Athena Software Blog
8 free sites to promote employee learning and professional development
Posted by Ashley Fokma on Nov. 17, 2016

My role at Athena Software is that of “Information and Instructional Designer,” but what exactly does that mean?

Primarily, it means that I’m a fervent advocate of continuing education.

More practically, it means that I am responsible for creating and maintaining the help materials that Athena Software's clients rely on. This includes the user guides, how-to articles, and tutorials posted on our help site, as well as the courses hosted on our Penelope Online Learning site, where our clients learn the basics of Penelope via video tutorials.

In addition to our own offerings, however, I wanted to draw your attention to a number of other resources for promoting continuing education at your organization. While Athena Software is not affiliated with any of these programs, they’re a great (and free!) starting point for expanding your knowledge.

1: Khan Academy
By their own definition, Khan Academy “…offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom”. I have personally completed lessons in Calculus and Chemistry through their site and have found the videos and assessments to be engaging and comprehensive.

2: Code Academy
As you can probably gather by its name, Code Academy offers courses in a more technical space. The lessons are highly interactive and their course catalogue includes courses on introductory HTML and CSS (which I’ve personally taken and thoroughly enjoyed), how to build a website, and more advanced topics like Python and PHP. If you or anyone at your organization is more technically inclined, this is a great site to spend some time on!

3: Crash Course
Crash Course, available on Youtube, is an educational channel founded by the delightful Hank and John Green (of “The Fault in Our Stars” fame). While their courses focus on the humanities and sciences in a video lecture format, the videos are fast-paced with fantastic visuals that I think are a great resource for anyone who just wants to learn something new.

4: edX
edX was founded by Harvard University and MIT and is a repository of courses from top universities including MIT, Harvard, the Sorbonne, etc. and corporations like Microsoft. The courses are available 24/7 to everyone and touch a wide range of subjects from Art History to Business Management. Courses include video lectures with interactive components like forums, activities, and assessments.

5: Coursera
Conceptually similar to edX, Coursera also offers free access to courses from universities and corporations around the world. Notable partners include Stanford, the University of Toronto, the University of New South Wales, IBM, and MoMA. Courses are available in video lectures that can be watched at your own pace. Further, you can test your knowledge with quizzes and peer-graded assessments.

6: TED
You may have already heard of TED Talks (our Director of Global Business Development Dana Fox is giving one at the University of Waterloo this month!), but in case you haven’t, TED is an organization that organizes short talks from industry experts on a wide range of topics in the technology, entertainment, and design space. They have an exhaustive library of over 2,300 videos to choose from, including “4 ways to build a human company in the age of machines” and “4 reasons to learn a new language”.

7: Duolingo
Speaking of learning a new language, if you’re so inspired, Duolingo can help you learn a new language for free. At the time of publishing this post, there are 27 languages to choose from. Each course provides an opportunity to practice newly-learned vocabulary and grammar as you progress through written and audio-based assessments. I can personally vouch for Duolingo as I’ve used it to brush up on my woefully underused French and to establish some conversational Spanish prior to travel.

8: Alison
Alison is an online learning platform that focuses on offering courses to help you develop essential workplace skills like project and change management, use of Microsoft Office products, and social media techniques. Like the other resources, their courses can be completed around your own schedule.

BONUS: Open Learning Initiative
Many high profile universities participate in what is typically called the “Online Learning Initiative,” where they publish videos and material for their courses publicly. Although these offerings can also found on repositories like edX and Coursera, OLIs are promoted directly through the university. Notable examples include:

Well, that's my list - I hope you found it useful!

If you work for a human services agency that might benefit from Penelope's simple, smart and connected approach to case management, contact us today and an evaluation specialist will be in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

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