Best Free Udemy Courses: A Little Bit of Everything, All of the Time

Best Free Udemy Courses: A Little Bit of Everything, All of the Time

Udemy has certainly positioned itself as a premier purveyor of online education. Scroll through the site and you are bombarded with a bewildering array of courses at beginner, intermediate and expert levels.

You’ve got no time for that. You want a little bit of everything, all of the time – and most of all, you want it for free. There is a veritable abundance of free online courses available. Sadly, that price tag can often mean you’re getting a glorified YouTube video of someone droning on to an unimpressive slideshow.

Yet, some course providers go further. Despite their free tag, there are amazing courses that have the production values and quality of insight that a paid course gives. Usually, they’re introductory courses to a larger topic, but that doesn’t stop them from being incredibly useful as first steps.

What Do I Want to Learn?

Only you know this. But you want some ideas. So let’s start by giving you a broad texture of how you can improve yourself.

Perhaps you’re looking for skills-based courses. These are great if you’re thinking about a career-hop or want to see if becoming a photographer is really what you want by trying a short course. Or maybe you’re invested in a passion project and need some basic coding skills to get you over the first hurdle.

There are also creative and lifestyle courses. These help you develop new hobbies that focus on your wellbeing, mental health, or general skills. They teach you to think better or how to get your blog started.

And then there are intellectual courses that introduce the concept that define our past, or new ones like Artificial Intelligence that indicate our future.

Skills learning isn’t all about work. It’s also about you. However, it’s fair to say that the majority of courses on our list are focused on work-placed activities.

The Joys (and Pain) of Free Online Courses

You will need a Udemy account to access these courses. Signing up is free, and you can use your Facebook, Google, or Apple account. However, there is no cost for you to pay to enjoy the content.

Of course, there are some restrictions to this. You won’t get any certification for completing the course. So proudly brandishing it at an interview might get short shrift (and paying for a certificate doesn’t necessarily overcome that problem either). That said, it’s still a great thing to put on your CV to show clarity, intention, and diversity in your approach to yourself.

The other thing is free courses won’t have Q and A sessions with the instructor for you to go over the course content, and it’s highly unlikely that you will receive any direct messages or interaction from your tutor either. This kind of interaction is (usually) the preserve of paid content. Often, these great free courses are jumping-off points into larger and more in-depth courses you have to stump up the cash for – but there is no obligation at any time.

So, let’s look at some of the best free learning content the internet has to offer as we take you through some fantastic free Udemy courses.

Top 10 Best Free Udemy Courses 2022


1. Useful Excel Skills for Beginners

  • 9 hours 38 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Dinesh Natarajan Mohan
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

Excel is a fantastic life skill, and these nine hours of free tuition will give you a superb degree of competency to help you navigate almost all everyday work uses.

Excel is a powerful tool. As a Turing complete piece of software, it’s capable of running – theoretically – anything at all. For most, it’s a brilliant way of keeping track of their daily or business finances. For businesses, the spreadsheet is often the nexus point of the whole operation. If there was one document you could delete to send the whole operation belly up, this is the one.

If you’re scared of such an outcome, or you’re looking to apply for a job that requires a working knowledge of Excel, and you want to know what you need to know – this is the perfect course. In fact, this “beginners” course will take you, step by step, through more than most job advertisements are looking for when they ask for basic excel skills. It’s 9 hours long, after all. So, for the grand price of nothing at all, it’s quite a spectacular deal.

However, it is a little slow. That might be to your delight or your frustration. Yet, it’s slow because it’s both methodical and comprehensive. There is a set of data files you download, and then you can follow along with the videos while manipulating the data on the spreadsheet. That way, you can see the effects for yourself and get a more confident grasp of how to implement them.

Basic Excel functions like formatting, editing, saving, tabulation, dating, sums, divisions, and most of the basic mathematical operations you will likely need are covered. Plus, there are tips on how to organize your sheet for long-term success, so it doesn’t start to spiral out of control as more information hits it.

