There are so many online learning resources in our digital world that it has become difficult to filter out the best ones. What if you could find courses from some of the best educators in the world, all available for free on your smartphone?
Today, we’re going to show you the top five free course apps that can do just that.
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that aims to “provide free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere,” and it certainly delivers on that promise. Whether you’re looking to hone your math skills, learn personal finance skills they never taught you in school, or prepare for an upcoming AP Chemistry exam, Khan Academy has it all.
The course library is very comprehensive and includes:
- Math: Ranges from kindergarten level to college-level calculus
- Science: Deepens practically all areas of biology, chemistry and physics
- Economy: Examines microeconomics, macroeconomics and financial markets
- Arts and Humanities: Covers world history and art of different empires
- Computing: Provides an excellent foundation for learning computer science
- life skills: explores personal finance and career options in depth
Learning with Khan Academy is self-directed and does not offer the option of obtaining a certificate like some other apps on our list. But, if you’re looking for a free college education, Khan Academy will likely exceed your expectations and more with the app’s excellent visual content and frequent quizzes to test your knowledge.
Special emphasis is also placed on helping students with their exams, such as AP or SAT exams. Some courses, like US history or macroeconomics, offer AP/college versions designed to help you pass exams, with “mastery points” that let you gauge your progress as you answer questions of the quiz.
While Khan Academy offers its own set of courses, eDX has partnered with universities like Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, alongside industry giants like Google, IBM, and Microsoft, to offer more than 2,800 courses in various disciplines. These include fields such as engineering, law, and philosophy.
However, eDX is a for-profit company, so it offers some benefits if you pay for a course, such as archived course materials, professional certificates, and graded assignments/exams. With free courses, the hardware is only available for a set period of time, but you can always start a course and then upgrade it before the upgrade deadline.
That said, the free courses are more than enough to help you expand your knowledge on any given topic. Most are self-paced and provide guidelines for how long it will take to complete, as well as how many hours you’ll typically spend learning in a week. There are also instructor-led classes with a set schedule and periodically released materials.
Watching courses in the app is easy, with an intuitive layout and simple course structure. You can even download videos to watch offline and participate in discussion forums if you have any questions.
Coursera is like eDX, partnering with leading institutions and companies to deliver courses. It is known as one of the world’s leading learning platforms and offers over 2,500 courses in virtually every discipline. It seems Coursera has a strong focus on career progression, with lessons from Google, Meta, and Hubspot, and Coursera certificates that can help you get a job.
Like eDX, Coursera also generates revenue by offering certificates for course completion. Paying for a course gives you access to all course materials and graded assignments, as well as a digital certificate that you can print or add to your LinkedIn profile.
There are in-depth paid courses and degrees that take months to complete alongside the live courses, but you can learn more than enough just by taking the free courses.
Despite the similarities to eDX, the Coursera app is easier to navigate and feels like it was designed with the user experience in mind. It is responsive and gives detailed descriptions of each course. There’s the ability to download courses for offline viewing and even go audio-only so you can listen to material just like you would an audiobook or podcast.
Udemy takes a participatory approach to learning, like eDX and Coursera. But education is not limited to institutions alone; instead, anyone with a set of expertise can teach a course on Udemy. This one-on-one approach can be helpful in getting a fresh perspective from someone outside of academia.
The selection of free courses is quite wide and covers topics such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Excel, and photography. It’s also worth noting that there are more niche courses on Udemy, with free courses in aromatherapy, mental health skills, and guitar.
The app is well laid out and has a clean video interface. You might notice that it’s hard to find free courses in the app because Udemy is mostly a paid service.
However, we found that the easiest way to find free courses in the app was to search for “Free”, although it’s not perfect. You may find it easier to register for a course under Udemy Free Courses Pagethen access the My apprenticeship section and continue your course from there.
Alison offers a great selection of courses, with over 4,000 courses in a variety of subjects. These courses put much more emphasis on career-related training, offering certificates and diplomas in areas such as ISO 9001, retail management and chemical safety.
Degrees provide a general overview of a given field, while certificates teach specific skills. Either makes a great addition to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Every course on Alison is free and there are no restrictions on access to assessments. After completing a course, you have the option of purchasing a certificate or diploma. Both are very reasonably priced, costing up to $50 for a physical certificate and $150 for a physical diploma.
A great feature to see is the Career Guide, which breaks down different industries into specific roles and then provides information on almost every aspect of the job, from recommended skills to a projected career map. Of course, Alison also suggests which of their courses will be best to take to progress in this role.
The Alison app is simply laid out and the materials are delivered in a simple interface. Some courses don’t offer video content or have limited videos, so that’s something to keep in mind if you prefer visual learning. That said, we would like to point out that the app contains ads, which can be a little annoying, but you can remove them for a small fee each month.
Advance your education for free
For some of us, the pursuit of learning never stops. With these apps, expanding your horizons doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Instead, you just have to spend your time.
Whether you want to learn cutting-edge skills that will land a high-paying role with a tech giant, or you want to brush up on that story you forgot from school, these online learning resources can deliver it all. and more.