How to Upgrade Your Skills for Free While at Home

Wendy Kelly
Aug 13, 2014
How to Upgrade Your Skills for Free While at Home

One of the most exciting things about being alive now is that things are changing at an incredibly fast rate. I just watched a television series from 2006 and kept being mildly shocked every time the character pulled out their cell phone and it flipped open. The iPhone was introduced in 2007. Remember? Back in the old days? When you couldn't use your phone as a flashlight?

It's not just phones that change. It's your job, oftentimes. Or the lack of you knowing you'll have that job in 3 months. Not to stress you out too much, but reasons for upgrading your skills are real. Not only are things changing, nothing is certain.

Learn Anything for Free, Right Now

Lifelong learning can keep you competitive and arm you with marketable skills. It's also fun, and a great way to expand your interests, which keeps your brain healthy and staves off aging. 

And, speaking of change and uncertainty, education is certainly both changing and uncertain right now. Weirdly, at the moment, a traditional degree from a traditional college or university costs more than it ever has, with 4-year public university costs having risen by 4 times what they were 30 years ago.

The MOOC Revolution

Or you could just do that degree for free, at home. As Jonathon Haber did in his experiment, Degree of Freedom. He took 32 MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) in one year, as the equivalent of a BA degree. His thoughts, pros and cons, are detailed on his website, as well as a ton of spin-off projects associated with his experiment.

Online Learning Community as Mentors

If you are not interested in MOOCs, you could do what my husband recently did and research forums and online interest groups and learn from the online community by asking people questions and figuring things out on your own. He's just finished building his own iqyax (Aleutian kayak) from scratch for about $150 simply by finding out from others online how to build one.

Online Learning Sites

I've recently discovered online learning sites with free or nearly free options for quickly upgrading skills or learning something new. From language learning to coding to design and marketing, I've found some excellent resources that I now rely on when I need to learn something new, fast (and free).

  • Codecademy - Learn to code, interactively, for free. This site allows you to go through learning modules to learn the basics of coding languages and more.
  • Udemy (free and paid options) - Courses are taught by users, who earn a percentage of course fees. Courses are then rated and reviewed by participants, giving an idea of what you can expect from each. Prices range from free to hundreds of dollars.
  • (free trial, $25/month) - I have completed 2 courses for free on, so though this is a paid option, I can let you know that they do offer free courses...I have been so impressed by what I have learned, however, that I am close to signing up for a month to see how much I can learn during that time. Great information without a lot of fluff is what I have noticed so far.
  • Memrise - Started by World Memory Champion Ed Cooke, this site is dedicated to help you learn anything. Really. Using memes, or visual memory cues, you can train yourself to memorize just about anything. If you want to know more about memory and the World Memory Championships, you should really check out Joshua Foer and his book, Moonwalking with Einstein.
  • Duolingo - if you want to learn a language, you should really check out Duolingo. By ingeniously using gamification to get you to translate stuff, Duolingo is able to help you learn a language as well as provide translations to clients for a fee. In this way, Duolingo will remain a fee language learning platform, and you'll be able to learn a new language, today.
  • Skillshare ($9.95/month) - Skillshare looks similar to Udemy but offers courses for a monthly fee, or flat $19.95 per course.
  • Khan Academy - Khan Academy began when Sal Khan was asked to tutor his nieces in algebra. He began to throw some homemade videos up on YouTube to help them out, and one thing led to another, and now, well, there are thousands of courses. You can learn math, science, economics and finance, arts and humanities, computing, and test prep. There are also diversions, such as Crypto Challenge, which my son and I completed last summer.

You still need the time and discipline, but lots of money is not necessary anymore if you want to learn something new. It's all out there, waiting for you.

What will you learn today?

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