Pros

  • Astonishingly useful and in-depth for a free course
  • Everything you could need for basic workplace tasks

Cons

  • There is more to learn, and this doesn’t touch upon it
  • A little plodding at times


2. Google AdWords for Small Businesses

  • 5 hours 54 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: John Horn
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

An extremely generous chunk of content with a slew of fantastic insights into how to maximize Google AdWords campaigns.

Google’s reach into modern daily consciousness continues unabated. For millions of small businesses, operating under Google’s multi-colored authority is a fact of life. And it’s no bad thing – firms that take advantage of the unparalleled customer access Google Adwords offers often find their business is successful, with no other marketing spend required.

Google AdWords allows you to run campaigns through google search. They’re a vital fulcrum in many modern, digitally based businesses. If you’re looking to extend your business’s reach and have noticed the free AdWord voucher Gmail periodically offers you but can’t make sense of it – this course is a brilliant place to start.

Created by an industry pro who has managed millions in ad spend in his career, it’s simple, clear, and extremely generous for a free course. As well as step by step telling you how to actually do it, the instructor offers plenty of the how and why, too – which is pleasing depth for something that costs nothing.

It starts by going over strategy. Then, once it’s helped you set up your Google Adwords account, It covers Search, Call-Only, Remarketing, Display, Shopping, and YouTube campaigns. It talks about the benefit of good copy, how ad extensions work in all their myriad forms, and using Google Keyword Planner to maximum effect.

It’s definitely mainly focused on Search campaigns, but as the most prominent, reliable, and lucrative of the options on offer - that’s only to be expected. There are some slight syncing problems with the videos, too – but hey, you didn’t pay for it.

Pros

  • Generous amount of content
  • Comprehensive on search campaigns

Cons

  • Lot more attention on Search than the other types of campaign
  • Video desyncs at times


3. Programming 101

  • 4 hours 19 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Lawrence Turton
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

This course gets you into programming without having to commit to a language, and teaching basic concepts lets you understand which path to take, knowing you’re well prepared for any choice.

Computers are taking over the world. No, really, they are. It’s now a well-known truth that if you can program code – even at a basic level – you are instantly more employable, as you can at least help manage the company blog. If you can code well, then the rewards are substantial. And if you’re brilliant at it – there’s every chance for you to be a trailblazer in the modern construction of society. It’s truly that useful.

So how do you start? Which language should you learn? What kind of code empowers what kind of program? And what exactly is a computer anyway? Even if that last question is one you ask, this course does a pretty fine job of starting at ground zero and helping you without being patronizing or boring for the average taker. In fact, it might help you think about computers in a way you hadn’t before.

Because this is a fundamentals course, that’s exactly why it’s a great course to take before choosing a language like C or Python – or if you don’t know what those languages even are. This course helps you understand what a programming language is, how it interacts with the machine, and most importantly, how the concepts of functions, arguments, and parameters are prevalent in all types of code. It’ll also run through terms like CPU, SPU, GPU, and networking and avail you of all the nitty-gritty hardware-speak you need to understand lessons you receive further down the line.

Across just over four hours, the course teaches you loads of transferable skills that will serve you in good stead if you want to chase coding as a route to a better career or just a chance to converse with the ghost in the machine.

Pros

  • It helps you choose a programming language
  • The fundamentals are all there
  • Good for Luddites but still enjoyable for more technically-minded beginners

Cons

  • More general pre-coding theory than actual coding skills


4. Welcome to Artificial Intelligence!

  • 49 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Vinoth Rathinam
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

It explains the best languages and engines to get started with machine learning, as well as explores some history and concepts behind AI.

Alan Turing – recently printed on the British £50 note – changed world history when he developed the “automatic machines” that could produce any conceivable computer program. You on your laptop or phone right now are the beneficiary of that singular genius. We are, more than ever, techno sapiens.

