April 28th, 2019 by GSC Customer Care

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” This inspiring quote from Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) points to the inherent value of learning throughout our lifetimes. While we sometimes associate learning with our school years spent in classrooms, in reality, most people are lifelong learners who gain skills and knowledge from a variety of sources.

Pew Research Center recently released results from a study about lifelong learning. The findings include the following:

  • 73 percent of adults consider themselves lifelong learners.
  • 74 percent of adults are personal learners (those who participate in activities to advance knowledge about something that personally interests them).
  • 63 percent of working adults are professional learners (those who have received training to improve their job skills).1

The study reveals that people get a wide variety of benefits from both personal and professional learning including feeling more capable and well-rounded, making new friends, and expanding their professional networks. It also shows that digital technology plays a notable role in educational endeavors.

Though much learning still takes place in physical locations, there are many sources to help learners of any age pursue an almost endless variety of topics online. Here, we’ve compiled a collection of some of the top resources. For example, check out Funbrain, which makes learning fun for kids with entertaining online games. Stop by TEDEd to find fascinating videos for quick learning sessions. Or explore Khan Academy, with classes for learners at all stages of life.

In addition to these great educational sites, this article also covers study tools, places to explore new careers, and helpful information about new learning trends. We hope you’ll learn something just by reading the following pages. (Don’t worry. There’s no quiz at the end!)

1John B. Horrigan, Pew Research Center, “Lifelong Learning and Technology,” http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/lifelong-learning-and-technology/.

Videos, Games, and Puzzles Make Learning Fun for Kids

Anything that seems like play is fun for kids — even if they end up learning something along the way. These sites provide creative activities to help kids learn the three Rs and so much more.

Funbrain 
funbrain.com
Small children can play while they learn with games designed to teach math, reading, and logic skills; books that parents and kids can read together; and other education-based activities. Resources are colorful and feature animals and other characters that appeal to young learners.

ABCYa
abcya.com 
Using games and apps, this award-winning grade-based site offers hundreds of engaging educational activities for children. Fun categories include letters, numbers, holidays, skills, and strategy. Kids can try the Avian Alphabet, Fraction Fling, Halloween Word Search, or Keyboard Invasion.

e-learning for kids 
e-learningforkids.org
This site is intended to supplement the learning kids do in school. Grade-appropriate topics include math, science, reading, computer skills, health, and language arts, as well as life skills like choosing a career and dealing with bullying.

Education.com
education.com
Parents and teachers can narrow down the many game choices here by choosing grade, subject, and type of activity. Kids can learn about the math topics of addition, counting, geometry, sorting, patterns, and numbers, or the language topics of alphabet, spelling, and phonics. Colorful graphics and kid-friendly narration make learning more fun.

STEM Skills are Critical for the Next Generation

While the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (known in the education field as STEM) is increasing, fewer students are learning the critical skills needed to fill them. This situation has become so dire that President Obama has set clear goals for improving STEM education in the U.S. over the next 10 years. Here are a few resources to help:

NASA for Students 
nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html
Information and activities to help kids of all ages learn about aeronautics and space. eGFI egfi-k12.org Using a fun interface, this site helps readers understand actual careers in STEM fields.

Kinetic City 
kineticcity.com
This site offers fun science experiments, games, activities, challenges, and more.

Exploratorium 
exploratorium.edu/explore
The “explore” section of the Exploratorium Museum website lists science-related activities, apps, blogs, videos, and websites.

Engineer Your Life 
engineeryourlife.org
Women are underrepresented in STEM jobs, so this site helps high school girls explore careers in these fields.

Diverse Learning Sources Take Teens Beyond the Classroom

Online learning sites are great for high school students who need some additional help with tough courses, or who want to learn more about subjects not taught in their local school. The sites below can help in either case, and some can additionally give teens a taste of college coursework.

Open Culture • openculture.com
Open Culture features extensive lists of free cultural and educational media online. Sections include audio books, online courses, certificate courses/massive open online courses (MOOCs), movies, languages, textbooks, and ebooks. You can find online courses in topics as diverse as architecture, history, economics, and literature.

Udacity • udacity.com
The mission of Udacity is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. The site focuses on skills that are currently in demand by employers, and many courses are designed by major technology firms. Free courses are available in programming, machine learning, and front-end web development.

WatchKnowLearn • watchknowlearn.org
This site curates the best online educational videos and makes them available for students, teachers, and parents. Videos are chosen based on suggestions from educators and cover a wide range of topics including language arts, math, science, history, hobbies, and life skills.

TEDEd • ed.ted.com
You’ve heard about TED Talks. Well, what about TED Ed? Education, that is. TED’s education site has mini-lessons in many areas including business and economics; design, engineering, and technology; psychology; and teaching and education. The lessons are brief so you can learn a lot without devoting too much time.

Handy Tools for Teens

Online classes can offer educational opportunities beyond what teens get at school. These online tools can help them get the most out of what they learn and save time doing research:

Google Scholar 
scholar.google.com 
You can use this Google search engine specifically to find articles for research.

Encyclopedia.com
encyclopedia.com
This site provides a collection of online encyclopedias and free access to nearly 200,000 reference entries.

Infoplease 
infoplease.com
A great place to start for any research project, this site has information and resources for a variety of topics.

Library of Congress
loc.gov
This rich source of information can help you find the right sources for projects in history, science, art, politics, and much more.

Dictionary.com
dictionary.com
Find definitions, pronunciations, games, translations, and articles.

Questia 
questia.com/library/free-books 
Users can read over 5,000 public domain books — from authors like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Brontë — for free!

