There are so many online learning resources in our digital world that it has become difficult to filter the best ones. But what if you could find courses from some of the world’s leading educators, all available on your smartphone for free?
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 nonprofit organization that aims to “provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere,” and it certainly delivers on that promise. Whether you’re looking to brush up on your math skills, learn personal finance skills you were never taught in school, or prepare for an upcoming AP Chemistry exam, Khan Academy has it all.
The library of courses is very complete and includes:
- Math: Ranges from kindergarten level to college level calculation
- Sciences– delves into virtually all areas of biology, chemistry, and physics
- Economic Sciences: 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: Explore personal finance and career options in depth
Learning with Khan Academy is self-directed and doesn’t offer the ability to earn a certificate like other apps on our list. But if you’ve been looking for a free college-level education, Khan Academy is likely to exceed your expectations and more with the app’s great visual content and frequent quizzes to test your knowledge.
There is also a particular emphasis on helping students with their exams, such as the AP or SAT exams. Certain courses, such as US History or Macroeconomics, offer AP/College versions designed to help you pass the exams, with “Proficiency Points” that allow you to measure your progress as you answer quiz questions.
Discharge: Khan Academy for iOS | android (free)
While Khan Academy offers its own set of courses, eDX has partnered with universities like Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, along with industry giants like Google, IBM, and Microsoft, to deliver more than 2,800 courses in a variety of disciplines. These include areas such as engineering, law, and philosophy.
However, eDX is a for-profit company, so it does offer some perks if you pay for a course, such as archived course materials, professional certificates, and graded assignments/exams. With free courses, materials are only available for a specific period, but you can always start a course and then upgrade before the upgrade deadline.
That said, the free courses are more than enough to help you broaden your knowledge on a given topic. Most are self-paced and provide guidelines on how long it will take to complete, along with how many hours you’ll typically spend learning in a week. There are also some instructor-led courses with a set schedule and regularly published materials.
Viewing courses in the app is easy, with an intuitive design and simple course structure. You can even download videos for offline viewing and participate in discussion forums if you have any questions.
Discharge: eDX for iOS | android (free)
Coursera is like eDX, it partners with leading institutions and companies to deliver courses. It is known as one of the world’s leading learning platforms, offering over 2,500 courses in virtually every discipline. Coursera seems to emphasize career progression, with lessons from Google, Meta, and Hubspot, and Coursera certificates that can help you land 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 detailed paid courses and degrees that take months to complete alongside the live classes, 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 built with the user experience in mind. Respond and provide detailed descriptions of each course. There’s the option to download courses for offline viewing and even listen to audio only so you can listen to materials like you would an audiobook or podcast.
Discharge: Coursera for iOS | Android (free in-app purchases available)
Udemy takes a collaborative learning approach, like eDX and Coursera. But teaching is not just limited to institutions; instead, anyone with experience can teach a course on Udemy. This individual approach can be valuable in gaining a new perspective from someone outside of academia.
The selection of free courses is quite extensive, covering topics such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Excel, and photography. It’s also worth noting that there are more niche courses on Udemy, with free classes on aromatherapy, mental health skills, and playing the guitar.
The app is well designed and has a clean looking video interface. You may notice that it is hard to find free courses on the app as 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 this isn’t perfect. You may find it easier to sign up for a class on Udemy’s free courses page and then navigate to the My learning section and continue your course from there.
Discharge: Udemy for iOS | Android (free in-app purchases available)
Alison has a great selection of courses, with over 4,000 classes in a variety of subjects. These courses focus much more on career-related training, offering certificates and diplomas in topics such as ISO 9001, retail management, and chemical safety.
Diplomas offer an overview of a given field, while certificates teach specific skills. Any of these is a great addition to your CV and LinkedIn profile.
All Alison courses are free and there are no restrictions on access to assessments. After completing a course, you have the option to purchase a certificate or diploma. Both are very reasonably priced, costing up to $50 for a physical certificate and $150 for a physical diploma.
A nice feature to check out is the career guide, which breaks down different industries into specific roles, 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 her courses will be best for progressing in this role.
The Alison app has a simple design and the materials are delivered in a simple interface. Some courses do not offer video content or have limited video, so this is something to keep in mind if you prefer visual learning. That said, we’d like to point out that the app does feature ads, which can be a bit annoying, but you can remove them for a minimal fee each month.
Discharge: Alice for iOS | Android (free in-app purchases available)
Advance your education for free
For some of us, the pursuit of learning never stops. With these apps, broadening your horizons doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. Instead, you just need to spend your time.
Whether you want to gain cutting-edge skills that will land you a high-paying job at a tech giant, or brush up on the history you forgot about school, these online learning resources can give you all of that and more.