Back to School: Free Resources for Lifelong Learners Everywhere

With Labor Day behind us, it’s offi­cial­ly time to head back to school. That applies not just to kids, but to you. No mat­ter what your age, no mat­ter where you live, no mat­ter what your pri­or lev­el of edu­ca­tion, you can con­tin­ue deep­en­ing your knowl­edge in areas old and new. And it has nev­er been eas­i­er. All you need is a com­put­er or smart phone, an inter­net con­nec­tion, some free time, and our free edu­ca­tion­al media col­lec­tions. They’re avail­able 24/7 and con­stant­ly updat­ed:

Free Online Cours­es: Right now, you can down­load free cours­es (some in video, some in audio) cre­at­ed by some of the world’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties — Stan­ford, Oxford, Yale, Har­vard, UC Berke­ley, MIT and oth­ers. The cours­es cov­er pret­ty much every sub­ject — from phi­los­o­phy, lit­er­a­ture and his­to­ry, to physics, com­put­er sci­ence, engi­neer­ing and psy­chol­o­gy. The col­lec­tion fea­tures about 400 cours­es in total. And while you can’t take these cours­es for cred­it, the amount of per­son­al enrich­ment offered by these lec­tures is end­less.

Free Text­books: Anoth­er tool for the life­long learn­er. This col­lec­tion brings togeth­er rough­ly 150 free text­books authored by pro­fes­sors (and some high school teach­ers) across the globe. The col­lec­tion will par­tic­u­lar­ly ben­e­fit those inter­est­ed in deep­en­ing their knowl­edge in eco­nom­ics, com­put­er sci­ence, math­e­mat­ics, physics and biol­o­gy.

Free Lan­guage Lessons: Ours is an increas­ing­ly glob­al­ized world, and it cer­tain­ly pays to know more than one lan­guage. With the free audio lessons list­ed here, you can learn the basics of Span­ish, French and Ital­ian (the lan­guages tra­di­tion­al­ly taught in Amer­i­can schools). Or you can start bon­ing up on Man­darin, Brazil­ian Por­tuguese and oth­er lan­guages spo­ken by the new world pow­ers. Tak­en togeth­er, you can Learn 40 Lan­guages for Free.

Free Audio Books: This free col­lec­tion gives you the abil­i­ty to down­load audio ver­sions of impor­tant lit­er­ary works. Dur­ing your down­time, you can lis­ten to short sto­ries by Isaac Asi­mov, Ray­mond Carv­er, Jorge Luis Borges, and Philip K. Dick. Or you can set­tle into longer works by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzger­ald, Friedrich Niet­zsche and James Joyce.

Free eBooks: Once again, it’s free lit­er­ary works. But this time you can down­load e‑texts to your com­put­er or dig­i­tal read­er. Franz Kaf­ka, George Orwell, Gertrude Stein, Edgar Allan Poe, Mar­cel Proust and Kurt Von­negut. They’re all on the list. And so too are The Har­vard Clas­sics, a 51 vol­ume series of endur­ing works.

Great Sci­ence Videos: This list pulls togeth­er some of our favorite sci­ence videos on the web. It fea­tures about 125 videos, cov­er­ing astron­o­my & space trav­el, physics, psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science, reli­gion, tech­nol­o­gy and beyond.

Intel­li­gent YouTube Sites: Have you ever want­ed to sep­a­rate the wheat from the chaff on YouTube? This list will give you a start. It fea­tures over 100 YouTube chan­nels that deliv­er high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion­al con­tent. Along sim­i­lar lines, you may want to vis­it our col­lec­tion of Intel­li­gent Video Sites. Same con­cept but applied to sites on the web.

Cul­tur­al Icons: If you’ve ever want­ed to see great thinkers, artists and writ­ers speak­ing on video in their own words, this list is for you. It has Borges and Bowie, Coltrane and Cop­po­la, Ayn Rand and Noam Chom­sky, Tol­stoy and Thomas Edi­son, among oth­ers. 275 cul­tur­al icons in total.

Free Movies Online: What bet­ter way to get a cul­tur­al edu­ca­tion than to watch some free cin­e­mat­ic mas­ter­pieces, includ­ing 15 films with Char­lie Chap­lin, 22 ear­ly films by Alfred Hitch­cock, 25 West­erns with John Wayne, and a num­ber of Sovi­et clas­sics by Andrei Tarkovsky. The list of 400+ films goes on. And so does your cul­tur­al edu­ca­tion.…

Get more cul­tur­al nuggets dai­ly by fol­low­ing us on Face­book and Twit­ter.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.