8 skills you can learn online for free
The internet has revolutionised so many aspects of our lives. A new language, coding, designing, art, cooking — things you would normally expect to pay for – are all available online for free.
To get started with the basics of photography, you should visit photographycourse.net. This is a site without any distracting ads and with content neatly laid out by skill level.
At photo.net/learn, you’ll find a handy collection of (regularly updated) articles and tutorials from photo professionals. And when you need to brush up on your photography jargon, the ever-popular DP Review has a comprehensive listing at www. dpreview.com/glossary.
On the app side, Photography Tutorials (by Anton Gregory) is a great free app for Android devices. This app curates and organizes a large list of photography tutorials from around the web — practically any beginner or advanced technique that you need to know about is here.
You get access to various tutorial videos for learning, which are constantly updated with new updates. As you move ahead in the course, you have to take a regular quiz and complete interactive challenges.
A new language
Depending on what you currently speak, some languages are easier to learn than others. For instance, if you know English well, it’ll be easier for you to pick up Spanish rather than Russian.
The courses hosted on http://www.openculture.com are a pretty good place to start. Duolingo is another great place to learn Spanish, English, French, German, Portugese or Italian. Duolingo ‘gamifies’ the process with rewards. They also have free apps for iOS and Android.
Other popular services include Live Mocha and Lang-8. While you learn, you also act as an editor for someone learning your native language — this keeps everything free.
Cooking is a fine art — any seasoned chef or homemaker will tell you that cooking is not just about combining ingredients — it’s also about applying hundreds of little tricks and techniques that usually take years to master.
Luckily, you can find a lot of tips on basic cooking techniques at simplyrecipes.com (they also offer free apps). Over at reluctantgourmet.com, the ‘How to cook’ tab will help you brush up on roasting, poaching, grilling, frying, braising, baking and everything in between.
A handy cooking converter at the bottom of every page can help you convert quantities: tablespoons to teaspoons, litres to pints and so on. For apps, two of our favourites are All Recipes and Epicurious (free, for all platforms). They’re easy to use, attractive and customised for each platform.
It’s possible to learn art at any stage as long as you have the motivation. To learn the basics (colours, drawing techniques, perspective and so on), head to artyfactory.com.
Meanwhile, at thevirtualinstructor.com you can find a list of art lessons, tutorials, articles and videos curated from around the web. When you want to do more, head to instructables.com — where you can learn how to do stuff as diverse as watermelon carving, making jewellery, puppets, and costumes.
You’re also welcome to share your ideas with the community. On the apps side, How to Draw by ArtelPlus (for iOS and Android) is a good place to start. There’s also a huge range of apps available in the ‘How to Draw’ series — each app teaches something specific.
You won’t be able to learn advanced self defence techniques or master a competition, but you can easily pick up and practice basic martial arts and self defence with some online help.
Lifehacker has a great, one-page guide to basic self defence that can get you out of a sticky situation. This includes tips on vulnerable parts of the body, how to attack, leveraging your weight, basic kicks/punches and how to administer/get out of basic holds. You can find the guide here — goo.gl/gsFUBn. For apps, you can try the Self Defense Trainer by Bizapp Media.
Unlike most others on this page, dancing needs you to ‘do’ more than read or look up. That’s why tutorial videos on various dance forms on YouTube are the first place you should look.
Next, head to dancetothis.com and you can start learning different dance moves and styles (hip hop, pop, street, break dance, krumping, ballroom and so on). Beyond that, practice is what you need.
Free courses from top universities
Prominent names like MIT ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Harvard, Berkeley, University of Texas and University of Toronto offer free online courses that anyone can access.
You can either visit the individual websites of these institutions or head to edx.org. Edx accumulates all free courses offered by institutions across the world across subjects.
Choose a subject of your choice, select the institution you want to learn from and join a course. There is no prerequisite knowledge required for most courses and you get access to various videos, transcripts and notes. You can even earn yourself a certificate of course completion from Edx if you do all the homework and pass the exam for a particular course.