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10 Online Learning Sites to Help You Dominate Any Conversation

online-learning-sitesYou’re always on top of the tech trends, clothing trends and pop culture trends. Come to think of it, you’re usually on top of ALL the trends. But there’s a difference between being an early adopter and actually learning stuff. While keeping up with what’s cool and new on the market via Twitter may help make you the life of the party, 140 characters can only go so far.

Well, I’m too old to learn now, you may tell yourself. And anyways, learning is boring. Not so! The fact that you’re in your mid to late 20s, 30s, 40s or even older doesn’t mean you have to stop learning, and it certainly doesn’t mean that learning has to be boring.

Since you’re a trend genius, you might have noticed that there is a plethora of available resources on the Web to learn from – and keep it fun! Want to be more than just a semi-interesting conversationalist? Want to be able to fill that awkward silence? Want to be smart…even smarter than your friends? We’ve compiled a list of 10 online learning sites that will help you dominate any conversation.

Online learning sites that help you stay in the loop

1. TEDTalks

What the website includes: TEDTalks’ tagline is “ideas worth spreading,” and the website is chock full of ‘em. There are more than 1700 talks on everything from body language to poetry to hackers. Some talks are short enough to watch while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, and others last up to a half hour.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: If you like to inspire people, TEDTalks are the way to do it. The accomplished speakers from a variety of backgrounds can give you that boost of creativity you’ve been looking for, and the information you learn may even help change lives.

2. Khan Academy

What the website includes: Khan Academy is a nonprofit with the mission to provide free education to anyone who wants it. No matter your level, this website dispenses articles and activities to help you discover art history, finances, and more. You can also use the site to prep for tests and set challenges and goals for yourself.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: Khan Academy partners with a variety of associations and schools including museums, orchestra halls, and even NASA. You can gain location-specific knowledge about these institutes and view your stats in easy-to-read and well-designed graphs.

3. iTunes University

What the website includes: Access classes and courses from colleges and universities right from your phone or laptop! Whether you’re looking to refresh high school courses or study from a leading university, iTunes University includes a multitude of classes on everything from zoology to algebra that will make it convenient to learn.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: iTunes University carries the world’s largest catalog of free educational content: 750,000 free lectures, books, videos and more. Not only that, but you can do things like highlight notes and books and organize your assignments right within the app. So…organized and smart. That’s a one-up for you.

4. Skillshare

What the website includes: Skillshare believes that “the future belongs to the curious.” By offering a host of both classes and projects of which you can sign up for or take part in, this website’s founders hope that people feel encouraged to learn for themselves instead of being commanded to master a subject.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: Skillshare lets you learn from others and learn for yourself! Browse class projects that people around the world are creating. Check out a store someone is a starting after enrolling in the class, “A Staple of Branding: How to Start Your Fashion Company,” or look at the beautiful Chicago photography someone has taken after taking place in the class, “Cityscape Photography: Capture Your City’s Story.”

5. Code Academy

What the website includes: While you may be efficient in all things computer, you’ve probably already guessed that the current rise in technology means a need for more people who know how to write code. Websites, apps and other online programs can’t exist without that ability, so Code Academy makes it easy to learn. Need a refresher on what JavaScript is? Head on over! Curious about going deeper with HTML and CSS? Code Academy’s the place for you.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: Not only will you be able to delight your friends and family with your code-writing skills, but you may get hired faster! Technology isn’t going away, so by learning through the fun projects that Code Academy has available on its website you’ll be ahead of the curve.

6. Lynda

What the website includes: Lynda specializes in online video tutorials that will teach you software, business and creative skills. Take courses on photography, web development or music. While you’re listening to a lecture, you can practice your newfound skills with the instructor’s files at the same time.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: With clients like Patagonia, Adobe, and Microsoft, it’s no wonder that over four million people have taken a liking to Lynda. Lynda will boost your knowledge about any subject you choose, no matter your starting level or preferred learning device. Also, you have unlimited access to the library in case you need to catch up on some tips and tricks before that first date.

7. EdX

What the website includes: With game-like labs such as a 3D virtual molecule builder, EdX educates through social peer-to-peer learning and real classes from the best professors and universities around the world. A huge variety of courses and subject matters are offered on this site.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: With big names like Harvard, Berkley and MIT as EdX Charter Members, there’s no limit to what you could learn. And it could be kind of fun to mention that you’ve been taking online courses at Cornell. The sky’s the limit.

8. Google Developers

What the website includes: Everyone knows that Google is leading in many of their online offerings and development. Google Developers is your online jackpot for resources for leading trends such as mobile devices, video games, startups, web fundamentals and more.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: Not only can you check out products that other people are creating, but you can view the Google Developers calendar to see what conferences, events, and workshops will be happening near you. This site lets you join a community of people and network with like-minded individuals, keeping you savvy and on the cutting edge of what’s new and trending. There’s no doubt that things can only go uphill with that kind of involvement.

9. Big Think

What the website includes: Big Think knows that we live in the information age and that some of the best ideas might get missed due to the sheer volume of information out there. This website is committed to future thinking and providing a road map for sifting through the best ideas. Big Think is filled with videos by experts, engaging blogs and career mentorship for those hoping to turn specific ideas into actions.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: In 2011, TIME Magazine voted Big Think the number one website in News & Info in its list of 50 Websites That Make the Web Great. It’s clear that Big Think is paving the way for some of the most innovative ideas on the planet. Not only will you know things while making small talk at that cocktail party—you’ll know things that people haven’t even thought of before.

10. Udemy

What the website includes: Twitter, yoga, Adobe Lightroom—whatever it is, Udemy can teach you via their 16,000 courses in 10 different languages. Recommended by The New York Times, CNBC and Forbes, Udemy is a great option for online courses for both individuals and organizations.

How it will make you smarter than your friends: Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own company or perhaps you’re angling for a big promotion at work. Udemy has the tools to make that happen. These courses will not only enable you to learn things for yourself, but they will also make you a great advice-giver and teacher.

The learning doesn’t have to stop

While these online learning websites are a great place to kickstart and exercise your learning muscle, it doesn’t have to stop there. By learning from these sites, you’re preparing yourself to become an online student and easing your way into the transition. Take the next step and check out how you can earn an online degree!

Lauren Elrick

Lauren is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She enjoys helping current and potential students choose the path that helps them achieve their educational goals.

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