12 Educational Resources Available for Free during Coronavirus Quarantine

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Student Lifehacks
empty schools and universities on quarantine

The pandemic crisis has hit every single one of us. However optimistic lookouts we might hold, in the coming months, our lives will not go back to “normal,” if ever. With the quarantine measures, all educational processes and college studies have drastically changed.

Not only our professors and we are getting used to having courses online, but all students and academics are locked out of the resources usually available at their universities and libraries. In conjunction with stress, fear, household chores, and babysitting, it is difficult to maintain any continuity in our habits and study routines. 

Many platforms and publishers opened their resources for free due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additional online courses can support your education process; platforms like Zoom and Adobe are there to ensure the continuity of your seminars; online libraries opened their virtual doors for you to access tons of books and academic articles; you can keep on buying or renting your textbooks with BooksRun. Here we have listed some of the educational resources that are now online and available for free during quarantine. These are not track-specific and can be useful for any specialization.

However, we advise you NOT to embark on a new Ivy-League course, to read all those free books, or to pick up several new hobbies. Why? A humanitarian catastrophe that touched every country and state might not be “the right time” to thrive for the best version of yourself and embark on a hyper-productivity road. Although many of us ended up with a few extra hours on our hands saved on commuting, do not feel any pressure to use them “productively.” First things first: take care of your mental health and well-being.

studying from home during quarantine with free educational resources
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Here you find a collection of educational resources and courses that might help you to keep on with your studies throughout this challenging period. I am sure you don’t need much advice on figuring out how to fill your leisure time: throw a Netflix party with your friends, call distant relatives, declutter, find neighbor-friendly fitness exercises, go on a virtual museum tour, bake bread or binge-watch series. 

When it comes, however, to taking new learning courses, achieving new productivity horizons, or starting ten new habits next week, think twice. Do you actually need that course on Fundamentals of Neuroscience if your major is in English Literature? Do you need to read all the books from Bill Gates’ reading list if you can get them for free? Use your resources wisely (that is, your time, concentration, willpower, and emotional intelligence). Even if not noticing, we rely on them a lot to stay mentally healthy and remain connected, though at a distance, to our loved ones.

1. National Emergency Library 

This library was put up by archive.org, one of the biggest repositories of digitized books. Behind this link, there are around 1.5 million texts available. You can check online or borrow books from this collection without any waiting lists (you only need a user account). Check the FAQ to know more about this initiative and how to use the books. It is an essential resource for accessing secondary literature needed for your courses or final essays.

2. EdX courses from Harvard 

Harvard has an enormous variety of open online courses, and now their collection is even more significant, encompassing more than thirty subjects. If you are thrilled to start learning something new or you are in the process of shifting your specialization — go for it! It could be more useful to choose a slow-paced course related to your college study track. 

3. Catalogs of Free Courses

Not only Harvard offers its courses online but a bunch of other universities—including Ivy League schools—do it, too. All the courses are scattered around different platforms. These are two lists from Open Culture and Class Central that bring all the open online courses together and categorize them by subject and enrolment dates. Most of the courses have flexible starting dates, and some will start in a few weeks! If you choose to enroll in a class or two, make sure you make a real commitment and understand why you need this knowledge right now.

4. Free Language Courses

Open Culture did a fantastic job gathering a list of free resources for 48 languages! You can choose from podcasts, apps, and other educational materials that are essential for language learning. It will be a great help if your language classes are currently on hold, but you still want to practice more in the meantime. But don’t lure yourself into the illusion that now you have enough time to start learning ten new languages. First, dedicate time to what you’ve already started learning and enjoy all the advantages of learning a foreign language with these fun resources.

5. The Open University

Here you find a plethora of free introductory courses on any subject, from Physics to Ancient History. It is an excellent supplementary resource for your learning. But it’s even better than this—the Open University has elementary-level courses suitable for those in high schools. With these classes, you will keep your younger siblings edutained and busy (so that you can carve out time for your own studies).

6. Open Library

Here are a bunch of e-books that are free to borrow—the collection is so enormous that it can satisfy any taste. This service has always been there, and always for free. Still, when most of us are self-isolating, access to good literature is needed more than ever.

free educational resources available online
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7. Audible and Audible Stories 

No, no one can use Audible without a monthly subscription. You can only get a 30-day trial period if you haven’t used that already.

But Audible Stories is another “story” (indeed): the platform has opened their collection of children’s stories and classics while schools are closed. It will help you entertain your younger family members, but who wouldn’t join listening to Harry Potter? Audible Stories also offers a section of classics, if you’re into the more serious stuff. You can listen to these audiobooks from any device; no registration is needed. If you’re learning Spanish, German, French, Italian, or Chinese, listening to these stories is a great way to practice comprehension. In any case, it’s a great resource to let your mind wander through wondrous worlds of literature.

8. Khanacademy 

Open free courses and school lessons might not be a resource for you… but for your younger siblings. So share the information with those who would benefit from it. Khanacademy prepares daily schedules for every school year to keep the learning process going even when the schools do not operate. Another excellent resource for children missing out on their school lessons is Generation Genius, offering short, exciting videos about science.

9. Skillshare

Now Skillshare offers its premium subscription for two months to its new customers. Check it out if you haven’t yet explored this platform offering custom-made lessons on a variety of activities. Skillshare will bring your hobby to a new level, or you can find something new that inspires you and will help to get by in these times. There are also more professional courses in Graphic Design or Creative Writing. Learning how to paint with thread, make the best chocolate cookies ever, or do video editing tricks from other practitioners is fascinating and fun! 

10. E-Books from Local Libraries

Check the websites of your local libraries: many of them have made their digital collections available, especially for periodicals and older books out of copyright restrictions. Some libraries, like New York Public Library, have suspended the waiting lists. That means that you can get an e-book from their collection without much waiting time (but of course, you should be a member of that library). 

If you don’t have a member’s card, you can try to get access to your local libraries’ digital collections with this convenient app Libby.   

11. Verso Books 

This independent publisher, mostly specializing in books on political and social theory, has offered six e-books for free. Moreover, many items in their fascinating collection are now discounted.

12. Academic Publishers

If you need access to scholarly literature (articles, collective volumes, reviews, etc.), first check your college’s instructions. Commonly, you will be able to access a digital collection of your university library via a VPN (ask the IT department for directions if you can’t figure it out). 

Moreover, academic platforms like JSTOR or MUSE have partially opened their collections for free as long as you have an affiliation with a university. Several publishers (e.g., University of Michigan Press) also made their e-books free to read. So have your university credentials at hand when browsing these websites in search of articles in your field.

These platforms are crucial for plunging into specialized literature: you will need them for exam preps and your final papers. 

We will try to keep the list up-to-date. Contact us if you want to share with other BooksRunners some of the resources that you’ve found helpful!

a woman studying from home during quarantine
Photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash

Study at home. Stay safe!

Iliana K