10 Power Tools for Lifelong Learners

Every now and then, we like to remind readers of the audio/video resources that Open Culture makes available to lifelong learners. These collections are all free, and can be downloaded to your computers and mp3 players. When you add it all together, you will find thousands of hours of free educational content here from quality sources. If you have a chance, please
  • Free Audio Books:  This page contains a vast number of free audio books, including many classic works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Kafka, Shakespeare, Orwell and much more. You can download them all straight to your computer or mp3 player, then listen any time. (On a related note, you might want to see our list of Life-Changing Books, according to our readers.)
  • Free Courses from Major Universities: This list brings together over 250 free courses from leading universities, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxford and beyond. Theses full-fledged courses range across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including computer science. The page is a gold mine for lifelong learners.
  • Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & 37 Other Languages: Centralized in one place are free lessons that will teach you 37 languages. Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, even Finnish and Esperanto — they’re all free and portable.
  • Free eBooks: Here’s a new collection that features over 100 Free eBooks, most of them classics, that you can access on your PC, smart phone (including iPhone), and Kindle.
  • Ideas & Culture Programs/Podcasts:  In this one collection, we have gathered together some of the most intellectually stimulating programs available via podcast. The programs will keep you thinking and culturally up-to-date, as will our collection of science podcasts. All can be downloaded straight to your mp3 player.
  • The Best Intelligent Video Sites: Where can you go to find intelligent video? We have listed 46 web sites that feature a steady stream of intelligent content: documentaries, lectures, educational programming and much more.
  • Smart YouTube Collections: It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff on YouTube. But we have done it. Here you will find upwards of 100 YouTube channels that regularly serve up smart video content.
  • Our YouTube Picks: Over the past few years, we have featured several hundred YouTube videos on Open Culture. And some of the best ones we have brought together in our own YouTube channel. You can subscribe to this collection and watch new videos as we add them.
  • Great Classic Movies: Our new movie collection features landmark films for the student of cinema. Here, you’ll find numerous Chaplin films from the silent era, 12 Alfred Hitchcock films, and many other great works from the 1920s, 30, 40s and 50s. You’ll even find some great contemporary films as well. Many of the great American directors are represented here.
  • Open Culture iPhone App: A little something special for iPhone users. When you download our free iPhone app, you can take with you, wherever you go, many of the items listed above. Free Audio Books, Free University Courses, Free Language Lessons, Music and Science Podcasts, etc. Give it a try and tell a friend. Note, that per Apple’s requirements, you will need access to Wi-Fi.

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Comments (14)
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  • Margretha says:

    Thank you, thank you. Recently found you and I love this place :)

  • It’s amazing how there is so much high quality content available out there these days. I’ve been going through some of the computer science courses available online and have been really enjoying them. I think this is the future of education!

  • Susana says:

    Thanks, excellent info!

  • Your title is misleading. These are all resources, not tools.

    I’ve been an autodidact for the last five years and have used many resources from some of those listed in this post, books, and people.

    A possibly more interesting post would be one that does actually discuss in detail “life long learning” tools. Mental models, memes, routines, meditation techniques to prepare before reading a book, note taking skills, spaced repetition tools, mnemonic exercises, mental exercises, &c…

    This is a fluff post, and could be made much better (or atleast change your title to be more of an epithet).

    (By the way, this comment box is absurdly small)

  • Raymond says:

    I like this post/blog whatever. Is there a forum for lifelong learners? maybe I can comiserate with some people who are like me still going to night classes, online and at work well into the 50’s. Some of my friends think I am nuts.
    These resources will be useful I think.

  • The famous author J. Carroll tweeted about this post and I’ve blogged about it on living-las-vegas.com. Thanks for compiling a great list!

  • Thanks for this! I teach older students and always want info like this to share with them. Excellent.

  • Gordon says:

    Yes I’m sure there is a demand for a forum for lifelong learners and although I haven’t searched there are most likely groupings of this type around. The problem with forums is achieving a critical mass of users so that posts don’t remain unanswered and recent activity is always obvious to new visitors. We (at iBerry) have not been able to achieve this but maybe a more high profile website … with the “best free cultural & educational media on the web” can? We would certainly give it publicity.

  • Scott Leslie says:

    This is a great set of resources, thanks for collecting them, but as has been pointed out, they are *resources*, and learning on one’s own can be a lonely (though not impossible) affair. People ask about a “forum” for lifelong learners and the possibilities of creating one. Yes, there are “forums” for “lifelong learners” already, the internet is literally strewn with them, indeed on almost any single topic you could think about, I can guarantee you if you look hard enough you will find people already connecting on that topic, in discussion boards, mailing lists, blogs, wikis, community sites. Please please please don’t make the mistake of believing the world needs Yet Another Community Site, especially a generic one for “lifelong learners”; it doesn’t. What new learners need is maybe some help connecting with existing communities and conversations; I would venture that if you applied your considerable talent for finding quality open resources to identifying quality open conversations and communities this would be a MUCH more valueable service to the “lifelong learner” than any new site/forum/etc could be. Keep up the great work, sincerely, Scott Leslie

  • Eileen Nordstrom says:

    I’m hoping the iPhone app will be developed for Android. I would love to have this on my phone.

  • Seth Henric says:

    I feel very lucky for finding this page. It’s like finding a treasure filled with arsenals that both young and old minds can really utilize in order to survive the modern generation. Thank you for sharing these helpful materials!

    I just want to share something personal. I’ve always seen my future to be someone who will contribute new knowledge or things that are not yet proven by anyone to the society. I believe that you have done what I have always been wishing to do. I’ll definitely use these resources to improve myself and to achieve my purpose in life and lifelong dream.

    Thank you Dan and kudos to the Internet!

  • Fantastic list of free online resources for learning at any age!

  • Zylie says:

    Teaching your child numbers and letters should be fun for the child and you.
    1.) Using multi-colored construction paper, draw and cutout one letter or number at a time (starting with “A” or “1” of course). After you do each one, get some scotch tape and tape the letter or number to the child’s wall in his or her room. Before the child goes to bed each night, ask him or her where the letter “A” is on the wall. Just cut out one or two per night so that the child isn’t overloaded, and so that you will have something the two of you can look forward to doing each day.
    2.) If you’re waiting somewhere with your child (in line, in a doctor’s waiting room, etc.), just look around and try to find a sign, magazine, etc. that has numbers and letters on it. Ask your child to name the letters or numbers that you point out. It’s a great way to pass the time and to teach your child simultaneously.
    3.) Play a game called “Find the “A.” Tell your child to go around the house and find the letter “A,” whether on a book, a wall, a picture, or whatever might be around with letters on it. Reward your child with something, like a treat or a sticker. Then play “Find the letter “B.” With an incentive to find the letters, you’ll be surprised how quickly your child will learn.

  • Prometheus says:

    I was wandering astray..was depressed. Great masters like Jacques Derrida and I A Richards and his *gang* of New Criticism had snatched away my sleep of the nights..I was reckless. But Prof. Paul H. Fry came like an angel. Thanks to him and your entire team. Thanks.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.