These days, you can pretty much find a YouTube video for anything — tiling your shower, cutting a pomegranate and even starting your car without your keys. But when it comes to learning something new, watching a quick video isn’t necessarily going to cut it. Sometimes you have to invest a few hours.
Still, the wealth of tutorial videos on the web means anyone with an internet connection has low-cost (often free) access to education and the ability to learn a limitless number of new things. Here are some of the more interesting or useful things you can learn online.
How to take better pictures. Whether it be capturing your own family’s memorable moments or trying to build your own photography business, learning how to take pictures can be personally satisfying and (possibly) lucrative. Enter SkillShare, an online community of teachers with methodical lessons in almost 9,000 skills. The instructors on the site are really good at what they do and really good at teaching you how to do it. There are also classes on writing, design, business and more.
How to speak another language, or at least a few words or phrases of one. After all, trying to get an A in 10th grade Spanish was hard, but learning the language in bite-size chunks per day is easier — and fun! Check out Duolingo, where you can choose from a number of languages and spend 5 to 20 minutes at a time on a lesson. It’s a great way for you (and your kids) to learn something new and useful. Obviously you can't learn the entire language in
How to play guitar. If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video for beginners learning to play guitar, you know it ain’t easy. But Justin Guitar will get you started in a concrete, methodical way. His lessons are designed for complete beginners and take you step by step through the process of learning to play the guitar. The best part? His lessons are completely free.
How to draw. Isn’t it amazing how the first thing kids do in school is draw a picture? Every preschooler in America spends part of their day holding crayons over a fresh white piece of paper (or your walls). The preschoolers in my house seem to produce a ream of scribbled-on paper from their backpacks every day. Their creativity is practically bursting from their fingertips. So as adults, why don’t we draw more? If you'd like to get back to flexing your artistic muscles, try Drawspace. The site offers dozens of free lessons on everything from how to hold your pencil, drawing the perfect circle and how to use shading and contours to bring your work to life.
How to meditate. There are lots of resources online for people who want to meditate. Though ironically, 60 minutes surfing through your options can be stress-inducing. But you could try this site from UCLA, which will start you off with bite-size guided meditations. And since the information comes from the university, you can trust the source and not worry about some quack offering bogus advice.
How to give a great speech. Who can forget Jerry Seinfeld’s classic line: "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy." Fear no more, friends. If you want to learn how to get up in front a crowd and deliver a speech without throwing up or passing out, online tutorials can help you out. Whether it’s a college-level course or short, digestible tips, there’s something for everyone.
How to garden. Did you know you can take a full college course on gardening online? No SAT or ACT scores or entrance essays about why you would be a good fit for the school required (though there is a somewhat hefty fee). Make your neighbors jealous of your vegetable garden and earn your Master Gardener certificate while you’re at it.
How to fix your car. Or at least diagnose the problem. Getting your car fixed is one of the great equalizers in life. You can be a high school dropout or a billionaire financier, but if your car breaks down on the side of the road, you may be up a creek without a paddle. Any time you step into the car dealership, do you have a sneaky suspicion they are trying to get you to spend an extra $400 you don’t have to? This is what makes AutoEducation, a site where you can learn about the ins and outs of your car and even how to “speak mechanic,” an invaluable resource for any human being with a car.
For more fun skills you can learn online, check this out. Now get to work!