You don’t need to feel pressured to use this time at home to improve yourself. As Glennon Doyle says, we are all mourning our former lives right now in a grief cocoon. However, in case you’re bored out of your mind and going stir-crazy, you might as well put some time and maybe even a little money into your self development. From investing to knitting, with pretty much everything in between, here are the best classes you can take from your couch.
Learn Comedy from Judd Apatow
Masterclass lets you learn from the pros, for an annual fee. Study scientific thinking and communication with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, photography with Annie Leibovitz, basketball with Stephen Curry, creativity and leadership with Anna Wintour, makeup with Bobbie Brown, Texas-style BBQ with Aaron Franklin, singing with Christina Aguilera, creative writing with Margaret Atwood, cooking with Gordon Ramsay, storytelling and humor with David Sedaris, acting with Natalie Portman, and more.
Masterclass has courses on culinary arts, design, photography, and fashion; lifestyle; film and TV; music and entertainment; business, politics and society; science and technology; sports and games, and writing. Each of the more than 80 classes has around 20 lessons in it, which last about 10 minutes each. Browse classes and watch the trailer for free—some even have a free sample. At the time of this writing, Masterclass is offering buy one, get one free memberships at half off, which shakes out to $180 a year. Split it with a friend or give the extra membership as a gift.
Learn skills from the top instructors at world-class universities and companies for free on Coursera. Coursera’s learning programs include guided projects, which let you learn a job-relevant skill in under two hours; online courses; specialization certificates where you can master a specific career skill; and professional certificates to kickstart a new career. You can even earn a degree!
Hundreds of free courses are available on a wide variety of subjects, including arts and humanities, business, computer science, data science, information technology, health, math and logic, personal development, physical science and engineering, social sciences, and language learning. Have you always wanted to be your own boss? How about a course in entrepreneurship? Always wanted to play on stage? Learn how to produce your own music and launch your music career with The DIY Musician. Courses include video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. The only thing you have to pay for is the certificate if you want to prove you took the course, which is usually like $40.
These are real college courses. For example, Social Psychology offered by Wesleyan University takes approximately 39 hours to complete. They suggest you take it over six weeks, at four to six hours a week plus a break in the middle. You can read all about the course, preview the syllabus, and review reviews before enrolling.
Find more massive open online courses, or MOOCs, here:
There is an art and technique behind the legibility, readability, and appeal of the written word. Learn all about the arrangement of type with Butterick’s Practical Typography 2nd ed. The online textbook by writer, typographer, programmer, and lawyer Matthew Butterick offers a crash course in everything font-related. For instance, did you know that adjusting the space between pairs of letters is called kerning?
Groupon offers a ton of discounted online classes, like the Online American Sign Language Course from International Open Academy. Online learning courses range from health and fitness to web and app development. They even have pet care courses that teach you how to groom your dog!
Learn a New Language
Even if you’re not leaving the country any time soon, learning a few words and phrases in a new language can be fun. The Duolingo app touts itself as the “best new way to learn a language” and its free. Duolingo offers some languages that other online learning platforms don’t, such as Swahili, Klingon, Hungarian, and Navajo.
Rosetta Stone can make you fluent in Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, German, English, Arabic, Chinese, Mandarin, Dutch, English, British, Filipino, Tagalog Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Brazil, Russian, Spanish (Spain), Swedish, and Turkish. Start with the three day trial to see if you like their learning methods. Then, get unlimited access to all the languages for just under 300 bucks, or select a plan starting around $12 a month.
Learn Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and/or Turkish with Babbel. The top-selling language learning app uses science-backed learning methodologies, including communicative didactics, cognitivism, behaviorism, and constructivism, to teach language. It’s also a little cheaper than Rosetta Stone, with plans starting at $6.95/month.
How to Play the Ukulele
Not only does playing music reduce anxiety and depression, but learning to play an instrument stimulates the brain, gives you a sense of achievement, builds confidence, improves patience, increases discipline and time management skills, and makes you more creative. Plus, it’s fun! The Yousician app can teach you how to play acoustic or electric guitar, bass, piano, ukulele, or even how to sing. Learn step-by-step through the app’s exercises, workouts, and lessons. It even has a handy dandy built-in tuner.
Nowadays, this in-demand skill is taught in elementary schools, but for those of us who may have missed the coding boat, there’s Codecademy. Learn everything from how to build a website to how to analyze data—no experience required.
Code with Google offers practical computer science programs, but is more self-directed.
Learn how to create digital art on your iPad using Procreate. Udemy’s Procreate course teaches you how to use the app to draw, sketch, paint, and design. Udemy offers a wealth of online courses. Categories include development, business, finance and accounting, IT and software, office productivity, personal development, design, marketing, lifestyle, photography, health and fitness, music, and teaching and academics.
If you’re interested in learning how to letter, check out The Procreate Class: Beginner Basics + Beyond taught by lettering artist, crafter, and designer Kiley Bennett on Skillshare. Skillshare is a paid platform that costs $99/year, but they usually have a generous trial period and there are some free classes available. It’s the best place to go for creative classes—just check out these Classes for Getting Creative Indoors—but they also offer courses in business, technology, and lifestyle.
Instructables also offers great crafting courses. In addition to knitting instructions, the website offers all kinds of step-by-step how-to’s for makers of all walks of life. Classes range from 3D printing to learning how to make freshly baked bread.
How to Start Investing in Stocks
If you’re anything like me, you think the stock market is gambling for rich folks. In truth, investing is how the rich folks stay rich, by making their money work for them. Learn the basics of investing with Investopedia and Investopedia Academy. The first step, according to How to Start Investing in Stocks: A Beginner’s Guide, is determining which kind of investor you’d like to be: hands-on, or “set it and forget it”?
Excel at Excel
You know what they say, lady in the streets, freak in the spreadsheets. Excel can be super frustrating, until you learn how to use it. Master the art of formulas, pivot tables, dashboards, and macros with help from Chandoo.org. There are classes for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users if you’re just looking to up your game.