How far can this go? Artificial intelligence – a computer that the Turing test states can fool any human into believing it is real - was an idea from the outset. Later definitions propose a completely synthetic general intelligence consciousness, one that is able to perceive, problem-solve and, crucially yet enigmatically, be as self-aware as a human.

AI may sound like science fiction, but the truth is artificial intelligence of limited means is operating every day around you. Whether programming your search algorithm, manipulating traffic to high-efficiency or, in a more high-profile example, piloting driverless cars—perhaps even military systems. Remember, at 2:14 am Eastern Time, 1997, Skynet became self-aware and began learning at a geometric rate.

Knowing about AI and the impact it’s having and will have on the world of the future is an important intellectual pursuit, and this course – at 49 minutes long – gives you an excellent primer on this exciting and sometimes frightening new technology and how to start building your new digital god.

For complete novices, it explains how to choose a programming language and engine to get started, what level of mathematical knowledge is needed, and what programs you will need to start a machine learning project.

Pros

  • Allows you to conceptualize how your ML project is going to work
  • Delves into strategy
  • Some history – but this review has more

Cons

  • The overview of AI is a little basic
  • At 49 minutes, it can leave key concepts underexplored


5. Introductory Photography Course

  • 2 hours 37 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Chris Bray
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

This course helps you unlock the potential of your camera as a device, showing you all the functions and features to help take great photos.

You’ve always had your camera on “auto.” We get it; the auto feature on modern phones and cameras is something to behold. As such, your family photos are the talk of the WhatsApp group, and your Instagram photos look superb. “These are great photos,” people say “you’ve got a real eye.”

Yes, you do. You’ve even decided to buy a new DSLR camera but are a bit disappointed to find the photos aren’t looking quite as good as you hoped. The thing is, knowing how to get the best out of your camera is key. From exposure, metering modes to histogram graphs, there are so many settings that fidgeting through the various options is overwhelming.

This course is great at helping you unlock the potential of your new camera. It goes step by step through the various modes and the possibilities they enable. It makes sure you’re comfortable with the aperture and depth of field and how to control it to get the photos you want. It also has some great general photography tips, giving you ten top tips on things like framing and how to catch the light properly.

Perfect for complete novitiate photographers who want to quite literally learn the tool of the trade – the camera – and get some general pointers on how to get started. Pleasingly, there is a practical session, which by following along you can put into practice the skills the course teaches you.

Pros

  • Practical camera methods
  • Good set of photography tips
  • Practical session helps you implement learning

Cons

  • As with many free courses, questions are sometimes raised and not answered.


6. Presentation Skills Secrets: Delivering the Talk of Your Life

  • 2 hours 19 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Steve Gargulio
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

Public speaking is a life skill – and a pretty hard one too. This course builds your confidence and gives you practical advice to make your presentations go smoothly.

Sometimes it’s all about you. For better or for worse, you are delivering a presentation that could change either your world or everyone else’s. And it’s nerve-racking; it really is. Whether doing a viva for a Ph.D., delivering quarterly sales targets to the board, or standing up in front of a room full of people who don’t know you and just getting them to listen to your idea – talking fluently and engagingly to an audience will get you far in life.

The problem is, for many, it’s terrifying. And for others, they have all the bombast in the world but can’t structure their ideas coherently so their audience can keep up.

This course gives you the fundamental precepts of delivering a good presentation. It focuses on the power of storytelling and how you can take your audience on a journey through your ideas by using a narrative. It gives you tips on clarity, how to communicate efficiently, and how to use visual aids and props to your advantage rather than them bossing the whole event. It aims to make these skills repeatable, so if you have to do this weekly, you’ll have a template to act on and won’t be a bag of nerves or slipshod wreck come talking time.

It also gives you tips on commanding a room. For some, this is natural—for others, alien. Yet like many things, easy practical tips can go a long way towards augmenting or replacing your natural confidence. It shows you how you can be confident and let your presentation do the talking. It also has a section on how to rehearse properly and how to get your presentation perfect through repetition.

