Learning new skills is one of the best ways to help jumpstart your career or transition into a new industry. While learning a new skill can be fun and rewarding, it’s also challenging. You’ll need to commit time, effort, and sometimes even money to eventually master any craft you start.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 70+ online resources and five helpful tips for how to master new skills.
Table of Contents
- Online university courses
- Online courses (non-university affiliated)
- Computer skills
- Ebooks, online books, and academic journals
- Five steps for learning new skills
1. Online university courses
Universities are a great source for learning new skills, with many offering online classes for free. Below, we’ve provided a list of universities and the courses they offer, with many even providing certificates once you’ve completed the class.
Just a reminder though, some university sites provide better content than others in specific areas of study. Depending on your interest, you should do some research prior to enrolling in a course.
Here’s a list of nine university-funded online resources for learning new talents and skills:
- Carnegie Mellon: list of online courses offered by Carnegie Mellon University
- Johns Hopkins University: list of (free and paid-for) online courses offered by John Hopkins University, through coursera
- Harvard University: free online courses provided by Harvard University
- MIT OpenCourseWare: free educational resource offered by MIT
- Stanford University: free online courses offered by Stanford University
- University of New South Wales: free educational videos offered by University of New South Wales via Youtube
- University of Sydney: online resource for podcasts on a variety of topics, hosted by the University of Sydney
- Open Yale Courses: previously recorded courses, offered for free online by Yale University
- P2P University: resource that connects you to both online and in-person free courses
2. Online courses (non university affiliated)
Besides universities, there are other resources on the web that can help you learn useful new skills. These websites are less structured than the above university-affiliated ones, but are still relevant if you want to list continuing education on your resume.
Here’s a list of 14 online education resources that you can use to learn unique skills at home:
- Academic Earth: collection of online courses offered by different universities worldwide
- Better Explained: great resource for math learners
- Cosmo Learning: offering online courses related to astronomy, science, and mathematics
- Coursera: famous website with a huge catalog of online courses on nearly every topic imaginable
- Free Video Lectures: vast source of free online video lectures
- Freelance Teacher: free resource with videos mostly on mathematics, physics, and chemistry
- Khan Academy: similar to Coursera, offers numerous online courses on a multitude of topics
- LectureFox: online source of lectures for kids
- Mixergy: contains shared educational information for entrepreneurs
- Open Culture: website that contains free and paid-for online courses on a variety of topics
- Brainly: shared education resources (textbooks and courses) for students
- Chegg: online resources for selling and sharing education materials
- TED: online platform that features videos on a variety of topics, hosted by renowned speakers globally
- OpenStax: OpenStax provides free textbooks and reading materials for many subjects
3. Computer skills
If you’re interested in learning programming as a skill, there are many free resources available on the web for you to use. The following list of 14 computer programming resources is intended for all levels of learners:
- Thinkful: courses on programming and data science
- D Zone: programming and developer question and answer Site
- Free Technology Academy: has online courses in software development and coding
- Developing for Android: dedicated to courses on app development on the Android platform
- Linux tutorial: Reddit site dedicated to Linux tutorials
- Envatotuts+: web development tutorials
- Stack Overflow: community to share and answer coding-related questions
- W3schools: tutorial on the basics of coding
- VideoCopilot: tutorials for adobe after effects
- How to think like a computer scientist: ebook on programming
- CalTech CS Java Track: beginner Java syllabus, with assignments and labs.
- Free Java Learning Materials: website with links to many free Java learning materials
- MIT Intro to Programming in Java: introduction to Java course offered by MIT
- ORACLE Java Tutorials: Java tutorials offered by Oracle
While not always useful for landing a job, playing a musical instrument is a great hobby.
Here are ten online resources for learning music:
- Play bass now: bass lessons
- Guitar lessons at Ultimate-Guitar: expansive online catalog of guitar lessons
- Guitar lessons at the next level guitar: boasts over 2000 online videos on how to play guitar
- Guitar lessons at Justin Guitar: online guitar lessons offered by Justin Guitar
- Guitar neck quiz: online quiz on how to play guitar
- Music theory: ear training
- MusicTheory.net: contains a number of lessons on music theory
- How to play piano: offers two free courses on how to play piano
- Classical music theory: dives into music theory
- Berklee: free music lessons
With the world becoming increasingly interconnected, having the ability to speak multiple languages is a highly sought after trait for many employers. If you take on learning a foreign language as a skill, it will pay off when you’re able to list your language skills on your resume.
You’ll find a multitude of websites and applications that can help you learn a new language.
Here’s a list of eight of the most well-known language learning sources:
- Duolingo: application that offers free lesson on multiple languages
- BBC Languages: free languages lesson, for multiple languages, from the British Broadcasting Corporation
- Talk To Me In Korean: lessons on speaking Korean
- Anki: free flashcard application, with built-in AI that helps you learn (requires you to make your own flashcards)
- Pleco: the world’s number one Mandarin Chinese dictionary (for mandarin chinese learners)
- Pimsleur: offers free and paid-for lessons on multiple languages
- Hellotalk: free application that connects you with other users to do language exchange with (via their platform)
- Rosetta Stone: famous website offering programs on multiple languages
Some people love cooking, while others not so much. However, even if you’re not applying for restaurant jobs, cooking is a great life skill to have.
