Free Online Courses. Are They Good? Where to Get Them?

Education. You thought it will stop after school?


It never does. If you do decide to stop by any chance. Consider yourself done. It is not possible to keep up the pace of the modern markets when knowledge you got 10,5, 3…what the heck – even 1 year ago!

Fortunately for us (you and me…) there is no need to sell family valuable and travel by ship to distant places of learning. While technological revolution is challenging all of our careers, it also extends the helping hand – so we can improve ourselves as never before.

Languages, negotiation skills, financial model building…the list does not end. Everything seems so interesting that it is hard to decide what to start and most importantly …what to finish! 

I was in finance my whole professional life (over 12 years now). Lately, I started to think about getting some additional knowledge of coding. With financial services heading for an industry shift through many fintech startups and other means of “new era of financial services”, seems as a necessity.

While earning money (and overall success) could be described as a marathon, now it is still a marathon but at a sprinter’s pace. 

Additional language is a must. Higher education is expected. MBA? Many already have it. Years in the field? Well, many other have it too.

How to stand out from the crowd?

Answer: Learn.New.Skills. 

Today we will have a look at some of the sources to get you going. Sources which I personally use and will gladly share.

Best Ones (in my opinion)



Khan Academy – In case this name does not ring a bell, you missed a lot… This site helped me to understand some financial principles that were escaping me even after I ve read many books and watched many online tutorials. But finance and economics is just a small part of what this fantastic resource has to offer.

The list goes on. Instead of watching Episode 264 Season 35 of your favorite sitcom, put some of those videos in the background. Get yourself going!!

In my opinion, Khan Academy will not give you that “$1 mil dollar career skill” but it can provoke your mind to generate new ideas. It also can fill the blanks that you have and it can become a valuable resource as you go on with different courses.


Coursera – there is no point in listing all the courses this site can offer. Yes some of them paid. Consider this. How much would it cost you to go to Stanford, Penn, Duke or University fo Michigan and sit on the lectures?

Done? Now imagine that you can pay a couple of dollars to listen to the same material, by the same lecturers and be able to pause or rewind it. There is an app for your phone so you can listen (or watch) them on the go!

How much easier can it get for you to have such learning opportunities?!  Personally (again) I used Coursera for learning more about corporate finance, also some soft skills and philosophy (which interested me a lot at the time).

This site is a bit more “advanced” than Khans Academy, it offers courses with help which you can actually build a skill that will advance you in your work. Have a look, start with one… and see where it leads you.


edX – Same applies here. Wanna listen to what they have to say in MIT, Harvard or Berkeley? Just register and get yourself started. The amounts of courses are crazy. Anything from biochemistry to leadership in engineering teams!

In my opinion, edX is more on the technical side of the scale. It does also offer “humanities” but the amount of science that you can learn here is just astounding. Precise skills (coding, quantitative, financial modeling) are easy to test, so if mastered they can become a big advantage on the interview.

If I say that I can deliver sales results and be a valuable member of the team…well only time will show.

If You say that you can automate part of sales process, or code a script in under X minutes…that is something that can be easily verified. Everybody likes measurable results.



Free-Ed – while this site will not provide with fancy courses as in previous mentions, it will give you access to many books to study on particular subjects. Here I found a lot of free books on economics. There are no videos to explain everything, but someone might prefer to read it.

Alison – another great one. A wide variety of topics and courses to learn for free.


In Conclusion

As you probably understood my favorites are Khan Academy and Coursera. If I may add a couple of suggestions:

  •  Do not jump from course to course. Yes, many of those online courses are free, but what use is it to you if you do not finish any of them?!
  • If you are an engineer, do not start psychology courses if you do not have a strong intention to change career path. Be a specialist in your field. Average knowledge of many things will not make as much money as deep knowledge of one topic will.

What is your experience with online learning? Want to share some interesting courses? Do so in the comments below!

P.S.: I will probably do a separate post on coding courses which you can take for free. Stay tuned.



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