Top 20 Best Free Online Education Sites
Top 20 Best Free Online Education Sites

There are many online education websites that offer academic courses for a fraction of the cost of traditional colleges and universities, making them ideal for lifelong learners.

Both educational institutions and individual experts who want to offer their courses online need somewhere to host them and get them out to people who want to learn. This is why there are many platforms dedicated to offering online courses. Some focus on tighter niches like green technology. Others include courses in a variety of fields.

Whatever you're interested in learning, you can find a course about it from the educational course sites listed below. From beginner levels to intermediate and advanced, there's something for everybody.

Here are 20 outstanding online websites to access tons of academic courses - for free.

What are the best and free online education sites?

1. Coursera

2. Udemy

3. Udacity

4. edX

5. Khan Academy

6. Skillshare

7. Open Culture Online Courses

8. Alison

9. MIT OpenCourseWare

10. Stanford Online

11. LinkedIn Learning

12. General Assembly

13. Academic Earth

14. Harvard Extension

15. Open Yale Courses

16. Canvas Network

17. Open Learning Initiative

18. iTunes U Free Courses

19. Codeacademy

20. TED-Ed

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Top 20 Best Free Online Education Sites In the World

1. Coursera

Photo: tinhte
Photo: tinhte

If you're looking to take courses from over 200 of the country's top universities and organizations, then Coursera is for you. Coursera has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and others to offer universal access to the world's best education.

Build skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies. Coursera has partnered with over 190 universities and companies, with over 3900 courses and specializations, over 35 million learners. You have a choice whether to choose free courses or get a degree or a professional certificate at reasonable prices and learn at your own pace.

2. Udemy

Photo; sclsnj
Photo; sclsnj

Udemy is an online platform that helps you to create courses for categories like business, design, marketing, etc. You can develop new skills and achieve your goals by learning from the extensive library of various courses. Subjects that are available in Udemy are taught by expert instructions.

The outline of courses can be viewed on all devices connected to the internet. You do not require any prequalification to take any course. Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allow users to build custom courses from lessons.

Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

3. Udacity

Photo: insider
Photo: insider

Udacity is dedicated to bringing higher education to the world in the most accessible, affordable, and effective ways possible. Udacity offers online courses and credentials that teach students the skills that are currently in demand by industry employers. They claim to offer their education at a fraction of the cost of traditional schooling.

This is an excellent platform to look into if you plan on working in technology. With courses and credentials in Android, iOS, data science, and software engineering, you can get access to the most up-to-date education in these innovative areas that are relevant to today's tech companies and startups.

4. edX

Photo; blog.freec.asia
Photo; blog.freec.asia

Access 2500+ Online Courses from 140 Institutions. Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is home to more than 20 million learners, the majority of top-ranked universities in the world, and industry-leading companies. As a global nonprofit, edX is transforming traditional education, removing the barriers of cost, location, and access. With the mission to increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere Enhance teaching and learning on campus and online Advance teaching and learning through research

edX is a global non-profit organization and features courses from teachers and universities all over the planet in topics such as computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, and marketing. Most courses are free, though you can also pay for a verification certificate that attests you’ve completed a course.

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5. Khan Academy

Photo: ybox
Photo: ybox

Khan Academy is a non-profit whose mission is "to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere." Khan Academy is free for both learners and teachers, and offers lessons for students from kindergarten through early college, with topics including math, grammar, science, history, AP® exams, SAT®, and more. Khan Academy's founding partners include, among others, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Ann & Jon Doerr, and Reed Hastings.

The organization has expanded its online services for school-age students significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and learners of all ages can benefit from the growth in content, lesson plans, and more.

6. Skillshare

Photo: sea.pcmag
Photo: sea.pcmag

Skillshare is a community marketplace for new skills and there’s a good chance it has sponsored your favorite independent artists, YouTubers, or podcasters. With a broad range of different subjects to choose from, Skillshare offers an online catalog of video-based courses, as well as in-person workshops in multiple cities.

Many classes are available to take without a membership and for free. Some classes do have a cost as these teachers use online training as their source of income. You can pay for them individually or get access with a premium membership. Memberships cost either $19 per month or $99 per year and will make paid programs either free or reduce their cost.

7. Open Culture Online Courses

Photo: marissaux
Photo: marissaux

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

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8. Alison

Photo: tikibook
Photo: tikibook

Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. It is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to making it possible for anyone, to study anything, anywhere, at any time, for free online, at any subject level. Through the mission they are a catalyst for positive social change, creating opportunity, prosperity, and equality for everyone with more than 14 million learners in 195 countries, Alison is changing how the world learns and up-skills.

With a mission to bring the learning experience to everyone, Alison offers free courses for skills training and personal improvement. There are courses in information technology, languages, science, health, business, software development, the humanities, and more. Lifestyle programs range from photography and music to food and beverage and arts and crafts. You can also choose from courses in skilled trades like plumbing and carpentry.

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9. MIT OpenCourseWare

Photo: abakcus
Photo: abakcus

MIT OpenCourseWare is a learning website that offers various courses. It provides high-quality teaching and learning material that is available in an easily accessible format.

The website offers free notes of lectures, videos, and exams. This platform can be accessed with login. You can find courses by department and topics.

MIT OpenCourseWare can be accessed without any registration. The videos can be viewed online as well as offline. Such clips are accessible from Youtube and iTunes.

