Feed the dream. Starve the distractions.
The signs are all around us – for career advancement, lifelong learning is a requisite and unproductive habits a deterrent.
Free is definitely an attractive word to enhance learning, but if you are reading this today, you’ve already displayed your keen interest in being a learner.
Luck favors us. We are living in a time when educators and subject matter experts are putting thrilling and life changing content out there, in the hope of vying for the most prized commodity – our attention. The only barriers to learning are our own personal motivation and mindset.
The beauty is that we can learn at our own pace and as long as we keep moving, forward is forward.
As a career woman and a business owner, I have my personal list of go-to resources that never fail to deliver. And everytime I stumble across a fantastic and FREE resource, I wonder why didn’t I know about this earlier?
Since you took a step forward and committed your time, here’s a curated list of free learning resources – Websites, Apps, Forums, Platforms etc. garnered from various career professionals. Have fun exploring new avenues to amplify your personal, career or business development!
TEDEd – Lessons Worth Sharing
TED talks are ubiquitous, but do you know of it’s lesser known sibling TEDEd, an award winning education platform? Take your pickings and explore this brilliant curation of short, high quality, mostly animated, educational videos designed to catalyse curiosity.
Check especially the Thinking and Learning category which offers scientific solutions to your everyday dilemmas – collaboration, organization, memory and problem solving etc. It’s more addictive than a morning cup of joe.
Watch. Think. Dig Deeper, Discuss and Stay Curious.
Tip: If you are, or know someone who is an exceptional educator, or a talented visualization artist, you can nominate yourself or them to work with TEDEd.
Growth Hackers – Knowledge from a Peer Community
With over 60 tags across different categories of growth this is a community to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business with both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments.
From AMA’s (Ask Me Anything), to Q & As, ideas and discussions, use the “Filter by Tag” feature to select by your chosen topic.
Michael Simonson, Founder at Click Boost states, “their discussion forum is great for finding insightful digital marketing blog posts. I used to go to different blogs, but I’ve found that just going to Growth Hackers to find helpful info is easier. It’s like one stop shop for digital marketing advice.”
Tip: Drag the Growth Hacker Bookmarklet link to your bookmark bar and click on it to submit your own article.
Small Business Development Centres – Advice from Local Experts
Education Director Gerri Detweiler of Nav shares “The SBDCs across the U.S. don’t just provide free mentoring, they provide tons of free education and can connect business owners to the right experts and fellow entrepreneurs to get them answers. The buzz you get after talking to them is exhilarating — SBDCs really care about fostering the growth of small businesses in America and they do it all for free or a low cost.”
Their parent site SBA provides even more resources, with free business mentorship through SCORE volunteers and Women Business Centres that seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.
Tip: Use their Events tool to search for webinars or in-person events near you.
Facebook Blueprint – Social Advertising
People don’t spend their free time on social anymore. They never leave! And if you are a business looking for customers, chances are you’ll find them on Facebook.
Meg Brunson Founder & CEO, EIEIO Marketing and a Facebook Expert, recommends Facebook Blueprint as her favorite free resource – Facebook’s internal (and FREE) course of study for learning how to run effective Facebook Ads.
“It’s great foundational information and anyone spending money to gain likes, boost posts, or run any other Facebook Ads should take the time to go through the lessons. Each module is broken into a bite-sized piece, so you can work your way through the content 10-15 mins at a time. I believe that everyone should go through the Blueprint courses before investing in any other type of Facebook-related courses. “
Slideshare – Flippable Decks of Information
Marcia Bennett says “Slideshare is a professional content sharing community with the most current and relevant topics across industries. I use slideshare as the information is easily accessible and is usually in a PowerPoint or PDF. “
Rebranded as Linkedin SlideShare, after it’s acquisition, it is a sharing platform for business documents, videos and presentations. With the “clip slide” feature, you can collect and organize the most important slides from a presentation and keep your great finds in clipboards organized around topics – kind of like a pinterest for slides.
Tip: SlideShare is also a good place to get visibility, so why not create your own slide deck?
Quora – An answer for every question
Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager for Maple Holistics recommends Quora, a Q & A platform which has immediate, down-to-earth answers and opinions.
