Learn Something New Online: Free Classes for Active Adults

It\'s never too late to learn something new, and these online courses can keep your mind active and engaged.

Active adults looking to keep their minds active and engaged will be happy to know that there is a multitude of free online courses for seniors. Sometimes referred to as “e-learning,” online learning is becoming more and more popular among people from all walks of life, and the selection of available courses grows every day.

These free online courses for seniors are the perfect way to strengthen the mind and foster personal growth. Classes range from classic studies such as learning a new language, learning to cook, or studying photography to more esoteric fields of study such as “dog emotion and cognition” offered at Duke or Yale’s “The Science of Happiness.”

Here’s a list of websites offering free online classes in a wide variety of subjects and specialties.

Open Culture

 /><figcaption>There are over 300 free language lessons on Open Culture and 150 free business courses.</figcaption></figure>
<p>With 1,500 free online courses, Open Culture is a wonderful online learning resource. This website provides links to free classes on downloadable ebooks, iTunes, YouTube, and many other learning resources. It provides free movies, free audiobooks, free eBooks, free Textbooks, and much more. There are over 300 free language lessons on Open Culture and 150 free business courses.</p>
<p>Check out some of the fun and interesting courses currently offered at Open Culture:</p>
<li><strong>Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology</strong></li>
<li><strong>Digital Photography</strong></li>
<li><strong>Fundamentals of Public Speaking</strong></li>
<li><strong>Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies</strong></li>
<li><strong>Poker Theory and Analytics</strong></li>
<li><strong>An Introduction to Screenwriting</strong></li>
<li><strong>Nutrition and Wellbeing</strong></li>
<li><strong>Food and Mood: Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition</strong></li>
<li><strong>Creative Writing: A Master Class</strong></li>
<p><strong>Note:</strong> Those looking to enroll in a free version of an online course should select the “Full Course, No Certificate” option.</p>
<h2><a href=Coursera
An older woman with glasses writing notes as she uses her laptop to take an online course
Coursera offers over 3,900 courses and specializations, 13+ professional certificates, and 20+ degrees.

Coursera is an online learning platform developed by Stanford professors, and it includes courses from top universities like Stanford, Yale, and the University of Michigan. It also includes classes from leading tech companies like IBM and Google. Coursera offers over 3,900 courses and specializations, 13+ professional certificates, and 20+ degrees, so college students often take these courses along with busy professionals and active adults.

Coursera offers a wide range of classes to choose from, but it specializes in computer engineering and data science classes. If you’ve ever wanted to learn the basics of coding or how to design your own website, this is the online platform for you.

Examples of some current courses offered are:

  • Work Smarter, Not Harder
  • Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity
  • AI for Everyone
  • The Science of Well Being

BBC Languages

An older man with headphones on concentrating as he listens to an online lesson
BBC offers beginning and intermediate audio and video language courses in forty languages.

Looking for a fun and interactive platform to learn a new language? BBC offers beginning and intermediate audio and video language courses in forty languages, including Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Chinese. Some of the helpful online lessons include video tutorials, tests, crossword puzzles, essential phrases, and helpful phrases to learn for traveling.

Open Learn

An older woman writing notes as she uses her laptop to take an online course
Over 900 free courses are offered at Open Learn.

The free online educational resource offers a variety of no-cost courses, in a wide variety of subjects. Choose from classes in Money & Business, Education & Development, Health, Sports & Psychology, History & The Arts, Languages, Nature & Environment, Science, Maths & Technology, and Society, Politics & Law.

Over 900 free courses are offered at Open Learn at introductory, beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Active adults may be interested in classes like:

  • Active, Healthy Lifestyles
  • Writing What You Know
  • Managing My Money
  • Eating For the Environment

Academic Earth

An older man writing notes while taking an online course on his laptop
The courses offered at Academic Earth run the gamut from Accounting and Art History to Physics and Social Work.

This completely free online resource is chock full of valuable learning courses, and it was established in 2009 with a collection of online college courses from the world’s top universities such as Columbia University, Stanford, Princeton, and Yale.

The courses offered at Academic Earth run the gamut from Accounting, Art History, Finance, and Physics to Social Work, Education, Phycology, and Business. The classes follow a traditional college curriculum, so those who missed out on college or didn’t finish will be happy to find college-level courses for free at Academic Earth.

Some noteworthy classes include:

  • Introduction to Oceanography
  • Capitalism and Its Critics
  • Behavior Modification
  • Blues Guitar
  • The Elements of Drawing
  • Romantic Poetry


An older man with headphones on taking an online class from his smart phone
By listening to a TED talk, you can learn about and gain tips on almost anything.

Although you can’t take classes at Ted.com, you can learn a wealth of information from the thousands of insightful videos produced here. TED talks are short, powerful talks around 20 minutes or less, given from experts and exceptional people from all over the globe. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, covering “almost all topics—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages.”

By listening to a TED talk, you can learn about and gain tips on almost anything, from overcoming public speaking anxiety to learning how to foster meaningful relationships. TED talks give insight on current topics and trends too, such as “The tech we need to end the pandemic and restart the economy,” and “How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

TED talks are presented by top experts, educators, activists, authors, athletes, journalists, entrepreneurs, and influencers from around the globe, such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Gilbert, and many, many others.

TED-Ed offers “carefully curated educational videos, many of which are collaborations between educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform.”

Learning should be a lifelong pursuit, and education shouldn’t end just because you stopped getting graded for it years ago. Online resources make it easier and simpler than ever to pursue knowledge, learn new skills, and hone hobbies. So get online and start learning today!

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