Tops and Bests
8 Learning Apps & Websites To Try This Summer
Screenshot from www.instructables.com
- Get a degree or certification
- Speak a new language
- Make some music
- Learn how to cook (or prepare a ‘potluck’ specialty)
- Master ‘how-to’ fix or make things
Do they sound familiar to you? The first quarter of the year is almost over. Question is, how are we progressing vis-à-vis our new year’s resolutions? For those who have opted to focus on learning more but find that they are off-track, here’s something for you to try. Up skill, create, and be inspired with our list of eight apps and websites that will help you achieve your learning goals this summer… and hopefully, will keep your brain cells happy for the rest of the year:
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, it aims to provide people with access to high quality courses from almost a hundred partners. Most of these are universities who top the QS World University Rankings ® and are leaders in a wide range of disciplines. From Arts and Humanities to Zoology, you can find a field of study that matches your interest, profession and curiosity. As the only MOOC* provider that is nonprofit and open source**, it allows for educators to build tools that help shape the platform in the name of ‘education exchange’.
Top universities are joining forces to bring portions of their curriculum closer to the people through edX. (Screenshot from edX)
They say that people who are passionate about something are the most generous when it comes to sharing their knowledge to others. Skillshare is a platform for expert practitioners who want to share their skills and for people who want to learn how to do different things a.k.a. anything and everything under the sun. The app has an offline feature so you can access any of its 14,000 classes on design, culinary, business, tech, photography, film, writing & crafts at your own pace.
Learn from ‘expert practitioners’ or teach via Skillshare if you’re one of them. (Screenshot from Skillshare)
Search for ‘language learning apps’ and Duolingo will probably come on top of the list. They’ve improved a lot of things and added new features to amplify its gamified learning interface. Their exercises on Spanish, French, German, Italian and other languages are delivered in bite-sized segments. I personally practice while waiting for my Uber ride! For the competitive learners, set a goal for yourself and your friends and see who tops the leaderboard each week. It might not be the recommended method if you’re aiming for a formal language certification but it gives you a good start.
“You are correct!” Instant gratification from Duolingo
Like Duolingo, Busuu offers bite-sized exercises and lessons that you can practice anytime. It also connects you to other users (real-life native speakers) so you can find ways to modify sentences for a variety of contexts. It claims that 22.5 hours of language study using this app is equivalent to one semester’s worth of study. Thinking of proving that wrong? Might as well download that app and see for yourself. There’s no harm in learning a new language and it’s especially convenient and never boring with its mixed-method format. Plus, you’ll get to learn some expressions and impress the locals when you travel to different countries, too.
My German lessons in action (Screenshot from Busuu)
Have you ever ‘tried’ to learn how to play an instrument… and failed? Chris and Mikko, the founders of Yousician, share this sentiment. Read more about their story here. This is exactly the reason why they created a game called Wild Chords in 2011, followed by another game named Guitar Bots in 2012, and eventually Yousician in 2014. From what initially was a tool for music teachers to keep their students motivated in their music practice, it has now evolved into a community of music lovers, teachers and learners who upload content (i.e. exercises, compositions, playlists) for other users. With more than 20,000 exercises to choose from, you’ll never run out of reasons to NOT practice those chords.
Screenshot from Yousician
Ever wanted to attend workshops but never found a good schedule? Not a fan of scripted or pre-recorded tutorials? If you answered YES to any of these, this website/app is for you. This website allows for you to take advantage of instructional videos, mostly for creative pursuits, with an option to take classes LIVE. Think ‘webinar’ format but done tastefully. Have a look at their classes that are on-air now or check out their upcoming classes and get a calendar reminder so you won’t have any excuse to miss it.
Screenshot from Creative Live
Screenshot from Instructables
There are a number of ways to learn. And sometimes, you just need steps and instructions on ‘how to’ do something. Whether it’s a DIY barbeque set or handmade jewelry, trust that Instructables and its visually stimulating user-created content will give you instructions and guide you every step of the way.
Ever dreamt of becoming a Masterchef? Ever wished you had that one dish as THE star of potluck dinners? A free account with Chefsteps gives you access to recipes and culinary preparation videos while a ‘one-time payment’ premium account gets you all the good parts. You might fancy their shop for supplies and tools (check out their cool Joule). If you haven’t heard of sous vide, check out this site to learn about it and other cool kitchen hacks.
Screenshot from Chefsteps
Who says summer is the only time for learning new things? And who says you need to spend so you can learn a new skill or technique? The internet has provided for hundreds (or even thousands) of platforms that allow for greater access to material for free or for a minimal fee. The best part is, these learning apps and websites allow us to dip our toes on areas of interest that might turn out to be a potential new hobby. If we’re lucky, we end up with a renewed passion for something or we find out about our hidden talent, which ultimately will help us in our journey of self-discovery. It’s not too late to join the graduation bandwagon. Take a look at these apps. Who knows, this might be another achievement unlocked!