With more than 200 million monthly unique visitors, they say that their mission is to connect people with questions to people with answers. Ask questions on any topic or dilemma you care about and get answers that are usually open-minded and knowledgeable. With popular answers being upvoted, you could also answer and be nominated as a top writer based on the number, quality, and popularity of contributions, and moderation history. Here’s a snapshot:
Tip: Quora is now also voice enabled, and available for Google Home and Amazon Echo. Just speak and get a community working to answer you.
Khan Academy – Practice makes Perfect
Sam warren, Director of Marketing at RankPay shares “One of the very best is Khan Academy. Whether adult learners need to brush up on high school math, learn the basics of investing, or are curious about the universe, you’ll find easy-to-digest videos at Khan Academy. I’ve been turning to it for years to both brush up on old knowledge, and pursue new interests.”
With a landing prompt like ‘Learners Start Here’, do you need any more convincing to join this fabulous website and educational app filled with videos aimed at self-paced instruction? The site also offers an almost unlimited number of practice exercises, organized by topic, with instant feedback and progress data. Encouraging interactivity, users can leave comments, ask and answer content-related questions and rate the pace of each video.
Tip: Learn together with a friend or add accounts of family members and easily monitor individual progress.
Degreed – Capture all your learning
Degreed allows users to discover, curate, share, track and value all kinds of learning – from any source – all in one place. They emphasize that all learning matters, whether formal or academic (like taking a course), professional or informal (like reading an article online). With Degreed, you can track all of it.
With an emphasis on skill development, it scores and organizes users formal (e.g. Harvard) and informal learning (eg: MITx, KhanAcademy, YouTube Videos, Books, TED Talks, News Articles etc.) enabling users to unlock employment and learning opportunities.
By making learning portable, it allows you to keep your learning profile and continue to get credit for your learning as you move from one employer to the next over the course of your career.
With the Degreed browser extension, you can click on any article that was meaningful to you and make it part of your learning profile.
Tip: Add the decreed button to your toolbar and track every piece of learning you undertake by marking it complete. Decreed assigns points to everything that you read so watch it all add up. (Image below)
Google Primer – Online Marketing made easy
The Primer app by Google teaches startups and amateur marketers the ropes of online marketing in 5-minute, condensed, interactive lessons, aimed specifically at busy schedules.
It’s fantastic and playful UI is a fast, easy way to learn new business and marketing skills across more than 15 categories on topics like creating a website, social media, online advertising, web analytics, or building your brand.
Tip: The entire curriculum is available offline, so you can power through a lesson or two anytime, anywhere.
Tech learning – Unravel the source code
Apple CEO Tim Cook calls coding a language to express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.
Brittany Jacobs, Web Developer at Humble Humans, recommends Codecademy.com, an online freemium interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages & makes learning to code fun and rewarding, offering plenty of help along the way. “I use it anytime I need to learn a new language or brush up on one I haven’t used in a while. It has been an invaluable resource.”
With a mission to teach people to code in bite-sized, gamified chunks delivered via mobile app, I love the the Py App for its ease of use and friendly UI.
Not sure if learning tech is the right choice, take Skillcrush’s Free 10 day bootcamp to make coding accessible and fun. Focused on getting more women, men of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, people without college degrees, parents and caretakers, or people who’ve taken long breaks from the workforce into the tech world, they endeavor to make tech a tool anyone can use.
More Free ways to learn
Career & Business Blogs, Empowering Podcasts, Learning Videos and Books, the free ways to learn are immense. Exposing yourself constantly to new information is a sure fire way to catch the learning virus and in turn spread it.
Finally, here’s the one prime Free learning resource for most entrepreneurs & professionals as shared by Brad Clonan, Founder of XYZLeads. “Customers! They’ve taught me everything I know about succeeding in my ventures.”
If you don’t learn from your customers’ feedback, someone else will!
That’s the beauty of learning – it’s contagious in the sense that one idea or nugget sparks another, and possibly many more.
Tell us, how do you learn and grow!
Note: While the information above is believed to be accurate and recent, readers are advised to do their own fact finding before making any decisions. Maroon Oak does not endorse or recommend any specific learning institution, nor has the Company been compensated in any way for listing the names above.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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