Enhance a staycation by honing a new skill — and all for free

Looking to leverage some downtime? Whether you’re upskilling your resume or sharpening your entrepreneurial chops, there’s an abundance of free online resources to log on to.

American Express Business Class
The multinational financial-services corporation recently launched this tool, which includes weekly Instagram Live programming dubbed Office Hours (shown right), featuring conversations with small-business owners, and a content hub filled with articles to help people grow their businesses.

“Democratizing this education was critical to us, so we made sure all the Business Class content would be available to anyone — our customers or our competitors,” says Clayton Ruebensaal, an executive vice president at American Express based in the Financial District. “It’s a free resource for any business owner or business people.”

edX
This nonprofit online learning company offers 2,800 courses by 150 of the world’s top universities. You can watch all videos, access readings and take ungraded assessments for as long as it takes to complete the course (usually around six weeks). Non-academic classes are available too.

The paid version of the course grants the ability to earn certification. edX also offers 13 fully online master’s degrees.
Anant Agarwal, CEO and founder of the company, says that “edX just released a survey exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way that Americans think about their future education and career decisions. It found that the pandemic has directly impacted 58 percent of Americans’ decisions to seek additional education. By earning a valuable credential, they will be well prepared for the jobs of the future.”

General Assembly
This global education provider runs classes in high-demand skills like coding, design and data science. There are paid courses of study taken online, such as digital marketing (40 hours, 10 weeks, $3,950), but there are also free workshops and classes.

This week, you can enroll in two-hour Zoom classes such as Monday’s Optimizing Your Resume: The Key to Job Search, and on Thursday take How to Future-Proof Your Business, Latinas in Tech or Career Chat 101: Nail the Interview and Get That Job.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Liz Vollman, vice president of marketing at General Assembly in Flatiron. “During this difficult time, we feel a deep responsibility to make our resources and expertise available to anyone looking to level up in their career or explore a new skill set.”

Duolingo
Brush up your high school español or learn a new language to beef up your resume with the free Duolingo app. English speakers can learn up to 36 different languages, from Swahili to Swedish.

The app’s bite-size lessons feel more like fun games than a brick-and-mortar classroom while still teaching you vocabulary and how to incorporate words into sentences. Users can access tips for explanations about grammar, pronunciation and phrases.

Grow With Google OnAir
In May, Google launched this free digital-skills training program for job seekers and business owners. Typically two courses are offered per week, in more than 20 subject areas, such as analytics and project management. You can also sign up for individual 30-minute coaching sessions with a Google employee. In addition, there are 30- to 60-minute online streaming events. (Past recorded sessions can be viewed in their on-demand section.)

“This global crisis has only increased our reliance on technology,” says Jesse Haines, director of Grow With Google in Chelsea. “Now is the time for people to sharpen digital skills to help them land the jobs they want and grow their businesses.”

Coursera
The happiness course at Yale, officially known as the Science of Well-Being, about how to boost your happiness and build productive habits, was founded in 2012 by two Stanford professors and has more than 2.5 million enrollees.

“It shows that people are extremely interested in having science-backed research and techniques to manage their stress, anxiety and well-being,” says Arunav Sinha, head of global communications at Coursera. “They’re not just looking for a YouTube video.”

The site now offers more than 4,200 courses, typically lasting between two to four weeks, taught by instructors from top universities and leading companies.

FutureLearn
This UK-based social learning platform offers over 3,300 courses taught by university professors and industry leaders, typically lasting between two and eight weeks and requiring three to four hours of study per week.

Short courses operate on an upgrade model — free to join, but learners pay a fee to receive a certificate of achievement. More than 100 short courses offer free upgrades, including professional-development courses from consultancy firm Accenture.

“One of the things our learners enjoy is the ability to develop their skills alongside an international group of learners,” says Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn.

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