8 free online course sites for growing your tech skills

The cost of learning just got cheaper. CIO.com tracked down these eight free ways to grow your technology skill set.

8 free online courses to grow your tech skills
Thinkstock

Education doesn’t have to be expensive — there are plenty of free courses to brush up on your IT skills that require nothing more than an internet connection and a laptop or smartphone. These eight online education providers offer free programs and courses on nearly any technical domain. It’s a great way to dip your toe into a new topic with limited commitment, or to stay on top of developing trends and technologies in your industry.

Whether you’re interested in changing the direction of your career, just starting out, trying to beef up your resume or just looking to stay on top of technology trends, any of these eight online education providers can help you without breaking the bank.   

8 free online education sites for tech skills

  • Codeacademy
  • Dash General Assembly
  • EdX
  • Harvard Online Learning
  • Khan Academy
  • com from LinkedIn
  • MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Udemy

Codeacademy

Codeacademy offers free coding classes in 12 programming and markup languages, including Python, Ruby, Java, JavaScript, jQuery, React.js, AngularJS, HTML, Sass and CSS. The courses promise to give hands-on experience and real-time feedback from peers. If you like the courses, you can choose to sign up for a Codeacadmy Pro account for $19.99 per month, which will give you more access to hands-on projects, quizzes and advisors. Otherwise, the basic courses are all offered for free — so if you’re a self-motivated worker, they might be enough to get you skilled in coding.  

Dash General Assembly

General Assembly is a for-profit education organization, but they also offer a free course that promises to teach students the basics of web development. The Dash program focuses on teaching you how to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The program is free and completely online, so you’ll be able to learn at your own pace. The course includes tutorials and hands-on projects you can complete in your browser — if you’re interested in web design, it’s an easy way to test the waters.

EdX

EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider with university-level courses developed by schools, nonprofit organizations and corporations. These programs are offered for free to users, with courses from universities such as MIT and Harvard. Courses include short videos, interactive learning exercises, tutorial videos, online textbooks and a forum where students can interact with one another, ask questions and reach out to teaching assistants. At the end of your course, you’ll received a certificate — and some courses might count as college or university credits, depending on the school.

Harvard Online Learning

Harvard offers online access to course materials, lectures, programs and other educational content for free. The goal is to offer “effective, accessible avenues for people who desire to learn but who may not have an opportunity to obtain a Harvard education.” Courses are offered through a number of online learning content providers, including EdX, GetSmarter, HarvardX, Harvard Business School (HBX), Harvard Extension School and Harvard Medical School (HMX). There are courses on nearly every IT topic you can imagine so you can get a Harvard education, without the tuition bill.  

Khan Academy

Khan Academy was developed in 2006 as a non-profit educational organization, with the distinct goal of educating students online for free. Lessons are taught through YouTube videos, with additional exercises online for educations and students. Courses can be accessed on a mobile device and most have been translated into several languages, with nearly 20,000 subtitle translations available. While it might not serve as a formal education, it’s an easy way to learn new skills as you advance your career.

Lynda.com from LinkedIn

Lynda.com was founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman, a special effects animator and multimedia professor who founded a digital arts school with her husband. It originally served as online support for her books and classes but it started offering free courses in 2002. It was purchased by LinkedIn in 2016 and offers free courses for subscribers on a wide variety of technical topics. You can try it out for free for one-month, but after that you’ll need to pay $29 per month (or $24 per month for a yearly subscription) to get access to the courses. While it’s not completely free — you get access to all the courses for a subscription fee, making it an affordable option. 

MIT OpenCourseWare

In 2001, MIT University launched its initiative to publish all undergraduate- and graduate-level course material for free online through MIT OpenCourseWare. It was the first major university to make its coursework available for free to the public — 250 other colleges and universities have since followed in MIT’s footsteps. In 2018, MIT added complete video lectures to over 100 courses that users can stream or download for offline viewing. If you want to work on a certain skill or try out a new skill before you commit to paying for a course, it’s worth checking out MIT OpenCourseWare to see what they have on your topic-of-interest.

Udemy

Udemy is targeted at professional adults who need to fit education into their busy work schedules. Some courses on Udemy are free, while some are available at a fee — it will depend on the course and instructor. However, even paid courses won’t break the bank, as most go on sale for as low as $9.99, so you can typically find a good deal if there’s a course you want to take that isn’t free.

SUBSCRIBE! Get the best of CIO delivered to your email inbox.