I was born into the age of the internet, and yet it still overwhelms me. Perhaps that is because for the majority of my childhood I was stuck in the 19th century following Laura Ingalls Wilder across the great plains and reading biographies of all my favorite founding fathers. What would Benjamin Franklin think if he heard that you can type any question into google (ANY QUESTION ABOUT ANYTHING) and get instant answers? Thomas Jefferson would have fainted!
I’ve always thought about the internet in terms of the founding fathers. Now that I think about it, it is a bit weird. ANYWAYS…
The fact is that the internet is more than just a dangerous time waster. It can be an incredible tool. Many of the best universities are posting lectures, even whole classes, online for free. Yeah, you got that right. You can learn from Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford professors completely free of charge and on your own schedule.
To prove my point about the power of the internet, here are 10 amazing skills you can learn for free on the internet.
1. Critical Thinking
Sometimes I worry that my brain begins to rot as soon as the last bell of school rings for summer break. Have no fear – with this free online course you can spend the summer challenging yourself and learning how to think critically and win arguments. The thing I like about MOOC courses (massive open online course) is that you are doing it with thousands of other people around the world. I took a course in Global History from Princeton University a few months ago and it turned out to be an amazing experience. I learned so much and made great friends (from all around the word… did I mention?).
I think self-defense is something EVERY PERSON, particularly women, should take the time to study. Not to be paranoid or anything, but assaults are a lot more common than many of us would like the admit. And you know what? The best way to survive an assault is to avoid it in the first place. Just a few basic rules and principles to live by can make a huge difference. I took this course and feel I gained a lot from it.
Coding is the way of the future. Seriously, some people think we should teach coding next to penmanship in schools. I am not a techy person or a programmer, but in this day and age it is impossible to avoid using computers. Knowing a bit about the back end of things can be incredibly helpful in many fields of work. Now there is no excuses not to learn with the BEAUTIFUL CodeAcademy website ready to teach you all you need to know for absolutely no cost.
4. A Foreign Language
Being monolingual in a globalized world is just not okay. I use DuoLingo to supplement my Italian learning. It is easy, fun, and competitive (a little competition makes everything better). If learning Spanish or French is just too cliche for you, consider this free course to learn Elvish instead.
Need to impress naughty boys you are babysitting? Or perhaps you have a few hours to spare with nothing to do? Maybe you want to earn a few extra bucks entertaining at birthday parties? You never know when learning how to juggle may come in handy, or even save your life (it is possible).
6. Speed Reading
SO MANY BOOKS TO READ! SO LITTLE TIME. Speed reading is something I’ve always been interested in. Hopefully I’ll be able to dive right into this summer with spreeder, a free website for learning to read quicker.
7. Writing Skills
I know a lot of my blogger friends are writers too. As writers, we are always looking for resources to help develop our craft. Here are some free online ones that I found:
Like juggling, you just never know when knitting could save your life. I don’t quite know how it could save your life, but I’m pretty sure that is a plausible statement.
I take pride in the fact that I’m part of the 99.9% of teenage girls who doesn’t consider herself to be a decent photographer. However, my lack of photography skills were quite a bugaboo during my first trip to the UK. I may break down and learn how to take a decent photo this summer.
10. ANYTHING ELSE
You can learn anything on the internet. From statistics and public speaking to sign language and space weather, there are a whole lot of skills I’ve learned from the internet. The summer of 11th grade, I taught myself basic physics and astronomy without buying a single book or taking a single official course. I just read books from the library and poured over this website. As a homeschooler, I based a whole lot of my schooling off of free resources that I found online. Here are a few of my favorite gem websites that I’ve found along the way:
Khan Academy – best for math
Hippocampus – best for science and social sciences
Education Portal – best for history and english
Crash Course – best for history
College Level Courses:
Universal Class – not free to everyone, but check if your local library system allows free access. Mine does, and it is an incredible resource.
Have fun and happy learning!
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”