Many Roads Can Lead to College Success

College students now have many options for whether or how to earn their degree, and there are just as many resources to help. Whether you’re going the traditional sitebased route, taking an online direction, or a combination of the two, these sites can help you reach your higher education goals.

Best Online Bachelor’s Programs 
www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors
This comprehensive list of the best online education programs comes from a respected source — U.S. News and World Report — which has been putting out similar rankings for traditional degree programs for many years. Check to see where your selected school falls or start your search here.

Saylor.org 
saylor.org
Saylor Academy is an online learning site with courses available in many areas of study including business administration, professional development, and sociology. The site is not meant to offer degrees, but enables you to work at your own pace to supplement a degree program.

Rate My Professors 
ratemyprofessors.com
Getting to know your prospective professors is key to a good education. This site makes it easy to find instructors you’re considering taking classes from or to rate them yourself. Rankings include helpfulness, clarity, and easiness. Search by school or professor name.

StudyStack
Studystack.com 
Few learning tools are as tried and true as flashcards, and this site lets you use existing decks on a variety of subjects, or create your own. The interface is easy and you can study from anywhere with the StudyStack app. To begin, just create a free account and start creating cards immediately.

The Rise of Gamification
“Gamification” is the use of game-like elements — such as leaderboards, badges, trophies, point systems, and levels — in other areas of life. These elements are showing up in such fields as business and medicine. Educators at all levels are also quickly learning how they can be used to increase student engagement and motivation. Of course, these elements are easily incorporated into online environments but they can be used offline as well.

Instructors can use gamification to encourage slower learners, provide immediate feedback, or simply make the learning process more fun. For example, an instructor could set up a way for students to go through an online learning module, picking up points and bonuses, leveling up, and climbing the leaderboard along the way. A similar concept can be used to encourage behaviors that aren’t strictly academic such as attendance, completing homework, collaboration, or participating in class. Early studies show that gamification can be highly effective, depending on how it’s used and who’s using it.

Numerous Sources for Courses to Keep Learning Alive

Learning doesn’t have to stop at adulthood, and with so many interesting things to study in the world, there’s no reason it should. There are many reasons for continuing education and the sources below can help you pursue any of them.

Academic Earth 
academicearth.org 
Here you can find free online college courses from featured universities including Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. To ensure the course you choose is a good fit, the interface asks for your degree level in addition to your search topic. Choose from courses in art and design, business, engineering, humanities, medicine, and more.

The Open University
openuniversity.edu 
The Open University provides access to a wide variety of courses to learners all over the world, with a commitment to make higher education open to all. The business school is considered one of the best, and the university is known for its high quality research.

Coursera 
coursera.com
Coursera offers universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online. In addition to coursework with prerecorded videos, quizzes, and projects, you can connect with other learners to debate, discuss, and get help. You also get official recognition for your work.

Khan Academy 
khanacademy.org
This extensive site allows students of all ages to learn at their own pace through practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard. Whether you want to brush up on your algebra or learn how to code, you’ll find related learning opportunities here.

Open Yale Courses 
oyc.yale.edu
This site provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The courses are available as video, audio, and text transcriptions of actual lectures recorded in classrooms. Topics range from astronomy to philosophy to English.

FAST FACT: Personalized education can increase content retention and comprehension by as much as 90 percent.2

2Sarah Smith, Tech.Co, “7 Hi-Tech Education Trends to Watch for in 2016,” http://tech.co/7-hi-tech-education-trends-watch-2016-2015-12.

Adding Knowledge to Wisdom: Learning Later in Life

As we age, we develop many skills that make us great students and improve our ability to learn — patience, time to spare, and not being distracted as much by careers or kids. Check out the sites below to start the next phase of your educational journey.

Education for Senior Citizens
seniorresource.com/senioreducation.htm 
One of the first steps in thinking about education during your senior years is finding out where you can go. This site provides a listing of opportunities in each state and notes that some states offer tuition waivers and discounts based on age and number of credits.

Free Online Courses 
seniorplanet.org/learn-all-you-can-free-online-courses
Senior Planet has compiled a list of some of the most interesting online courses for seniors. They include topics such as art, finance, design, and psychology. Not challenging enough? How about “String Theory, Black Holes and the Fundamental Laws of Nature” from Harvard University?

AARP 
aarp.org
Of course, the organization devoted to seniors has something to say about seniors and education. Search the site for “higher education,” and you’ll find a number of articles devoted to learning in later years. Information includes discussion of the costs, the benefits, and the meaning of “third stage education.”

OEDb 
oedb.org
This site enables learners to explore over 10,000 free online classes in the arts, business, education, math, science, and more. Class materials come from well-known institutions like the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University. OEDb encourages visitors to prepare for new careers or simply learn something new.

Lots of Benefits to Lifelong Learning

Education is important for people of any age, but especially for seniors. Learning can help you live more fully and comfortably in these ways:

  • Personal satisfaction. As a senior, you likely have more time to learn, and can add to your skills and accomplishments by taking a single class or pursuing a degree.
  • Memory improvement. Taking part in educational opportunities helps you activate your mind to stay sharp and focused.
  • Social engagement. Education involves a social component that can benefit you. Just as in your college years, classes can be a great place to make friends.
  • Physical fitness. How about taking a hiking or swimming class? These types of physical activities are great for staying healthy.
  • Self-expression. Learning a creative skill you’ve always wanted to explore can be rewarding and fulfilling. Consider learning how to play the piano, paint, write, sing, or dance.
  • Self-confidence. Perhaps you made it into your senior years without finishing a college degree. Now’s your chance to graduate and validate your abilities.

Who knows? Learning may be the fountain of youth. If not, it’s still fun to jump in and make a splash.

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