10 Free Resources for Informal Learning

As one who embraces learning at all levels, I thought I’d use this opportunity to share a brief list of valuable informal learning resources with you. It’s not practical to attend a formal school even part-time for one’s whole life, and we need to supplement other formal learning (such as Learning Tree and company courses) with less formal avenues of learning.

Informal Learning

Psychology Today calls our age of democratized content “The Golden Age of Teaching Yourself Anything.”

This list focuses mostly on informal, no-cost options. Some are focused on younger learners, but those of use “more seasoned” professionals can often benefit from starting at a basic level in topics with which we are unfamiliar.

I’d appreciate it if you’d add your favorites in the comments.

10 Free Resources

  1. Youtube. YouTube is first on many informal learning lists. It has great content, but it also has some of dubious value. It is important when using YouTube or any other resource – online or printed, to verify the content. That can be easy or hard. Some companies are working on curating informal learning and I see that as a growing field. For now, many of us will have to test content ourselves.
  2. Khan Academy. If you think of Khan Academy solely as a resource for schoolchildren, think again. I often refer participants in Learning Tree’s System and Network Security Introduction and other classes I teach to their discussions of how encryption and other technology work. The teaching style in their videos use strong appeals that can benefit many learners. I subscribe to the Academy and have contributed financially to them.
  3. MIT has OpenCourseWare and Yale University has OpenYale. These universities offer high-quality courses at no cost over the web. Other universities do this, too. Some of these programs can contribute to degrees, often through “credit by examination” where a person’s knowledge is verified by taking one or more examinations.
  4. Carnegie-Mellon has the Open Learning Initiative. This program offers “online courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach”. The “or teach” makes the program different from other universities.
  5. TED Talks. TED’s “Ideas worth spreading” generally are. I find them especially valuable for their insights.
  6. RSA-Animate. RSA-animate is a service of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, an organization over 150 years old. The content varies from social issues to technology to the science of learning.
  7. CurateLive. CurativeLive offers “Curated courses by the World’s Top Experts”. I have taken free courses from them and thoroughly enjoyed them.
  8. Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is famous for its free ebooks. Most are also free from copyright (but check first).
  9. LinkedIn Slideshare. LinkedIn Slideshare is a wonderful learning source using the familiar slide-based approach.
  10. Your local library. Yep, and they have more than books. I am a member of two libraries and both have ebooks I can send to my Kindle for reading.

Another, longer list of resources for autodidacts (self-learners) can be found at https://www.diygenius.com/100-self-education-resources-for-lifelong-learners/

I hope this provides some new sources to get you started on your journey of informal learning.

To your learning,
John McDermott

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