Learning during lockdown

If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands during lockdown, why not use your time to learn something new.

As we enter our ninth week of lockdown, many of us will have tidied every cupboard, cleaned until our hands are raw, weeded our gardens to perfection, binged all of our favourite TV shows and read the stack of books that has been on our bedside table (for years…).

If you do find yourself with some extra time on your hands or are wondering what to do this weekend, then why not use your time to learn something new. There are a huge variety of free online courses, tutorials, apps and resources available that you can take advantage of.

As James Wallman says in his book Time and How to Spend It, personal growth is central to many psychological theories of long-term happiness. So although an hour listening to a lecture may not be as enticing as the instant gratification of reality TV or social media, it will lead to greater life-satisfaction in the long term. “You could say that humans are like bicycles: if you’re not heading towards something, you fall over,” Wallman says. And when we are social distancing, online courses are one of the best ways to do that.

A pencil with love to learn painted on a wall

If you are looking for more academic online courses, there are a number of platforms to choose from that are university-affiliated so you know you are being taught by experts in the field. The courses are of varying lengths – from a few hours to a regular, weekly commitment over several months – and typically involve video lectures, reading texts and regular tests to check your memory and understanding of the syllabus. edXCoursera, and FutureLearn have an amazing range of courses.

More locally, Learn Devon, have more than 100 free new online learning courses covering three main subject areas – employability, wellbeing and digital skills.  They have been designed to support people who want to upskill themselves, particularly if they have been furloughed, made redundant or are currently self-isolating. If you want to update your IT skills, then this is the place for you.

David Robinson’s article in The Observer offers us Seven Moocs To Expand Your Mind. You could try An Introduction To Screen Writing if that blockbuster film idea keeps you awake at night or expand your mind with From The Big Bang To Dark Energy.

A woman biting a pencil staring at a laptop

If learning a new language has always been a dream, then Duolingo is a free to download, language learning app that you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day perfecting your Spanish, French, German, Japanese or even Latin. There are 30 languages to choose from and you can personalise your plan across speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Fly Ldn is a London-based yoga and pilates studio that also offers barre classes. They are running free classes, three times a day on Instagram live (@fly_ldn) at 8am, 12:30pm and 6pm.  All you need is a makeshift barre (an ironing board, window sill or even just a wall will work) and a bit of space.

Digital Stage is a new platform from Saddlers Wells theatre which is now offering a range of free dance workshops for children, elders and everyone in between.  The teachers are artists from around the world and alongside the classes, you’ll also be able to watch dance performances from the likes of BalletBoyz and Rumpelstiltskin by balletLORENT, all shows that were due to run at the theatre pre-coronavirus.

We hope that we have inspired to you to try something different this weekend; from cooking to coding or learning a language to learning to dance, there is something out there for everyone.

PS. Here’s a new acronym for you. Mooc = massive open online course!