Never Stop Learning: 10 Websites That Promote Lifelong Education
Back to school! That phrase may conjure images of racing to the store to buy notebooks and mechanical pencils, or even a fresh new outfit from Old Navy, but today, we take 'back to school' to another level.
After our primary education, adults enter the workforce, and tend to stagnate as their brain goes on auto-pilot throughout their lives.
But, continuous education has been proven to increase economic prosperity and overall health.
So, where to get started on your journey to become a lifetime learner? Well, luckily at The Bro Journal, we've put together a list of ten adult education websites that will continue to keep your mind fresh and agile.
What do Ben Bernanke, Buzz Aldrin, and Dolph Lundgren have in common? Well, all these gentlemen, even Ivan Drago, are all graduates of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While it may be challenging to get accepted to MIT, and cost you a pretty penny ($51,520 per year to be exact), the institution has provided anyone with an internet connection the ability to gain a formal education through their MIT OpenCourseWare platform.
They provide full college courses ranging from Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python to Multivariable Calculus to Environmental Technologies in Buildings. On top of these hundreds of free classes, there are podcasts, video lectures, and even free online textbooks. So, instead of tuning into Netflix and turning off your brain, head on over to MIT's revolutionary, open learning platform. Who knows? Maybe you'll have something to talk about next time you casually run into Dolph Lundgren at Whole Foods.
If you haven't heard of TED Talks by now, it's alright. We aren't the judgmental type. People who are experts in their field (in Technology, Education, or Design. Hence, TED), hop up on the stage at a conference full of like-minded individuals, and give a short presentation about what's new in their world. Some can be mundane, while others are fascinating, but these presentations, which are just PowerPoint on steroids, aren't the only way to gather new information.
TED has partnered with the world's top educators to compile a library of thousands of educational videos. While initially, these videos were geared towards today's youth, they have transformed into relatively simplistic explanations of complex ideas, suitable for all ages.
There are three main categories for these videos.
- TED Talk Lessons: These are your essential TED Talks, with a little extra information from the speaker, which may include suggested readings or footnotes
- TED-Ed Animations: These videos simplify and break down complex ideas into an easy-to-understand concept, using a fun animation to keep the viewer's attention.
- TED-Ed Best of Web: Using videos that already exist on the world wide web, educators create lessons and exercises for users to experience.
So, go explore the world of the unknown, or just catch up with the latest science discoveries. Hop out a bed and head over to Ted-Ed.
The title seems a little self-explanatory, doesn't it? Yet, HowStuffWorks isn't just about, well, how stuff works. The website is home to thousands of articles that breakdown complex ideas into simpler terms.
Although the site has been described as "infotainment," and most of its contributors are freelancers, from what we can tell, the information in each article is sound. Sure, some of their pieces may seem a little clickbaity or nonsensical, but most of their work is legit.
So, if you don't want a formal education, and prefer scrolling through articles, HowStuffWorks may be your best bet to enhance your journey of lifelong learning.
Learning a new language can not only keep your brain engaged, but may also be profitable, as many companies prefer to higher multilingual candidates. One website and app that is great for broadening your linguistic skills is DuoLingo.
You may know DuoLingo from the famous green bird, which all but threatens to murder you if you don't learn Spanish daily. Still, in just under a decade, this free language learning app has soared to new heights, providing lessons in 27 languages (and growing). Although, if you don't want the DuoLingo owl to haunt your dreams, we suggest turning off the notifications, or trying some other popular language learning software.
Known as the front-page of the internet, and home of the keyboard warrior, the popular forum site, Reddit, is much more than a dank meme factory. Within Reddit, there are smaller forums, known as subreddits - 1.2 million total, to be exact.
Within these subreddits, there are several that focus on lifelong learning, and it's not the simple educational tools that you're used to. We could write an entire article about hundreds of subreddits that help promote lifelong education, but since we're pressed for time, we'll give you our top ten.
- r/TIL - Today I Learned - Learn fun and interesting facts.
- r/science - Keep up to date with the latest science news.
- r/educationalgifs - Complex ideas broken into digestible gifs
- r/IWantToLearn - Don't know where to start? These are your people.
- r/CoolGuides - Infographics of accessible information.
