4 Sites with Free Online Classes and Webinars

online education

A friend mentioned recently how he missed learning, the kind of learning you’d get in a college atmosphere. The main culprit was lack of disposable funds.

If it’s more money than time that’s making going back to school difficult, or you just want to get ahead on your day job or the job you wish you had, here are four online options to increase your knowledge and skills:

1. “Take the world’s best courses, online, for free.” To date, Coursera.org has 554 courses that include the arts, business management, computer science, humanities, law, medicine, and teacher professional development. Want to learn to write like Mozart? Get started on the 6-week course. Concerned about globalization affecting us personally and economically? Register for the 10-week course. I haven’t taken a Coursera course yet but I’ve got this site bookmarked.

2. “Webinars and videos for professionals and their communities.” I’ve attended many free Brighttalk webinars since I discovered them back when I was unemployed. My focus was learning about social media, but Brighttalk’s communities of learning include accounting, healthcare, human resources, and sales. Also, once you’ve signed up for a webinar, it remains in your account so you can watch it again.

3. “Free webinars and online events, both live and on-demand.” Webex.com’s Channels cover topics such as arts & culture, communication & media, education, leadership, personal growth, and science & technology. I’ve used Webex in the past for company-sponsored events, so some of these webinars won’t be free, but it could be worth finding the ones that are.

4. “Share what you know and love through presentations, infographics, documents and more.” Slideshare is a haven for finding out how other people have solved knotty problems or discovered a cool new way to look at their everyday jobs. I’ve used this for social media purposes, but I see categories such as business & management, career, design, and technology.

What free or relatively inexpensive online courses or webinars do you use?

Is the English major disappearing?


“What are you going to do with an English major?”

My favorite English professor had the best answer to this. “What are you going to do with ANY major?” he’d grump, albeit with his famous twinkle in his eye.

He was a man of great discernment and humor. He was also right. Speaking personally, you can do anything you want with an English major. I’ve reinvented my career several times while still using what I learned in college.

Yet in The Decline and Fall of the English Major from NYTimes.com, not doing what you want seems more than a mere possibility.  A new report shows that students are veering away from a major that supposedly won’t pay the bills, and not just because of parental pressure either; the humanities themselves “often do a bad job of explaining why the humanities matter.”

And it’s a shame. Even if you have no intention of being a writer—which is just one aspect the English major can take–learning how to articulate yourself in print, express your thoughts clearly, and comprehend what you read are still abilities surely (or sorely) valuable today. You don’t have to be an English major to learn these skills, either.

How has your major helped with your career or life in general? If you’re still in school, did you pick something other than what you wanted because you were worried about making a living?

Note: I can’t see that NYT’s headline title without thinking of this (versus the obvious).

#Reverb11 Day 16: A Community I Love

Prompt: A Community I Love – Online & in real life, we’re all part of a multitude of communities. Tell us about one that moves you.

A Community I Love

This one was easy. It’s social media as a whole, because it’s brought me all of you.

There’s something about the magic of instant connection that mimics what I loved so much in college–late-night intellectual conversations where you wind up watching the sunrise together, piling into the dorm TV room to watch the Muppet Movie and realizing in shock just what went over your head when you saw it as a kid, laughing without being able to stop at absolutely nothing at all. It’s the togetherness, the shared vibe, the mutual understanding that we crave so much.

With everyone scattered away from that deliciously insular college life, I found Facebook to be an incredible connective tool. Now I can be up late talking to someone just starting their day, or see the window flooded with sunrise just as someone else is headed out for the evening. Time almost doesn’t matter, so while I may miss the real-to-real frisson and vibe, the surrogate is this fantastic, flexible internet.

I know the definition of “friendship” can be highly debated when you’ve never met someone in person and completed the circle, but I believe you can have valuable, trusted relationships nonetheless. There’s something joyous about posting a thought, important or mundane, and having it understood and responded to by someone you may never meet in person but who you know is there for you.

So to the friends I now know better than ever because we have Facebook, friends from the gothy community who virtually tickle me pink every day, my dear online buds Noël, Diahann, Ty, Michelle, Ed, Diana (and I always worry I’ll leave someone off so I am cutting this list off short right now), friends I’ve just met and the friends I have yet to meet–you all make this whole online lifestyle the bountiful magic kingdom it’s supposed to be. And I thank you all for that.

Fabulous reverb11 badge made here.