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And most of them offer courses for free!

Chances are you probably hated homework from school, but as you’ve gotten a little bit older, actually learning some new stuff has become more of an interest to you. Loathing yourself for feeling this way and wanting to sit and study, yet finding joy in new facts, a new hobby or area of expertise. And the great part about it all is that there’s so many low cost or sometimes even free options to do so.

Long days, early starts, late nights – with crazy shift patterns which are the bane of any hospitality professional’s life, the flexibility that online learning brings is just perfect.

There are thousands of courses out there that can help you with pretty much any area of interest. Whether it’s management and leadership skills that can assist your growth at work, learning a new language or even just brushing up on your personal development. As an avid lover of online learning myself, and having gone through that mental process to accept my love for it, I’m excited to share a round-up of the best sites I’ve found over the years…  

1. OpenLearn

OpenLearn offers both short courses and bite-size learning experiences, such as audio and video.

Pros: It’s all free and there are lots of topics to choose from, and you can also get a digital badge to share your achievements! Make that LinkedIn profile shine with your new certifications.

Cons: You might learn TOO much.

Topics include:

·  Money & Business

·  Education & Development

·  Health, Sports & Psychology

·  History & The Arts

·  Languages

·  Nature & Environment

·  Science, Maths & Tech

·  Society, Politics and Law

2.   Udemy

Udemy is a collection of online courses and training submitted by experts in their field, from all over the world. As a personal user, you pay for each course individually.

Pros: There are a bunch of free courses and so many different types, plus all courses have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Cons: If you’re looking for the mostly free stuff there are probably better sites for you.


·  Development

·  Business

·  Finance & Accounting

·  IT & Software

·  Office Productivity

·  Personal Development

·  Design

·  Marketing

·  Lifestyle

·  Photography

·  Health & Fitness

·  Music

·  Teaching & Academics

3.   Future Learn

Future Learn offers a huge range of online courses delivered in tandem with universities and industry experts.

Pros: Most courses are free and have a start date meaning you can interact with fellow students and the course tutors through the platform. There’s also the option to earn professional, academic accreditation and online degrees!

Cons: After a certain time period you do have to pay to upgrade your account to access that content in the future and if you want a certificate.


·  Management

·  Creative Arts & Media

·  Healthcare & Medicine

·  History

·  IT & Computer Science

·  Language

·  Law

·  Literature

·  Nature & Environment

·  Politics & Society

·  Psychology & Mental Health

·  Science, Engineering & Maths

·  Study Skills

·  Teaching

4.   Harvard University

Harvard University offers a very eclectic mix of courses which can be sorted by topic and by their difficulty too, giving those who are familiar with an area already the chance to take their learning to the next level. 

Pros: You can choose from Computer Science to more philosophical interests, there are lots of courses available for free.

Cons: Some prices go up to $4,000 for formal certifications.


·  Art & Design

·  Business

·  Computer Science

·  Data Science

·  Education & Training

·  Health & Medicine

·  Humanities

·  Mathematics

·  Programming

·  Science

·  Social Sciences

5.   Google

Google primarily focusses its training on digital marketing, given its heavy influence in this area.

Pros: You can get qualified via Google for their products such as Ad Words via the Skill Shop, but they also offer more generic business-focussed courses via the Digital Garage too. Live webinars are also available with Google experts – plus it’s all for FREE!

Cons: The courses are limited to mostly digital marketing and the Google products themselves. 

·  Data & Tech

·  Digital marketing

·  Career Development

·  AdWords

·  Analytics

·  Google Marketing

·  YouTube

·  Google Ad Manager

6.   Virtual College

Virtual College provides a number of ready to go online training courses, from Health & Safety through to the essentials of GDPR.

Pros: There’s a great selection of ‘Food & Drink’ courses that are imperative for some of us in Hospitality, and they are so reasonably priced too! They’ll also create and deliver bespoke courses for your organisation too.

Cons: Quite a specific set of course topics, so it depends what you’re looking for.


·  Personal & Professional Development

·  Health & Safety

·  Health & Social Care

·  Food and Drink

·  Safeguarding

·  Leadership & Development

·  Business Compliance

·  Pocketbooks

·  Social Housing

7.   Skill Share

Skillshare is another collaborative and community-based platform which allows creators to produce and share their creativity and skills.

Pros: If you’re looking to up-skill in a specific creative area there’s loads of awesome training available, created by experts. You can get a 7-day free trial to test out the courses to see if they’re for you.

Cons: You have to have a premium account to access the content and full courses.


·  Animation

·  Creative Writing

·  Film & Video

·  Fine Art

·  Graphic Design

·  Illustration

·  Music

·  Photography

·  UI/ UX Design

·  Web Development

·  Business Analytics

·  Freelance & Entrepreneurship

·  Leadership & Management

·  Marketing

·  Lifestyle

·  Productivity

8.   General Assembly

General Assembly pride themselves on pioneering more experiential style learning and they typically delivery on-campus courses all over the world.

Pros: Their offerings range from long-form, full-time courses, to one-off online sessions, many of which are for free!

Cons: Some of their courses are only available at specific locations, although they have a lot more online offerings recently.


·  Coding

·  Data

·  Design

·  Digital Marketing

·  Business

·  Career Development

9.   Code Academy

If you’ve always wanted to learn to code or would just love to know the basics then Code Academy is a great starting point which you can use for free.

Pros: This learning platform has developed massively from basic HTML tutorials to now including all sorts of fantastic tech training such as a Machine Learning and Game Development!

Cons: To get the most out of this learning platforms it’s $20 a month, which is a steep investment for some, so you’ve got to be committed.

·  Web Development

·  Data Science

·  Computer Science

·  Developer Tools

·  Machine Learning

·  Code Foundations

·  Web Design

·  Game Development

·  Mobile Development

·  Data Visualisation

10. Coursera

Coursera is a huge online learning platform on which you can even get a degree! They work with hundreds of companies and universities to provide the best quality courses in all sorts of formats and lengths.

Pros: There are hundreds of free courses, ‘Guided Projects’ are short 2-hour training sessions that help you with tools you might need to work with day to day. They also offer specialisations, Professional Certificates and even modules from Masters Degrees. A very comprehensive platform!

Cons: If you fancy a certificate for your free courses you’ll have to pay to upgrade, similar to Future Learn.


·  Arts & Humanities

·  Business

·  Computer Science

·  Data Science

·  Information Technology

·  Health

·  Math & Logic

·  Personal Development

·  Physical Science & Engineering

·  Social Sciences

11. LinkedIn Learning

Since acquitting Lynda back in 2015, LinkedIn Learning offers over 16,000 courses on its platform! There’s a lot to choose from across loads of topics and areas, however, you have to pay monthly to access all the courses rather than choosing the ones you’re interested in.

Pros: So many different courses and topics to choose from.

Cons: It’s quite expensive, $30 a month.


·  3D + Animation

·  Audio + Music

·  Business

·  CAD

·  Design

·  Developer

·  Education + E-Learning

·  IT

·  Marketing

·  Photography

·  Video

·  Web

There’s literally something in one of those sites for everyone. Enjoy browsing and make the most of your downtime by skilling up and learning something new!

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