Here are seven free online resources for learning to cook:
- The Cook’s Roadmap: free course on the fundamentals of cooking
- Introduction to culinary skills: free courses on cooking basics
- Diploma in food skills and techniques: free cooking course aimed at preparing individuals for the restaurant and catering industry
- Think Like A Chef: A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with Confidence: free course offered by Skill Share
- Online cooking and baking classes: free online cooking courses offered by Shawn Academy
- Master classic indian cooking: online cooking courses on Indian food
- Cooking 101: Exploring vegetarian meals: online courses on how to cook vegetarian food
7. Ebooks, online books, and academic journals
Reading ebooks is a great way to learn new skills. If you’re still unsure exactly what skills you want to learn, reading about different subjects might help you decide on something.
Here are nine online resources for scholarly articles, ebooks, and magazines on a multitude of subjects:
- CiteSeerX: database full of scholarly journals and articles
- Directory of Open Access Journals: useful for students looking for articles or journals to cite (or read)
- Librivox: a free audiobook website
- Open Book Project: free educational textbooks
- Planet eBook: free ebooks
- Project Gutenburg: free ebooks
- The Free Library: database of free ebooks, articles and magazines
- The Assayer: very large catalog of books whose authors have made them available for free
- WorldCat: worldwide library catalog
5 steps for learning new skills
Now that you’ve reviewed some resources you can use to learn new skills, it’s important to remember a few steps along the way that will help you master any new skill you choose to study.
1. Set quantifiable goals
Before beginning to learn a new skill, make sure you have a quantifiable goal to work towards. Additionally, you need to back up your goals with some hard numbers so you can:
- Track and document your progress
- Clearly see results
For example, if you want to start studying French, your goal should not be “I want to improve,” but a specific goal like: “I want to learn 500 new words or grammatical patterns in French within six months.”
You can further choose to make long-term and short-term goals. For instance, 500 words in six months may be a short-term goal, while your long-term goal is 1000 words in one year.
You can measure 500 new words, but it’s much harder to measure “improvement” without any concrete data or numbers behind it.
Additionally, once you’ve reached 500 words, you’ll feel accomplished because of your improvement, which will encourage you to continue studying. If you don’t see any real progress, it can be very discouraging to continue no matter what skill you’re practicing.
2. Focus on learning one skill at a time
Most people that want to study new skills have outside commitments, such as work, family and friends that require their time and attention. Therefore, it’s important not to stretch yourself thin by taking on several skills simultaneously, but rather focus on learning only one, or two (at the most) at once.
You’ll find it’s much easier to stick to a study regiment and see results when you’re intently focused on learning only one or a couple skills at the same time, compared to when you’re studying multiple.
3. Be consistent
When considering something new to learn, it’s important to be consistent while studying. Otherwise, you won’t see any real progress, and will likely just get fed-up and quit.
Here are two ways to stay consistent when learning new skills:
- Create a study plan (commit time everyday to learning your new skill)
- Take breaks
Study plans are great for measuring your success (similar to setting quantifiable goals), but you need to commit time everyday, rather than focusing on “how much” you’re going to learn in any given amount of time.
Studying any subject daily, even if only for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, will help you in remembering and retaining the information you’re studying.
Equally important, however, is to know when you’re burned-out and in need of a break. Just like work, school, and social obligations, anyone can get burnt out when attempting to master a new skill.
It’s important to recognize when you’re feeling a loss of motivation and to take a needed break (just as long as you return once the break is finished.)
4. Use available resources
Educational resources are widely-available, and you’ll need to ensure that you take advantage of them when studying to maximize your progress.
The internet is a great place to start. Besides the links that are included on this page, there are many more websites dedicated to providing education that you can use.
Typically, if you use Google, you’ll find either a course, video, or book (sometimes free of charge) that is dedicated to the skill you’re trying to master.
Don’t leave out your local public library as a possible solution either. Libraries, while having fewer visitors as resources become increasingly available online, are great sources of information and provide an excellent study location due to their quiet atmosphere.
5. Use tested study methods
Finally, if you’re going to create a study plan for learning a new skill, it will greatly benefit you to use a study method that has been tested and proven to work.
Here are six tested study methods that are each proven to help you get better results:
- SQ3R: survey, question, read, recite, review
- PQR4 method: preview, question, read, reflect, recite, review
- Feynman technique: argues that if you don’t understand a subject, try and teach it to someone else
- Leitner system: ingenious study method that uses flashcards (particularly helpful for studying languages)
- Retrieval practice: essentially, instead of reviewing notes, try to write down what you remember from previous study session or class to jog your memory
- Spaced practice: don’t cram the night before a major test