The year was 2002. You had a paper due on the Ottoman Empire that required a lengthy, ten-source bibliography (MLA format, of course). What did the teacher always say? "Wikipedia doesn't count as a source." Well, Mr. Wagner, you're wrong!
Wikipedia is a fantastic source for gaining knowledge and continuing to learn throughout your adult life. Sure, the pages are written by unpaid contributors, but 99.99% of the information is vetted. If you want to dive deeper, all the sources are listed at the bottom.
So, if you want to kill some time, yet still be productive, click down the 'wikihole'. If you aren't sure what to learn, then click the Random Article link on the left-hand toolbar, and you'll learn some interesting, and sometimes bizarre new information.
Do you remember the days of searching for free ebooks online? You'd Google search 1984 George Orwell Free, but you what you meant was, "I'm too cheap to buy this book." Then, you'd finally find a semi-decent link on the umpteenth page of results, click it, and boom! Malware so harmful that it made downloading "videos" on LimeWire look tame.
Well, instead of infecting your laptop with a virus and also keeping money in your pocket, head over to Project Gutenberg. It's a library of over 60,000 free ebooks which are now in the public domain (and yes, they have 1984). For those that may not have the time to read, Project Gutenberg has free audiobooks as well. Sure, they may be just the classics, but they are classics for a reason.
If, for some reason, you don't like Project Gutenberg, here's a list of five more free ebook sites!
8. Code Academy
Back in the day, Boomers used to need a trade to fall back on, and repress their actual feelings. Something along the lines of woodworking, sewing, electrical work, or destroying the country for future generations. In today's technology-driven world, the best trade to have outside of your regular profession is coding. One of the best sites for self-taught coding and computer science is CodeAcademy.
There's plenty of courses for all skill levels, and a lot of them are free. There's everything from machine learning, to website creation, to back-end python (which would have been a great Ron Jeremy film). If you want to get more in-depth knowledge, as well as peer guidance on real-world projects, you can also shell out $19.99/month for the premium version. Either way, coding is a skill you should always have in your back pocket.
Your brain is muscle. It's a complex, electrically-active organ composed of gray and white matter, which is suspended in a fluid. But, for the sake of this argument, it's a muscle. And like a muscle, the brain needs constant exercise and variety to grow. So, if you're doing the same activities every day, you'll lose cognitive ability just like the bro in the gym who reps out hammer curls in front of the mirror daily loses respect from everyone in the gym.
That's where Lumosity comes into play.
Lumosity was designed by neuroscientists to help expand cognitive ability. It's a series of puzzle games for adults that focus on memory, problem-solving, and attention, or in other words, it works on everything your significant other complains to you about. At first, you'll get three free brain games a day, but you can upgrade if your wallet is fat enough.
Disclaimer: Lumosity did settle with the Federal Trade Commission for $2-million after being sued for false advertising. The FTC stated that they "preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline" and that there was no medical evidence to support their claim. But, hey, don't we all falsely advertise? Let's look at your résumé. How "proficient" are you really at Microsoft Office. Merely knowing how to VLOOKUP doesn't count.
Anyways, I've tried, and I liked it. I felt that it worked - placebo effect or not.
Ever want to learn a subject in school, but weren't able to? Well, as a kid, I sure didn't. But as a functioning adult that needs constant brain stimulation to prevent my ADHD from jumping into warp speed, I became interested in psychology and the human brain. There were so many articles and resources, but it was hard to focus on a topic. So, I turned to Udemy for help.
Udemy offers courses from industry professionals for those that want to improve their skills at work, or simply get to know more about an exciting subject.
Side note: the course I took was titled Master Persuasion Psychology. Five stars. Would take again.
There is no set schedule, and you can work at your own pace. With nearly 300-million course enrollments, and every topic matter under the sun, you can keep your brain spry and occupied (or at least that's what it does for me).
Pro Tip: Some courses tend to be pricey, so make sure you're fully committed before you enter your credit card info.
Instead of going home after work, turning on Netflix, and watching The Office for the eighth time, keep your brain engaged with these not-so-obvious adult education sites. Learn a new skill. Brush up on your chemistry. Heck, read a damn book! Live longer and happier with a constant flow of knowledge to your noggin and never stop learning!
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