I definitely don’t believe you need to go out and get an expensive degree from a fancy school in order to learn – so much learning happens just be living, and interacting with others on a daily basis. Or reading an engaging book, or watching a documentary. But sometimes having a structured class format can really help the educational process, and there are a few websites I take courses from fairly often that I thought I would share. A lot of these also happen to offer useful topics that would be of interest to homesteaders.
Future Learn – This is my favorite online “school”. There is a broad variety of topics available, and in most cases these are taught by actual university professors at bricks and mortar schools. You can view topics by category a la carte, or in collections, with a selection of similar classes grouped together in a bundle. Right now there’s a collection for Understanding Climate Change which includes a class for Water for Resilient & Livable Cities. There are also classes on Elements of Renewable Energy, Tackling the Global Food Crisis: Sustainable Agrifood Systems, Soils: Introducing the World Beneath Our Feet, Sustainability, Society & You, and Nutrition & Wellbeing.
Canvas Network – another great class provider. It’s a little annoying to browse for classes here, because they’re not organized by topic, but you can search by key word. I’m usually just scrolling down on the main page to see what’s new though. Some of the current classes of note are CPR, AED & First Aid, Common Sense Economics for Life, and Mini Medical School.
Coursera – this site is huge and has a pretty good variety. The catalog is broad, but there’s something for everyone. Some classes currently running that are notable are – Chicken Behavior & Welfare, Stanford Introduction to Food & Health, Fundamentals of Human Nutrition, Introduction to Sustainabilty, and Introduction to Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage.
Craftsy – this is the premier site for online arts and crafts learning. Most of the courses here are paid, but they do offer a nice selection of free mini classes. The selection rotates fairly often, so you’ll want to check back every once in awhile. Current interesting selections are Transform Your Garden Design, Creative Ways with Whole Grains, Complete Knife Skills, Sew Ready: Machine Basics, and Bag Making Basics: Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch.
Duolingo – this is a fun site for learning new languages. Lessons are in bite-sized pieces so you can do as little as ten minutes per day, and it’s teaching through immersion – my first task in learning Norwegian was to dive right in translating a simple sentence. Pretty much every major language is available – French, Spanish, German, Norwegian, Italian – so you can really expand your horizons.
So – do not let lack of funds for “proper” college prevent you from learning, interacting with other students or picking up useful skills or interesting information. With the above resources, you’ve got no excuse!