Deciding to continue your education is a bold step that can lead to personal growth and career advancement. For adult learners who balance work, family, and study, online resources can be a lifeline.
Whether you’re enrolled in an accredited program, pursuing a certificate, or simply teaching yourself something new, online resources can supplement your courses and provide additional context.
We’ve put together a list of these resources – from tools that help enhance your learning skills to those that offer support – to help you enrich your educational journey.
1. Khan Academy
As a nonprofit organization, Khan Academy offers free, high-quality educational resources for learners of all ages. With practice exercises and instructional videos, it covers a vast range of subjects. Adult learners can use Khan Academy to brush up on forgotten math concepts, understand economics, or even learn the basics of computer programming.
This platform breaks down complex concepts into understandable lessons across subjects such as math, science, and humanities. Its interactive interface with instant feedback and progress tracking makes it particularly appealing for adult learners needing a flexible and engaging learning environment.
Coursera partners with universities and organizations worldwide (think Stanford and Google) to offer courses on a wide array of subjects. It’s ideal for adult learners seeking to expand their knowledge in a specific field or explore new career paths. Coursera provides both free and paid course options, some of which can lead to professional certificates or degrees.
Its diverse offerings include everything from business and technology to art and personal development, providing learners with both professional growth and personal enrichment opportunities.
3. LinkedIn Learning
Formerly Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning offers video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. It’s a resource particularly beneficial for adult learners looking to gain new skills in their current job or pivot to a new career.
LinkedIn Learning is the go-to professional development resource that integrates with your LinkedIn profile, offering a personalized learning experience. The platform’s courses are designed to develop the skills needed in today’s job market, such as leadership, project management, and creative problem-solving, with the added benefit of networking and showcasing your new skills directly to potential employers.
4. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg offers over 60,000 free ebooks for those who love reading. Adult learners can explore this vast digital library to find resources for their coursework or indulge in reading for pleasure without any cost.
It’s especially great for adult learners in the humanities or those who simply want access to classic literature without the cost.
This online mind-mapping tool lets you visually organize information, which can be especially useful for adult learners who are visual thinkers. Use MindMeister to brainstorm for projects, create outlines for essays, or plan your study schedule.
Quizlet provides learning tools for students to practice and master whatever they are learning. Adult learners can use existing study sets or create their own flashcards, quizzes, and games to remember course material.
The versatility of Quizlet makes it a standout tool for adult learners who can use it for anything from learning a new language to preparing for professional certification exams, with the added bonus of a mobile app for learning on the go.
7. Virtual Study Groups
Connect with peers from your course or field of study using platforms like Slack or Discord to form virtual study groups. This helps create a sense of community and accountability, which can be particularly motivating for adult learners studying independently.
Virtual study groups are also beneficial because they provide collaborative (and supportive) learning environments. Students of all stripes can exchange ideas and participate with students across the globe to help develop critical thinking, enhance study skills, and share resources, study materials, and notes.
8. Open Culture Online Courses
Open Culture compiles free cultural and educational media on the web. Adult learners can find online courses from top institutions, audiobooks, textbooks, and even movies—all for free.
This resource is particularly valuable for adult learners who are self-directed and have eclectic tastes, as it curates content from a variety of sources, giving learners a broad palette of topics to choose from and enriching their education.
9. Academic Earth
Academic Earth focuses on bringing accessible education to everyone by offering a comprehensive collection of free online courses from the world’s top universities. It’s a helpful resource for adult learners seeking in-depth knowledge in a specific field.
Academic Earth caters to those who seek a traditional academic challenge in the comfort of their own home, offering full courses with lectures that mimic the classroom environment.
Pocket is an app that allows you to save articles, videos, and stories from any publication, page, or app. Curate your own library of resources that are relevant to your studies and read them at your convenience, even offline.
Even better, the app can identify the latest and best articles that are relevant to your interests. The app’s settings can also be customized so you can tailor text and font for easier reading. You can also listen to articles with its audio playback option. What’s more, the tag option allows you to categorize all the content you save and even highlight important passages to review later.
Adult learners face unique challenges in continuing their education – but they also have distinct advantages. Yes, balancing work, school, and family obligations can be tough. But adult learners can also tap into their life experiences to bring unique perspectives and diversity to the educational landscape.
Treat these online resources as your toolkit for success. They can help you to learn efficiently, stay motivated, and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. Whether you’re seeking a full degree or aiming to upskill in your current job, the web is rich with opportunities for growth and learning. Embrace them and turn your continuing education journey into not just a means to an end, but a fulfilling adventure in its own right.