Free online courses for self learning: Harvard-approved strategies to basic computer programming

Free online courses for self learning: Harvard-approved strategies to basic computer programming

Hustle from home

Text: Annabelle Teo

You've baked the sourdough and banana bread, mastered Dalgona coffee, and watched enough TikTok videos to make your head spin. Now what?

While we're all for doing fun — at times, mindless things to ease some of the anxiety that might be swirling around, if you're looking to kill some time on something of the intellectual variety, we say try taking an online course.

Massive open online courses, commonly known as MOOC, have been around since 2008, and they are designed for unlimited participation and access via the Internet. Most offer free courses across a wide variety of topics, in addition to ones that you can pay for to receive certificates of completion. The validity of these accreditations are not universally recognised though, so our recommendations are purely for ones you don't have to fork over a cent for.

Think of it as a chance to pursue a bit of personal development — sating your curiosity in a subject you've always wanted to know more about, potentially sparking off a new hobby, or perhaps just for the mood and confidence boost that comes with learning something new.


One of the leading online learning providers, Coursera has a partner list of over 200 of the world's top universities and industry educators. It offers hundreds of free courses over a diverse range of topics including business management, IT, language learning and personal development. Courses are designed to be completed over 4-6 weeks at your own pace, and are usually made up of video lectures, reading materials, and some coursework including quizzes and peer-reviewed assignments.

Try these:

Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success
Programming for Everybody
The Science of Well-Being


Founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012, the majority of courses on edX are centred on computer science, but with thousands of programmes in its stable, there's plenty of other well-produced content whether you're interested in the arts, communication, or management. As a global non-profit, edX was created to make education accessible, and is true to its promise by offering something for learners at different stages, brought to you in collaboration with world-renowned partner institutions including University of Oxford, Princeton University, and National University of Singapore.


Try these:

Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science
Re-imagine Work: Strategies During COVID-19 and Beyond
The Science of Happiness


Founded in 2012 and jointly owned by The Open University and the SEEK Group, FutureLearn offers a diverse selection of courses in partnership with leading universities and cultural institutions around the world. The site is easy to navigate,  and in addition to the staple business-related and science courses that most providers offer, FutureLearn also has an great selection of humanities and personal development topics that delves into a variety of specific interests like songwriting, filmmaking, or even the history of book printing.

Future Learn

Try these:

Start Writing Fiction
Collaborative Working in a Remote Team
Food and Mood: Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition

Khan Academy

With a mission to "provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere", Khan Academy is a non-profit educational platform that focuses on math, science, grammar and history. Besides having a team of content experts, they've also partnered with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, and MIT to produce specialised content. While their offering is geared toward serving teachers and students from kindergarten through to college, everything is up for free and is an approachable way to revisit subjects that you might have an interest in, through content that is easy to digest.

Khan academy

Try these:

Art history
Basic computer programming


As a global education marketplace, Udemy believes that the best teachers aren't necessarily just found in classrooms. As such, their content isn't driven so much by colleges and universities, but rather serves as a platform for those interested to teach subjects in their field of expertise, to create their own courses. This equates to a truly diverse range of topics (you can learn to sing or bake), though the downside is that the quality of some courses can be questionable. Luckily, it's all free. It serves as a handy, low-commitment resource where you can possibly find a new hobby or learn about a topic you've always been curious about.

Try these:

Best Practices for Working Remotely
Free Taster: The World of Wine with Jancis Robinson
Hyperthinking: Improve your day to day learning and creativity