Learn a new skill

I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Skillshare because I wanted to improve my drawing skills, and I did. There’s more than 16,000 video classes to choose from. A monthly subscription is $15 per month, but I opted to cancel before the trial ended — they make it really easy and in fact, when I went to cancel they extended my trial another month! They also offer classes in photography, film, cooking and writing. — CD

LearningClaudia Dawson
Learn about nature

I used the iNaturalist app when I was hiking and took a picture of a tree that I wanted to know the name of. I just uploaded the picture and labeled it as “I don’t know what this is.” The next morning, I was happily surprised to see an email alerting me that another user identified it for me! It’s like a collaborative classroom on your phone. — CD

LearningClaudia Dawson
Explainer videos

I love good explainer videos. The best are made by Kurzgesagt. Their 5-minute videos are stunningly animated and cover topics such as automation, genetic engineering, gamma ray bursts, and ebola. They often leave me in awe about our universe. — MF

LearningClaudia Dawson
Painless history

My favorite example of how video is displacing much of what books used to do is this short YouTube video on the History of Japan. In only 9 minutes it covers the complex, twisted, obscure history of Japan but with insight and clarity. (One of its subtle tricks is to use nick names instead of proper names for people.) The clip has racked up 30 million views because it teaches so well. — KK

LearningClaudia Dawson
Analogies about technology

Sideways Dictionary uses analogies to explain technology. You can contribute your own, upvote those you like or downvote those you don’t find helpful. Here’s one to describe API: “It’s like a LEGO brick. An application without an API is like a LEGO brick without nodules (are they called nodules?) – it’s not much fun and you can’t build anything new with it.” — by Nick Asbury. — CD

LearningClaudia Dawson
Learn to negotiate

A great one-episode podcast that taught me a lot about negotiation that I wished I had learned decades ago: “How Creatives Should Negotiate”, run by Ramit Sethi on the Tim Ferriss podcast. As the title suggests this 1.5-hour seminar is aimed at creatives such as photographers, musicians, designers, and the like, but really the advice is useful to anyone. — KK

LearningClaudia Dawson
Skill builder

Two Slate journalists attended a class on negotiation skills at Columbia Business School and created a 10-episode podcast called Negotiation Academy. After listening to the series, I feel like I can negotiate a better deal for myself from now on. — MF

LearningClaudia Dawson
$1500 Sandwich

A reminder of the progress we all enjoy. A curious fellow decides to spend six months growing his own wheat and vegetables, making his own cheese and meat, evaporating his own salt in order to make his own sandwich from scratch. He spent $1500 on this lunch, and in this short, How To Make A $1500 Sandwich, he gives the particulars of what is really involved in our everyday consumption. Like the Toaster Project, which was an earlier attempt by an artist who spent a year to make a $30 electric toaster from scratch (iron ore, petroleum plastic), it conveys in concrete terms the huge subsidy we get from modern civilization. I repeatedly return to these brilliant examples. — KK

LearningClaudia Dawson
Memory aid

Tiny Cards is a free smartphone app that lets you make spaced repetition flashcards to help you learn languages, history facts, the elements, constellations, or anything else. I’m using it to help me with my Japanese vocabulary. — MF

LearningClaudia Dawson
Learning videos for kids

The website The Kid Should See This gathers the best short videos that explain how the world works. Subjects includes nature, science, technology, art, and politics. So far they have collected 2,600 videos that “are not made for kids, but are perfect for them.” The videos are really great for any do-it-yourselfer, and for any life-long learner. In fact, the site might be called “The Adults Should See This.” — KK

LearningClaudia Dawson
The Learning Toolbox

The Learning Toolbox website has a bunch of useful tips for getting the most out of studying. It was created for students with “mild disabilities,” but I think it’s useful for all students and non-students too. As someone who gets distracted easily, I appreciated the tips on how to focus on lectures and while reading. — MF

LearningClaudia Dawson
Better test scores

For high-schoolers: The Khan Academy, the premier free online classroom, will tailor an SAT study course to your personal abilities based on your PSAT scores. They claim to be able to increase scores by 115 points. Sign up at Khan Academy, give PSAT permission to share your completed test, and Khan will create a free course designed for you personally. It will focus on your weak areas. BTW, they found that students who study together learn 2.5x as much as those who study alone. — KK

LearningClaudia Dawson
Kanji tutor

In the last six months I’ve learned over 500 kanji characters and Japanese vocabulary words using WaniKani, a “spaced repetition system” flashcard website. The first 3 levels are free, after that you can pay by the year or buy a lifetime account. (Disclosure, my wife used to work at WaniKani’s parent company). — MF

LearningClaudia Dawson