Virtual Learning for Seniors – A Look at the Options

Jul 22, 2020
Woman using a lap top computer to take a course

Perhaps never before have so many people had so much time on their hands. For seniors who have retired, this is especially true. If time is weighing heavy on you, perhaps now is a good time to consider lifelong learning via the internet. No matter your interest, curiosity or background, there is always more to learn through the many online portals offering free and/or for-credit college classes or other sessions to gain new skills and knowledge. Whether just for the joy of learning or to get that degree you always wanted, the sky is the limit. Here are some of the top websites to get you started.

Top Virtual Learning Websites

One of the largest platforms for access to formal virtual classes is edX, with more than 20 million students learning from 140 renowned universities and businesses across the globe. From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Harvard to Sorbonne Université to Imperial College London, more than 2,500 classes are available to choose from in programs as diverse as data science, basic Spanish and sustainable tourism. Many classes offer the opportunity to audit for free or pay tuition and earn credits, certificates and degrees.

Harvard University also offers many free online classes on its website spanning timely topics like American politics and foreign policy, as well as world literature and the sciences. You can search by subject, college, start date, duration, and difficulty and choose just the right class to fit your desires. is another platform that is free to join and offers more than 4,500 online classes in cooperation with 213 education and business partners in 50 countries. Diverse degrees and certificates are available, as well as professional certifications. For an idea of the variety of opportunities, browse the catalog and set your course for new knowledge.

1500 Free Online Courses

Another great way to find classes that interest you is through which is a clearinghouse for 1,500 free online classes. Choices run the gamut from archelogy to physics to writing, and lectures by such names as Carl Sagan, Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison are also offered. Again, many of the world’s most distinguished universities are the class providers so even if you don’t want to pay for credit, you can still enjoy a top-notch educational experience.

List of Online Courses

For more practical topics,’s blog “22 Free Online Courses for Senior Citizens (Updated 2020)” looks at a variety of learning sites for seniors, including offerings from companies to help navigate retirement, upgrade computer skills, begin a blog, and improve health. For those interested in developing their inner artist, the blog lists drawing and painting class options, music appreciation and more.

Curated Course Playlist

Academic Earth is another clearinghouse of classes from institutions of higher learning and business and includes a list of free online classes and lectures. The site also provides a “Playlist” page that offers “curated playlists from Academic Earth’s most interesting online courses.” These are just a few of the 1,500+ videos (with new ones added daily) from MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

Learn a New Language

If you want to learn a new language, the BBC offers a great website to begin for free. Each of the 40 languages offered has its own web page with tips, phrases and downloads. You can quickly learn the basics, social phrases and phrases for special occasions as well as language facts, and more.

TedTalks for Seniors

For a daily dose of intriguing information from some of the best minds in the world, sign up for TedTalks or just browse the website for videos that will make you think, wonder and yearn for more. For example, enjoy, “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” with Robert Waldinger, director of the 75-year old study on adult development, or “Brain magic” with Keith Barry who shows how our minds can trick our bodies. No matter what subject you desire, there’s likely a TedTalk from an insightful expert just waiting for you. And if you come up empty, wait a day or two and check back for the latest additions.

YouTube Learning Channels

Last but certainly not least, try one of the YouTube learning channels like VsauceSmarterEveryDay, and Crash Course for a wide variety of learning experiences. Of course, YouTube is the mothership for all things video so when you suddenly need to know how to make the perfect hollandaise sauce, brush up on your knot tying skills or learn to line dance, it’s all there, 24/7 and free for the taking.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” There really is no time like our new present to embrace learning. It will enrich your life, keep your mind active and give you a sense of accomplishment!

For information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

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