We don’t have a lot of spare time in this hectic world we live in. This is why we must make sure that the small moments that we do have, will be used wisely. Instead of going through the latest celebrity gossip on your smartphone while waiting for the subway, you can allow your smartphone to actually make you smarter, and learn something new. Instead of watching a random TV show when your kids are finally asleep, you can log into an educational site and learn a new skill. The Internet has everything you will ever need to better yourselves in any aspect of life. On this blog post you will find 10 great examples of sites and services that will sharpen your mind, hone your skills, and make you feel that you’re spending your spare time to learn new things and better yourselves.
“Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.” Buzan, Tony
EdX started as an ambitious MIT and Harvard web project with a goal to educate a billion people around the world. Sounds crazy? Think again! Since they launched, 25 major universities from all over the globe joined their effort. The site provides anyone with an Internet connection access to high quality education, regardless of their financial situation. The courses can be accessed 24/7 and cover everything from law to engineering courses. You actually get graded for your EdX assignments so you know how you’re progressing in the lesson. Taking a course that is being taught by the best in the field has never been easier, and higher education is no longer a privilege of the rich.
TED-Ed is both a great tool for educators to create engaging lessons and a brilliant library of educational materiel for anyone who wants to learn something new. The site allows you to use engaging videos on TED-Ed to create customized lessons. You can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube. By freely disseminating these mind-blowing ideas, TED-Ed hopes to spark the quest for exploration in all of us. TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. This service allows anyone to become an educator; you can “flip” a video, decide which of the materials you keep, and then add your originals to create a whole different lesson. Whether you want to learn or teach, TED-Ed is definitely a site you should visit.
All educators agree that the key to any productive learning is being organized, and learning online can be very challenging in that aspect. Because of the web’s infinite nature, you often find yourself being distracted by links that throw you from one lesson or subject to another, and you never really complete any of them. Wibki offers the perfect solution; it’s a visualized bookmarking tool that allows you to seamlessly save all your favorite links as you browse and organize them in relevant tabs. The links that you save are displayed by logos, so instead of going through endless bookmark lists you can instantly and intuitively click on the logo and resume your study. The service is cloud based, so you can use it on any device, wherever you are. Go on then, join Wibki, create a “things I’d like to learn” tab, and start collecting interesting courses and lessons for the next time you have 10 minutes… and want to spend them wisely.
Boundless offers a learning Technology that is based on active recall and spaced repetition. The service prompts you with quizzes, flashcards, summarization and more at the optimal points during your reading to help you retain information. Boundless gives a new study option; online, interactive text books at a fraction of the cost, instead of buying a new text book every other day, and then hardly opening them. If they don’t have the digital copy of your exact textbook, Boundless will match you with a comparable online text that fits your needs. You can access your Boundless textbook instantly from any device so you can even study on the go. Long story short: Boundless offers one of the most requested services for students, and does it really well. Before you go on another wallet emptying textbooks shopping, make sure to check Boundless out.
Study Blue is a free online community dedicated to the basic building block of learning–memorization. This service allows you to create and customize your own flashcards complete with text, images, and audio. You can also search a rich content library of flashcards and find learning materials that other users have created and get recommended and relevant content by subjects you’re interested in. It offers different study modes: quizzing, review sheets, flashcards – so it’s up for you to decide on your preferred learning method. You can track how you’re doing in real time with an automatic self-assessment score. If all that isn’t enough, Study Blue also offers a place for you to store and organize your notes, syllabus, practice tests, and flashcards.
The Amazings are here to keep the tradition of experience passed down from one generation to the next. Many of us have learned how to make, mend and master all sorts of life traits from our elders. The people at The Amazings were dismayed to see craft slowly fade away in the face of exploding technological advances, so they created an online ‘classroom’ for all the crafts you wish you knew how to do. This platform has created a community with the warmth and charm of your grandma’s sitting room, where skills are passed on and stories are shared. Each film is the product of an unique collaboration between different generations of crafters. The next time you’re feeling ‘crafty’, visit The Amazings and learn from the elders.
Chesscadamy is your guide to chess regardless of your previous experience level. The site provides free video lessons created by professional chess coach and Life National Master Andrew Ng as well as other FIDE masters, International masters, and Grandmasters. The site’s library is constantly refreshed with new material, so there’s always something for you to learn. Each lesson contains a sequence of interactive exercises and quizzes that help you retain valuable information. In addition, Chesscademy utilizes adaptive algorithms that scale the difficulty of puzzles to match the user’s strength. As the user improves, the puzzles get harder. To make the learning process more fun, you can track your learning progress with points, and completing lessons will earn you awards as you journey through the courses. Explore the depth of this classic battle of wits, and visit Chesscadamy!
With Mindsy, you can learn something new, grow a little wiser, expand your skills and horizons without limitation, everyday for the rest of your life. The site offers over 5,000 courses that will be sure to stimulate your appetite for learning. You can find instructions to just about anything you can think of, all for a reasonable subscription price. Not sure? They offer a free week-long trial for you to explore the possibilities of your personal education. Whether you’re looking for that step-up in your career, a whole new career altogether, a new passion or a hobby; on this platform you are bound to expand your skills, knowledge and mind.
creativeLIVE empowers you to unleash your potential by bringing the world’s greatest experts directly to you, live. The site is featuring workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, and software training. creativeLIVE truly unlocks previously closed doors by making dynamic education accessible to everyone. All classes are free if you watch them broadcast live, otherwise they come at a reasonable price based on course length. The teachers are award winning professionals and experts in their areas. The future of education is interactive, free, and live.
Blinkist boils down entire chapters of non-fiction books into a handful of digestible snippets and tips. This amazing app allows you to get the ‘main ideas’ from massive tomes in just a few minutes. Blinkist encourages you to turn your downtime sitting in the train station, waiting for your coffee, into opportunities to be productive. What you read are called blinks, a blink is a short chapter that contains a key insight from a book. It is readable in less than 2 minutes, so you can read one blink whenever you have a few minutes of time to spare. It is an engaging, pleasant reading experience, optimized for mobile devices, so anyone can enjoy learning new things on the go. Most of the world’s knowledge is hidden in books. All Blinkist does is unveiling it in a beautiful, concise, and eminently usable format.
And now for something completely different: Wishbone is not about your learning and education, it’s about reaching out for those who wants to be educated, but don’t have the means to do so. It allows you to give direct financial support to under-served students in the U.S. Your donations fund a Wishbone student’s summer or extracurricular program. The site functions as a crowd funding platform where you choose and endorse a student who’s story touches you. This blessed project hopes that by bringing students into more intellectually challenging environments, they will spark a life-long passion in the arts or sciences.