Capitalize on your newfound downtime by signing up for these enriching programs.

By Lauren Wellbank
April 01, 2020
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For those of us stuck at home due to COVID-19 and social distancing, finding productive ways to pass the time is more important now than ever. Whether you've recently found yourself with a little more time on your hands or you're looking for a new hobby to fill your downtime, you'll want to check out these online courses. Each one offers a fully virtual learning experience that you can complete from the comfort of your couch.

Learn a Language

If you've always wanted to learn another language but never had the time, here's your chance. Engage your brain with Duolingo, an app-based program that calls itself the world's best way to learn a language. Choose from one of the many options (Spanish, French, and Japanese are just a few of those available) and get started. Best of all, this app is free.

For a slightly larger array of options and a small fee, Babbel lets you learn at your own pace ($3.49 a month, babbel.com). It offers 13 different languages to choose from, including Italian, Russian, and Dutch. Answer a few quick questions like why you want to learn a new language, how much experience you already have with it, and how much time you can set aside each day to get started; this helps the app set up the best learning experience for you. For a tried-and-true program, go with Rosetta Stone. With over 25 years of praise from users, it also features 25 languages to choose from. Students can sign up for these online classes for free, but everyone else has to pay a sliding scale membership (from $5.99 a month, rosettastone.com).

Make Some Music

There's no better time than the present to pick up an instrument. These sites all provide online courses to teach you everything from chords to musical scales. Looking to learn the guitar, bass, or ukulele? Fender, a famous guitar manufacturer, offers digital lessons from the pros. Sign up now and get your first three months for free. Or follow famous pianists like Quincy Jones and Harry Connick Jr. as they teach you how to tickle the ivories from the comfort of your home with Playground Sessions (from $9.99 a month, playgroundsessions.com). Another option is I Music School (from $34.99 a month, imusic-school.com), an online institute that teaches everyone from beginners to experts some new skills. Available on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, you can use this site to pick up anything from guitar to piano..

All About Art

Many museums are currently offering online tours, but a few art history lessons will give you a deeper appreciation of what you're seeing. What better way to learn about art than from the museums and art houses that house the pieces? Sotheby's is an acclaimed name in fine art, so it should come as no surprise that the institution offers an online art program via the Sotheby's Institute. Choose from four, six, and eight-week courses and contact for pricing. If modern art is more your speed, learn from some of the best and sign up for any one of a number of classes being taught by the experts at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Become Tech Savvy

Thinking of a career change or learning something completely new? Amp up your resumé with a tech-based online course. Online coding boot camps are a great way to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Schools like Flatiron and General Assembly all have online courses to give your technical prowess a boost. Or teach yourself how to code with the help of Code Academy—it's a free online program you can tackle at your own speed.

Even big-name universities are extending online options. The University of Pennsylvania provides a 24-week course promising to turn you into a web developer in no time. But you do have to apply and qualify for this prestigious program in order to learn. If your application days are behind you, plenty of schools allow people to audit classes (when you take a course but are not given a grade or credit). Sign up for one of Harvard's many online courses and get an introduction to data-wise or pick from one of their many non-tech offerings. The course is free if you go the audit route, but for a small fee, you can walk away with your own Harvard certificate!

Homeschooling Heroes

If you want to find some courses for the kids while they're at home, check out what Scholastic and ABCmouse have to offer. Both sites provide beneficial online learning options for children. Scholastic offers day-by-day projects that will keep your Pre-K to ninth graders busy. Each activity is sorted by grade, making it easy to find one that is perfect for your child. Younger kids can take advantage of ABCmouse's programs. Designed for little ones between the ages of two and eight, these programs can help them stay on top of their reading, math, colors, and more.

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