainers, and each is packed full of practical exercises and real-world examples to help you turn knowledge into action.
06. Google: Analytics Academy
Another free course provided by Google, Analytics Academy (opens in new tab) helps you learn about Google's own measurement tools so that you can grow your website’s traffic and performance through intelligent data collection and analysis. There are a number of courses on offer, all with self-explanatory titles, from Google Analytics for Beginners to Advanced Google Analytics.
07. Michael Flarup: Icon Design
Danish designer and speaker Michael Flarup is one of the world’s leading voices in the art of icon design. So his course Designing App Icons (opens in new tab), which is spread across 14 video lessons, is well worth taking... not least because in response to the lockdown, he’s generously slashed the price from $49 to completely free! Aimed at anyone interested in becoming a better designer, the course covers deliveries, process and tools involved in app icon design using Photoshop, and how to find your personal visual style.
08. Free Code Camp
09. Open University
Specialised in distance learning, the Open University offers a number of free courses online via its Open Learn platform. There are nearly 1,000 to choose from, and design-related courses include Design Thinking, Designing the User interface, and an Introduction to Interaction Design. You can find the full catalogue of free courses here (opens in new tab).
10. Ivy League
The Ivy League group of universities in the United States, including Harvard, Princeton and Yale, are one of the most exclusive, and expensive, educational institutions in the world, so you might be surprised to find them at on a list of free resources. But it’s true: these esteemed palaces of learning have made over 400 of their courses free, for anyone to study online, and many of them cover creative topics, from art and design to programming. These courses are all spread across different platforms, but Class Central founder Dhawal Shah has compiled a handy guide to what they are and how to access them (opens in new tab).