The COVID-19 pandemic has been tragic, disrupting and altering everyday life on a global scale. Beyond the obvious threat to our health and wellbeing, there were countless social, economic and interpersonal challenges that became part of everyday life.
However, one of the biggest silver linings to come out of this unforeseen, once-in-a-lifetime event is the acceleration of access to online learning. With the entire world forced indoors, universities, community colleges and internet-startups alike all had to adapt and construct new methods of e-learning. These platforms have only grown since 2020, and now provide older adults countless opportunities to learn new skills, earn degrees and turn their spare time into useful knowledge.
According to a 2021 article by ThinkImpact, which aggregated e-learning studies done by several different organizations, the rapid growth of online learning is already paying dividends for people of all ages:
- E-learning helped students retain between 25% and 60% more information
- Nearly half of all students felt online learning was as effective as face-to-face interaction
- Since 2020, 98% of universities now offer online classes
- Since 2020, it is believed that 98% of corporate learning will take place online, with 67% of companies offering courses via mobile devices
These figures show an encouraging path for older adults who aren’t current students but wish to learn something new. With so many options to choose from, it’s just a matter of figuring out your budget (there are many options that are free of charge), deciding how much time you want to dedicate to e-learning and picking a course! Here are a few of our favorite online learning sites for older adults:
There are thousands of classes to broaden your horizons on Senior Planet. They have designed courses specifically in mind for those over the age of 60, focused on five impact areas: social engagement, financial security, health and wellness, civic engagement and advocacy, and creativity. Some examples of their introductory courses include “Digital Storytelling”, “Etsy for Entrepreneurs”, “Ready, Set, Bank” and “Fitness Essentials.” The best part? Live classes are free for anyone to enroll!
This online community connects users with others to learn new skills and unlock new life experiences. Their content is focused on adults over the age of 55, now reaching four million learners in over 160 countries. They offer live classes taught by peers who are experts in their fields, social hours, and special events with speakers who directly address areas of interest to older adults. Classes range from fitness to healthcare, drawing, foreign language, cooking, music, business and more. They offer a free plan with limited access, or for $19.99 per month you can have access to their entire library and over 500 live interactive classes every week!
Are you a tech-savvy person, interested in the world of entertainment, videography, media, gaming, visual arts and communications? Check out Full Sail University. One of the world’s leading creative arts schools, Full Sail focuses on creating real-world industry experience and creative problem solving with online degree programs. It’s easy to fit in your course schedule with your existing life, because they offer 24/7 flexibility with your e-learning plan.
Founded on the belief that “every day you learn something new is a good day,” One Day University has established a unique angle in the online learning space. They have gathered a group of the most thoughtful and entertaining professors from the country’s most prestigious universities and asked them to provide their single most fascinating lecture. You can listen to live-streamed talks with these professors, access hundreds of these “best-selected lectures” and participate in small group discussions with peers. There is a free limited-trial, but you will eventually have to pay $8.99 per month for access.
Whether you are looking for a certificate, a bachelor’s degree, or even a doctorate, Academic Earth has the lessons to get you on your path to more knowledge. They’ve been around since 2009, offering free online college courses from the world’s top universities. Explore more than 60 complete courses in art, business, engineering, humanities, medicine, science, math and more!
If you are just looking to dip your toe in the water with e-learning, don’t sleep on the thousands of global instructors on YouTube. What started out as a place for videos focused on entertainment, music and gaming has now become a professional hub for lessons on any topic you can imagine. You can also explore thousands of the free apps available for download to your phone, like Duolingo, PictureThis and Brainly.