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Free classes and reading materials you can access from home

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Kids aren’t the only ones who can do their learning from home.

Adults can take a cue from the kiddos and keep sane in this period social distancing by expanding their minds through study.

Luckily, a lot of organizations have free and open resources for our use, from coding classes to language learning, and lessons from history to science (note: many can be found through

Sure, you can pay for a Master Class, but with an unstable economy, free classes are worth checking out first. The following resources don’t require any sort of payment–they’re free! So get to learning!

Ivy League courses

Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University—are offering 450 free online courses through Class Central, a search engine and review site for free online courses.

Among standouts, we recommend Yale's "Introduction to Classical Music," Princeton's class on Buddhism and modern psychology and Harvard's interesting "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science." 


These online resources, usually used by the academic community, has offered free access to a number of publications (mostly early journal content published prior to 1924 in the U.S. and prior to 1876 elsewhere), but because of the pandemic, its publishers have made 26 newly released public health journals (covering epidemiology, health policy and administration, occupational and environmental health, health equity and the culture of health, aging, bioethics, and health promotion) available for free through June 30, 2020.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is asking for help in transcribing thousands of significant written and typed documents, from Rosa Parks' writings to personal writings of the leaders of the Women's Suffrage Movement and more. In reading and transcribing Rosa Parks's writings, you'll find that she was loving, compassionate, and nonjudgmental in the relationships that mattered most to her, according to the Library of Congress.

You can also explore the papers of leading suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Anna E. Dickinson, read through letters to President Abraham Lincoln or transcribe historical legal documents written in Spanish.

So if you're up to both learn and help further society's understanding of a historical event or leader, now's your chance.

The Hour of Code on

Want to get into coding but not sure where to start? Start with the Hour of Code–a one-hour introduction to computer science through activities and games that make it all digestible.


If you’re looking to brush up on your grammar or looking to improve your skills in public relations, communications or journalism, Poynter has several free intro classes you can take (Accuracy and Verification in the Digital Age, the Power of Public Records, Digital Experiences That Drive Results) as well as journalism fundamentals courses (How to Avoid Being Sued,  Leverage Your Video and Sound, How to Cover the Arts on Any Beat) for free through May 31, 2020 with the code 20COLLEGE100.


Been wanting to learn that second (or third) language but haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the time. Duolingo is a free language learning program you can access on your computer or via phone app that teaches you through games and quizzes, which is more fun than your old high school or college flash cards. Apparently, 34 hours of Duolingo is equal to one university semester of a language course. See for yourself!


Hank and John Green’s video production company Complexly, which is behind Sci Show, Crash Course and other popular Youtube learning series, offers its fun and educational shows for free on YouTube. Lean about the science behind our weird universe, the future of artificial intelligence, and the way our minds work through Complexly’s energetic videos that explain everything like you’re 5. 

92nd Street Y

While the 92nd Street Y is closed, its archives are wide open to the public. Learn from fashion icon Billy Porter, sex expert Dr. Ruth, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson or director Taika Waititi.

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