Travel & Leisure

Continuing Education: The Top Websites for E-Learning

Whether you want to learn a new language or learn more about the history of China, there are plenty of courses online just waiting for you

By Katrina Caruso


Retirement can be the perfect time to spend some time learning something new—particularly if there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn before. You can even complete or begin a university degree. And the good news is that you don’t even need to leave your home to do it: a host of websites offer courses online, many of them free. Here are our top picks:

Coursera is partnered with universities and other learning organizations worldwide to offer a wide range of topics. Signing up is free, and you can search the course database before you make an account. Some of the courses are free, while others charge tuition; for example, you can apply to do a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree online at the University of Illinois.

edX offers free courses in engineering, the humanities, languages, and more. You can also pay to receive a certificate upon completion of the course. The company is partnered with universities from around the world, including McGill, Berkeley, Dartmouth, and Seoul National University. All courses can be done at your own pace.

iTunesU Free Courses
If you have an Apple device (iPad, iPhone…), you may really enjoy learning through iTunesU, which can be accessed through the iTunes store. Some content is behind a paywall, but most of the learning materials aren’t, and they’re usually in the form of podcasts and videos.

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is ideal if you want to learn through reading. In partnership with many post-secondary schools, Khan Academy brings together free course materials from around the onliine world. Learn about art history, Hinduism, biology, financial markets, and much more. You don’t have to sign up to access the courses online or to get a feel of the interface, which is user-friendly and easy on the eyes.

Open Culture
Open Culture is a great website that may add much more than just courses to your life—along with more than 1,000 free lectures from universities worldwide, the site also offers a list of free movies, audio books, textbooks, and e-books, as well as resources for learning languages. It’s a great place to get started and to figure out what you want to learn about.

 Online University Lectures
The folllowing universities offer their own online options, which vary in course offerings and sometimes in terms of depth. Some of their courses can be found on Coursera or edX, but you may also like accessing their online portals. In these cases, many of the course options are filmed lectures from the school’s campus, which is nice if you prefer watching and listening to reading.

1.     Carnegie Mellon

2.     Harvard

3.     MIT

4.     Stanford

5.     UC Berkeley

6.     Yale Courses

The University of British Columbia, the University of Oxford, and many other institutions offer podcasts of public lectures or lectures by visiting professors. Download a podcast to your phone and you can continue to learn as you enjoy your daily walk!

Photo: iStock/GlobalStock.