Become a lifelong learner with these five top online learning course providers

Looking to extend your knowledge, skills and qualifications? Here are five top online learning course providers for lifelong learning. 

Online learning and courses have become more popular, as more people seek ways to fit learning into their busy schedules. It’s a great way to boost your CV, learn something new or update an existing qualification.

It’s also perfect for demonstrating a number of key qualities potential clients and employers look for: you’re dedicated to your field, interested in self-improvement and development, knowledgeable and up-to-date about qualifications in your industry.

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Five top online learning course providers

There are plenty of different online organisations and companies offering free, fully or part funded courses that can be done online and at your own pace. It can be tricky to know where to start or which site is best for you.

Here are the top five I tap into when I’ve got a subject in mind I want to know more about, or interested in finding something new.

1) FutureLearn

FutureLearn launched a few years ago and is an extension of The Open University. It’s working in collaboration with universities worldwide to provide free online courses that can be undertaken at home and at the learner’s own pace.

It has a wealth of courses available – from introductory to more intermediate ones – and there’s something for everyone, whether you want something that relates to your career or a more general personal interest.

They’ve recently introduced ‘programmes’ of learning, where you can sign up for 4-6 courses that all relate to a specific field. By doing this you build your knowledge bit by bit, and there’s the opportunity to pay an additional fee and grab yourself a recognised certificate of your studies.

Click here to learn more about Future Learn

2) Vision2Learn

Vision2Learn offers more vocational online courses that are sector specific – usually NVQ or NCFE Level 1 & 2. Their list of courses is growing and although there is some criteria learners will need to meet, all of their courses are free to learners aged 19+ (regardless of whether you’re employed/unemployed/claiming benefits or not).

All their courses pair you up with an established college, where you’ll be required to submit assessments online and receive feedback from a fully qualified, specialist tutor. The courses can take anywhere between four weeks to three months depending on the pace you take.

On successful completion, all learners are provided with a certificate of completion and pass. Topics include basic IT, Equality & Diversity and Lean Management Techniques – not too bad if you’re just starting out your own business and want some new credentials to your name!

Click here to learn more about Vision2learn

3) Coursera

Coursera is one of the more established sites when it comes to online learning. Similar to FutureLearn they have short courses and modules that you can opt to do for free, or pay a small fee and gain a certificate on completion of the course.

The great thing about Coursera is you don’t have to decide at the start – you can enrol on the course and get full access and if at the end you feel it would benefit you to get recognised for your studies, you can purchase a certificate.

Also similar to FutureLearn is their courses are all linked to a well established university and delivered by professional lecturers or individuals in the related field – it’s a mixture of reading, videos, and short assessments and each course comes with further study and reading material.

Click here to find out more about Coursera

4) Workers Association of Education

The WAE offer a full range of part time courses for employed and unemployed adult learners. Founded in 1903, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is a charity and the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, delivering 9,500 part-time courses for over 74,000 people each year in England and Scotland.

All of their courses are available for online registration and they also run face-to-face training, you don’t need any previous qualifications or knowledge to join most of their courses. It’s worth looking on their website for a full list of available training and to find out your nearest centre.

Click here to learn more about them

5) Talented Ladies Club

I couldn’t write this list without mentioning Talented Ladies Club and the great insightful courses they offer for freelancers and business owners. With everything you need to get started, motivated or boost your business it’s well worth having a browse through the course selection which includes social media support for Twitter and LinkedIn.

All the courses offered are extremely competitively priced, and it’s great to have the resources available from a site that you know understands where you’re coming from and what you’re trying to achieve.

Have a browse through what’s available here

See where lifelong learning can take you

I find when starting out with online learning, it’s a great idea to know what you want to achieve before enrolling – that way you’ll feel more motivated and stick with it!

Conduct a skills assessment and try to pinpoint any gaps in your knowledge you’d like to brush up and that will add value to your work or business. Make a start with those and see where lifelong learning could take you.

Elaine Mead is a passionate education and careers consultant, and is particularly interested in empowering young women to be their professional best. You can follow her on Twitter and read more of her articles on medium.