10. Stanford Online

Photo: online.stanford.edu
Photo: online.stanford.edu

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

Stanford Online, an education initiative at Stanford University, offers free online courses as well as professional certificates, advanced degrees, and executive education. Stanford Online offers courses from Stanford's undergraduate and graduate schools, including Stanford Law School, Stanford Business School, and Stanford Medical School, among others.

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11. LinkedIn Learning

Photo: etest.edu
Photo: etest.edu

LinkedIn Learning is a popular educational hub for professionals looking to learn new business, creativity, and technology skills. With over 16,000 expert-led courses, categories include animation, audio and music, business, design, development, marketing, photography, video, and more.

When you sign up with LinkedIn Learning, you get a 30-day free trial. You're then charged either $20 a month for an annual membership or $30 for a month-to-month membership. If you want to deactivate your membership and come back later, LinkedIn Learning has a reactivate feature that restores your account information, including your course history and progress.

12. General Assembly

Photo; bryanberger
Photo; bryanberger

Focusing on education in design, business, and technology, General Assembly has campuses in more than 30 cities around the world plus a comprehensive online education experience. It offers a mix of full-time and part-time classes online plus workshops, free training, and coding events.

Traditionally, many of its offerings are in-person or are a mix of online and in-person options. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it added Livestream and online options for every event it runs. Many moved online-only, and the company says it expects to expand online classes going forward because of the response to its digital tools.

General Assembly livestreams popular lectures and provides real-time interaction with the lecturer and other students. Costs vary if your choices are one-off lectures or multi-part workshops.

13. Academic Earth

Photo: alum-r1.mit.edu
Photo: alum-r1.mit.edu

This website presents free online college courses and lectures from leading universities like Berklee College of Music, California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and the University of Notre Dame. Courses range from accounting and biology to finance, world history, and health care administration. The platform also features original video presentations and curated playlists of college lectures.

The subjects of Academic Earth are designed in a way that suits your personal and professional needs. The platform has varieties of courses related to computer and IT, business, education, and health. These courses can be learned for free.

14. Harvard Extension

Photo: insider
Photo: insider

If you’re interested in studying business development or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Harvard University has made some of its courses and special projects available online. The Harvard Online Courses program gives you a mix of programs that are free or have a fee — ranging from $25 to a few thousand dollars. Topics vary from the latest in computing trends to learning how early explorers navigated using the stars or even real estate development for a post-COVID world.

Most courses are self-paced and include both lectures from Harvard professors and additional study materials. Every piece of audio or video content comes with a transcript to provide greater accessibility. While Harvard has put thousands of courses online over the years, it offers only a few hundred at any given time. This means most courses have registration deadlines.

15. Open Yale Courses

Photo: codecondo
Photo: codecondo

Open Yale Courses is the best online learning site website that offers free and open access to introductory courses that are taught by teachers and scholars. Lectures available on this website are recorded in Yale College classrooms.

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

This website offers learning through audio, text transcript, and video media format. You can access these materials without any registration.

Open Yale Courses provides courses like chemistry, economics, history, arts, English, and philosophy. It includes exams, suggested readings, and problem-solving.

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16. Canvas Network

Photo: classcentral
Photo: classcentral

Canvas Network is an online education site that offers various courses from leading universities. The entry on this site is open for all learners around the globe. The learning management system provided by this platform makes teaching and learning easier.

Canvas Network provides educators access to professional development courses and programs, and some of its courses are also open to the public. You can sign up with just an email and access a wide range of content and lessons. Its content is also available under an open license, so if you want to ultimately create your own content and lesson plans, you can utilize what Canvas makes available in some cases.

Canvas offers courses and tools in a variety of languages, making it open and more accessible than some other options on our list.

17. Open Learning Initiative

Photo: lumenlearning
Photo: lumenlearning

Carnegie Mellon University puts most of its classes online and there’s a free section available to anyone. The “independent learner courses” under its Open Learning Initiative are free for anyone. Once you find a course you want to take, you’ll need to create an account and add it to your list of courses. From there, you get a great dashboard that shows your “Open & Free” course options and will track the status of the classwork you perform.

You’ll find resources from business management and computer programming to learning better study and research habits to more traditional courses such as general chemistry, engineering statistics, environmental technology, and more. Free courses focus on STEM content, but you’ll find some paid plans for other subjects, such as French.

18. iTunes U Free Courses

Photo: thegioididong
Photo: thegioididong

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

Desktop users can access iTunesU in the upper right-hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

19. Codeacademy

Photo; commonsense
Photo; commonsense

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Codecademy teaches you how to write the code necessary to develop interactive websites using the most useful programming languages – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, and PHP – and does it within the browser using interactive tools.

Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organize lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

Codeacademy is an interactive platform that teaches you how to code in multiple different programming languages. Most free courses can be completed in less than 11 hours. Codeacademy has helped train more than 45 million learners in topics such as web development, programming, computer science, and data science. Codeacademy alums work at Google, Facebook, IBM, and Bloomberg, among other top companies. Codeacademy also offers a premium plan for a monthly fee.

20. TED-Ed

Photo: commonsense
Photo: commonsense

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes to a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

How effective is online learning?

A study by the National Research University Higher School of Economics found that online learning can be just as effective as traditional learning in the classroom. Student participants were separated into groups that studied the same materials in different ways, emphasizing in-person instruction versus online classes.

Overall, the average level of knowledge gained from each group was the same, though the average grade for assessments was higher for online students. This type of study demonstrates how effective online learning and professional development can be, especially when considering the lower cost of online classes compared to traditional classes.

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