Get ahead of the crowd with Premium
Register Forgot password

The Best Free and Cheap Online Courses to Keep Your Brain Active

Lucy Miller 25th Mar 2020 One Comment

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Looking to use your current stuck-in-the-house time to teach yourself a new set of skills? Want info on the best free and cheap online courses to keep your brain active during coronavirus isolation?

We’re all in the process of working out how we’re going to spend the next few weeks (or months) of limited social interaction. And whilst we’re largely house-bound, it’s a great time to upskill using one of the many free and cheap online courses that are available. 

So, why not dedicate one evening a week to learning Spanish, firming up your coding skills, or discovering how to distil whiskey? 

If there’s any benefit at all to this situation, it’s that we can use it to work on ourselves. There are loads of places online that can help us do that, from massive online course catalogues to independent colleges. Here, we’ve identified just a few of them.

free Online courses to Try Today 

Girl with laptop screen

1.Google Analytics Academy

Best for: those who want to learn digital marketing skills, specifically those that will allow them to track analytics for websites 

The Google Analytics Academy is a great place to start if you’re looking to improve your skills in digital marketing or if you think you might want a career in this area in the future. 

It’s a great time to consider digital marketing as a future career option: all organisations have been online for years now, and being able to understand the systems used to track and improve how they perform is an increasingly important skill. 

The Google Analytics Academy offers a range of completely free courses, starting from beginner upwards. Data is the future. Use this time to start understanding it.


2. OpenLearn

Best for: those who want to dip their toe into university-level education without a big commitment 

OpenLearn, the free online learning platform offered by the Open University, offers courses in everything from history and the arts to business and money, to education and development. 

Courses start at just one hour, so you could take an introductory course in subjects as diverse as “How do empires work?”, “Meeting minority needs” or “Studying natural sciences bilingually” before deciding whether you want to do a longer course (of up to 30 hours). Perfect for the time-poor. 

Browse OpenLearn’s full catalogue to find a course for you.


3. Coursera 

Best for: Anyone who wants to use their coronavirus isolation time to improve their future career prospects 

Coursera is a platform that works with universities and mega brands to offer free courses online. This is a great option for those who want to emerge from their coronavirus cocoon with a new-found skill to progress in their career. 87% of those who turned to Coursera for professional development reported career benefits like a pay rise in 2019.

There are nearly 4,000 courses and specialisations available on Coursera. It’s highly likely that you’ll find something that’s relevant to your industry!


4. vision2learn

Best for: those who aren’t in any other form of government-funded training, and want to learn specific skills for work

vision2learn offers a range of courses that are designed to lead to specific qualifications. All courses are accredited by Further Education colleges, too. They’re Government-funded for those who are eligible. Available courses include Lean Organisational Management Techniques, Essential IT Skills, Dementia Care,Nutrition and Health, Customer Service, Infection Control, End of Life Care and Dignity and Safeguarding. 

5. Duolingo

Best for: anyone who wants to learn a new language

Duolingo is a fantastic – and totally free – language learning app. You can use it on your desktop PC or download the app to your phone. Daily bitesize lessons, pop quizzes, and easy-to-understand learning formats make it the perfect way to learn a new language for free. It’s so easy, you could even use it with your children to help with their modern language home school lessons!

Cheap online courses to learn a new skill

Male photographer setting up a camera shot

1. Shaw Academy 

Best for: those who want to get a qualification online in their own time

Frequent massive discounts mean you could get a marketing diploma or undertake a multi-week online photography course (for example) for just £19 with Dublin-based Shaw Academy. Courses range from beauty and health and wellness to design, finance, technology and languages. Take your classes a couple of times a week via webinar, and then complete a short exam at the end of the course to get your diploma. The Shaw Academy comes Money Magpie recommended (yes, we’re still bragging about our distinction.) 


2. Udemy 

Best for: those who want to invest in lifelong learning 

You might already have heard of Udemy: it’s the biggest online course catalogue in the world, offering over 100,000 online video courses, with new additions added every month. Lifetime membership unlocks an almost unlimited number of courses, offering a wealth of knowledge in areas as diverse as teaching, business, design, health and fitness, music, finance and personal development. 

There’s also a risk-free 30-day guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your course you can get your money back pronto. If you look closely, you can also find free Udemy short courses, too!


3. Learning Tree International 

Best for: those who want to invest in their IT and business skills 

Learning Tree is a site dedicated to offering professional development and continued education within the IT and business spheres. Nearly 400 courses cover areas including Agile and Scrum training, Windows Systems, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, Mobile App Development, Python, Javas, and Leadership and Personal Development. 

Learning Tree is also the only accredited (ISC)² training partner in the United Kingdom with virtual classroom capability, making it a great option whilst we’re on coronavirus lockdown. Time to join the #TREERevolution? We think so. 


4. Edinburgh Whiskey Academy 

Best for: those who want to provide themselves with some light relief

And now for something completely different. 

Want to learn about whiskey? What about attending a (virtual) Gin School? 

Step forward the Edinburgh Whiskey Academy, whose online courses include subjects including the chemistry behind flavour, as well as intros to the aforementioned whiskey and gin processes.

Their £120 Introduction to Whiskey Certificate comes recommended by Forbes and is SQA-certified. The course will introduce you to the history, production and business sides of Scotland’s most famous drink. Perfect for anyone who’s interested in the drinks industry, or wants to manufacture a side hustle in distilling themselves. Cheers to that. 

You might also like: 

Got any other online courses that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments.


Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

Great resource with some good links. Thanks.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

Send this to a friend