Improve Your Skills for Free (Or Not Too Far From It) – Part 1

I’ve really gotten into online courses since the end of last year. Although they have been around for some time, there has been a significant increase in the amount of free or almost free MOOC courses. You can also study just about anything you can think of and for many of the courses you don’t need any prior experience. Here are a few places I’ve used myself.


With institutions like Harvard and MIT joining hands to create a space for online learning, Edx is one of my favourite places to hang out. They have a vast range of subjects you can choose from and some are broken up in different modules so you can pick and choose how deep you want to go into a specific subject, for instance the computer courses like learning HTML or Java.

So far I have completed a few courses, including an Introduction to Project Management. Some of the other courses I follow are as much about me being curious as anything else.

Note that you do need to pay for a verified certificate, although, if you do not want or need one, you can do the course for free.

Shaw Academy

Shaw Academy is a wonderful online academy from Ireland. More courses are being added every month, so I’m not going to list all of them here. Here are a small number of the courses they have at the moment:

  • Web Development
  • Mobile App Development
  • Social Media and ORM
  • Digital Marketing
  • Photoshop

I have finished a number of their courses and have found them to be really helpful in my professional and writing life. Follow Shaw on Twitter to see when which of the courses are on special. That way you can get a feel for the way in which Shaw Academy works without breaking the bank.

And, yes, your teachers do speak with Irish accents. *cough cough* Just saying.


I mentioned in some previous posts that I have joined Skillshare and that I’m really enjoying the classes I have followed. These classes focus on writing and especially writing creative non-fiction. Two which I can highly recommend is Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth With Style by Susan Orlean and Creative Writing: Writing From Memory by Ashley C. Ford.

Skill Share, however, contains much more than simply classes in writing and design. There are also loads of DIY classes that you can follow to learn how to make a myriad of different objects yourself.

In case you are still at school and you’re not sure what you want to do, I am sure that these online courses can also give you a taste of various subjects and study directions and can help you better understand what each one is about and what you can look into to follow to get a diploma or a degree.


By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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