The pandemic has relegated millions of people to their homes, with not much to do but stare at various screens.
There’s the bad screen, otherwise known as the work or school screen. Then there’s the good screen, or the thing you stare at in your free time to watch TV, play video games, or mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.
But perhaps, after roughly four months of quarantine, it’s time to introduce something akin to a useful screen. We’ve got free time — not really by choice, but still — so maybe you want to make the best of it. It might just be the perfect time to learn a new skill, practice a language, or any number of other useful things.
That in mind, 7 sites to learn something new that can help you learn a new skill or at least waste a little time. Here they are, in no particular order.
A free, nifty way to test — and improve — your typing speed and accuracy. Hey, you may even learn how to properly type if you’ve never been taught.
Sure, the name is crass. But it’s less boring than Google and FuckingHomepage.com is updated every day with interesting facts and websites.
Fucking Homepage for July 9.
Credit: Screenshot / Fuckinghomepage.com
I love to cook and have found that the Basics With Babish YouTube series is a handy way of learning the skills, recipes, and base-level knowledge necessary to educate yourself on becoming a good home cook.
Recipes to try:
A quiz or test for like literally everything, from pop culture items like movies and music to weird history. Put your education to the test.
Quizzes to check out:
Edx provides free online education courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkley, and other colleges. Become the student for a college you never attended.
Coursera offers more free online courses for students from schools like Duke, IBM, University of Michigan, and more.
Khan Academy is a very popular site for students to learn for free. There are also tools for teachers and educators to help educate students.
Courses to try:
Skillshare is a place to learn all kinds of different creative endeavors and new skills, like photography and illustration. Some online classes are free but a premium account will run you $15 per month of $99 for the year.
Project Gutenberg is a clearinghouse of more than 60,000 free e-books. There’s really no easier way to educate yourself than reading.
Books to read:
If you’re looking to learn how to code, Code Academy provides basic lessons for free but a pro version will costabout $20 per month. Don’t let the lack of a classroom stop you from a learning experience.
Example lessons to try:
Duolingo is a very popular language instruction app and website that has an extremely terrifying owl that will shame you into learning a new language. We guarantee it’s a better learning experience than whatever your high school teacher tried to cram into 30 minutes.
Courses to try:
Household Hacker is a YouTube channel dedicated to simple DIY tricks to improve your home and educate yourself on simple tricks that will help you be a better person around the house. Learning how to clean your house has never been so fun.
A site for learning how to play the piano. If you seriously want to become a music student and learn how to play, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. But you can also mess around and play with your keyboard.
Songs to learn:
A look at Pianu’s set-up.
Credit: Pianu / Screenshot
A free site to learn how to play the guitar. It has lessons for total beginners that later ramp-up in difficulty. Justin Sandercoe (thus Justin Guitar) has been teaching online for decades and has tons of tutorials for just about anything. His YouTube channel has more than a million subscribers and his lessons are free online.
Pretty simple: Drawspace is a resource for learning how to draw. You can do some courses for free, but eventually, it’ll cost money. A membership costs $10 per month.
Lessons to try:
Alison is a hub for free classes on all kinds of things, from professional development, to marketing and math.
Classes to check out:
Gardening is more popular than ever. The Garden Answer YouTube channel has helpful tips if you’re trying to begin a gardening journey.
Don’t you want to expand your vocabulary? Don’t you want to keep your brain busy? Don’t you want to take part in perhaps the most unlikely internet sensation ever? All you have to do is visit the site and try to guess the word — and it’s just one puzzle a day, so there’s no big commitment.
Basically, TedEd is the education arm of Ted Talks. TedEd has courses and lessons for all ages and abilities. If you want to hear college-level lectures for free, they’re all there.
Lessons to check out:
Voraciously is a resource center from the Washington Post aimed at helping home cooks. They also have a super comprehensive How To section that can walk you through the basics of learning how to cook. If you’e never picked up a knife before, it’s a great place to start.
Resources to check out:
This article was originally published in July 2020, and was updated in February 2022.