14 Ways to Learn in 2014

14-ways-to-learnThis marks the fifth year that I’ve collected exciting ways to learn online. The human drive to create, innovate and teach never ceases to amaze me. You may also find ideas here for designing your own learning experiences. I hope you enjoy this year’s picks!


1. Learn to Code

code-academyIf you hit walls because you don’t know how to code, check out Code Academy, where you can learn interactively for free. Once you learn a simple scripting language, like HTML, and how to style it with CSS, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. If you study JavaScript, you can make websites interactive. Also check out the resources listed at Mozilla Developer Network. For an innovative approach to learning, see The Code Player, where you’ll find videos of code walkthroughs showing how various web objects are made.

2. Become A Film Connoisseur

full-moviesThere are more free films that you can watch online than you might think. There are several lists that reference YouTube’s full length films, including this one from Reddit and this playlist: Full Movies. You can also check out the Feature Films at the Internet Archives.

3. Read or Listen to Free Books

free-ebooksYou now have plenty of ways to access free books, especially if you download the Kindle App, which runs on most computers and devices. Then see the Kindle Free Popular Classics section and free Kindle books listings, often from new and upcoming authors. Podio Books provides audio books for free, no registration required. You can tip the author if you choose.

You may also be able to participate in the Open Library Project if you live in the US and your library is a member. If you know of an open library project in another country, please share it in the Comments section. Finally, check out Project Gutenberg.

4. Experience an Orchestra Up Close

orchestraYou will enjoy one of the more brilliant online experiences as you watch the London Symphony Orchestra play Bolero. The site is rich with layered content. You can watch four sections at once, explore all of the instruments and even take a master class. An amazing example of compelling online learning.

5. Appreciate Old Radio

radio-showsThey say that old-time radio shows are good for the imagination. You can listen to the dramas or comedies and picture the scenes. One way or the other, listening to these old shows is a little like entering a time machine. You’ll find a good selection at RadioLovers. You can also find old radio shows, categorized by Comedy, Detective and Drama, at dumb.com.

6. Stretch Your Brain Power

mind-puzzlesDo you love mental challenges? Here are some of the most recommended sites for finding brain teasers and puzzles. MindCipher boasts that it is a repository of the world’s best brain teasers. This site has a large word-cloud of tags for choosing puzzle types. At puzzls.com, you’ll find logic, science, math and puzzling puzzles rated by level of difficulty. Also check out Braingle. In addition to brain teasers and puzzles, they offer optical illusions, online scavenger hunts and code breaking fun.

7. Learn about Environmental Disasters

environmentCounterspill promotes awareness of the impact of non-renewable energy disasters around the world in the past 100 years. This interactive website works through a timeline and a map for selecting events. Then content is presented through photographs, video and text. The effect of showing all the disasters in one place is chilling.

8. Subscribe to Newsletters

newslettersThere are many intelligent newsletters, delivered as email, that publish on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. Here are a few that might interest you. The Goodreads Newsletter presents interesting books and author news to members. Brain Pickings provides a weekly “interestingness” digest. Maria Popova, curator extraordinaire, presents articles from the arts, sciences, design, history, and more.

Check out the TED newsletter for an update on the latest TED talks. You can get a daily or weekly subscription. Now I Know sends you a learning tidbit every day. UserFocus offers a monthly newsletter with articles, resources and tutorials on usability and user experience. And if you look for the box in the upper right of this page, The eLearning Coach offers a monthly newsletter with articles and free resources for people who design learning experiences.

9. Explore Space

solar-systemExplore the solar system at Solar System Scope, which is a multilayered interactive website. You can learn about each planet, see it from different perspectives and from other points in time. If you don’t enjoy a short music track in an infinite loop, start with your audio off. You can find other interactive media at NASA and view amazing space photos at the Interactive Universe and Astronomy Picture of the Day.

10. Sketch to Communicate

sketchingSketching is one of the best ways to generate ideas and to communicate them. It’s also good for note taking. You don’t have to be an amazing artist to communicate through sketching. To learn sketching basics, download the sketching exercise lessons at Brain Doodles (listed under Teacher Resources). In addition, Dave Gray has instructions for How to Draw a Stick Figure. As for sketch notes, see Kevin Thorn’s article on Sketch Notes and the videos by Mike Rhode.

11. Take Action for a Better World

take-actionLearn by taking action. It seems that no matter how you want to better the planet, there are ways to participate and tools to make it happen online. Change.org makes it easy to start and sign petitions for any cause. Use PledgeBank to create a community challenge, asking for pledges. Use SupporterWall to collect donations for any project and Postagram to thank supporters. If you want to help others take action to better their lives, consider a giving a microloan at Kiva, which makes loans to people around the world.

12. Study Google’s Research Projects

google-researchGoogle has an extensive research and development initiative on topics related to computer science and engineering. At their research site, you can select a topic and view a list of abstracts, most of which are highly academic. The breadth of research is impressive. For example, under Human-Computer Interaction and Visualization, there are over 200 published papers.

13. Visualize the News

newsmapYou can use these tools to grasp the big picture of the latest events around the world. First, put on your sunglasses and check out NewsMap, which visualizes the changing newsscape from any country and by varied topics. The data is drawn from Google News Aggregator. At the Newseum site, you can select a country and see front pages from around the world. Newser lets you quickly grab the headlines with its visual display of the news. Finally, 10×10 provides a snapshot of the world with its interactive grid of news photos.

14. See How to Cook

cookingI guess the word is spreading that visuals make learning easier. Now there are several recipe sites that present photos with their step-by-step instructions. With these cooking job aids, no one has an excuse for not trying to cook.

Check out PictureTheRecipe, which is small but nicely done. There’s also the more extensive Visual Recipes with recipes from Africa to Vietnam. From the Exploratorium, you’ll find The Science of Cooking, geared to a younger audience but still informative. Visual.ly has 10 visually illustrated recipes, some more usable than others.

Need more ways to learn? See lists from the previous years.

How do you plan to learn this year? Share your favorite sites below.

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  1. TalkShop says

    These are the ways that i love on how to learn 6. Stretch Your Brain Power, 10. Sketch to Communicate and
    14. See How to Cook. Because i love to solve puzzles, i also love to draw even if i am not that good and lastly i enjoy watching cooking show. In these kind of ways i am learning.

  2. Taylor says

    Number 3: Reading or Listen to Free Books. This is an awesome resource that I find many people using and particular some of my students. I teach 3rd grade and continue to look for different ways to have my students listen to reading. If you follow the “Daily 5″ teaching ideals, these free books that can be read to you are excellent resources.

    With that said I would also like to express a website that I love for elementary learners. It’s called http://www.storylineonline.net . This website has books that are read to the children by famous people such as Betty White. They use the pictures from the book in the video. It uses Ken Burns effect to make the book look like it is coming to life. It is a valuable resource for not only elementary education, but parents who want to help their children listen to reading and can’t find the time. Thanks for your eLearning tips, and I hope some of you find this website useful.


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