Pros

  • Actionable tips and strategies
  • Confidence building rhetoric
  • Workplace tools and applications

Cons

  • Is mainly focused on storytelling and narrative forms of presentation
  • A few too many buzzwords instead of hard advice


7. Stock Market Investing for Beginners

  • 1 hours 29 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: John Ducas
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

A quickfire, sharp insight into the greatest casino on earth – the stock market!

Retail investor interest in stocks and shares has never been higher. $GME went supernova in the charts and in the headlines as a result of retail investors banding together to squeeze the hedge funds out of their short positions—and making them sweat.

Other “meme” stocks have brought the casual user to the world of stock and shares, with brokerage programs like the probably-not-on-your-side Robinhood, Etoro, WeBull, and more, getting the average consumer access to a Bloomberg terminal on their phone. As a result, investing in the stock market has never been easier. It’s no longer the preserve of Wall Street Yuppies and Mansioned Fat Cats. The everyman has come to play.

There’s more. The pandemic has led to unprecedented quantitative easing, and as people fear the value of their currency, they turn to assets. The bull market is on, and everyone wants a piece. But be careful; what goes up must come down. And to save your savings and investments from becoming your gambling fund, it’s good to know a thing or two about what’s going on.

This course gives you a comprehensive overview of the stock market as a concept and a dive into the ultra-complexities from which it is made. It’ll show you a way to practice with virtual money so you can cut your teeth before betting the farm. Finally, it’ll apprise you of all the key lingo, so you can understand your puts, calls, and options – and who knows, when you get good, maybe you’ll join the dark side and get shorty yourself.

Pros

  • Gives you the “lingo”
  • Avails you of the history
  • Gives you some strategies

Cons

  • The strategies are basic
  • If he knew what the market would do, he wouldn’t be creating this course


8. WordPress Basics, Learn WordPress in Less Than an Hour!

  • 1 hour 17 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Patrick Gerrits
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

If you want to create a blog in WordPress but don’t know how to begin, this short course will get your first blogpost live.

WordPress is the primary engine of the internet. From the early days of pure blogging to the modern world of podcast blogs, portfolios, and online stores, WordPress powers many cottage creators and small businesses. The tools at your disposal in WordPress are easy to learn and hard to master. Easy enough that after a one-hour course, you’ll more than likely be able to get your basic blog up and running and know what the next steps towards your total online portal will be.

The course helps you install and configure WordPress, find a theme that captures your style and mood, and take advantage of plugins to maximize your utility. It walks you through step by step the process of creating posts and pages in WordPress. As the two primary functions, they’re well covered.

It does claim to help you “master all settings and options” in WordPress, and that is perhaps overpainting the flower slightly. There is a cursory rundown of the myriad options available in the course, but it’ll likely take a lot more trial and error before you have it down pat. You’ll also need to have your own hosting ready or be happy to install on a local host – don’t worry, these terms are explained too in the course.

Still, if you want to learn to use WordPress in a slick, basic, and super-guided manner and get your first blog online and out into the world, this course will give you everything you need to get started.

Pros

  • Be able to have a WordPress blog running by the end
  • Good explanation of plugins
  • Starts at the installation process

Cons

  • Doesn’t elaborate on some of WordPress’s features
  • Doesn’t help you customize your themes


9. Hyperthinking: Improve Your Day to Day Learning and Creativity

  • 1 hour 7 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Digital Masterclass – Online Series, Phillip Weiss
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

Pay attention to the world around you and make the connections you usually miss with this simple set of tips for “HyperThinking.”

The muggy normalness of everyday thought is nothing to be ashamed of. Particularly of late, it can be difficult to get a handle on what’s going on around us. Often, while being made busy by the days of our lives, our brain gets stuck on autopilot, and we miss the stimuli of the world around us—the paths hidden by the foliage of the mundane.

Remember that thinking is an active tool that can go a long way to help us shift our perspective and escape the ruts and ditches of our daily lives. It can help us overcome problems at work and see the solutions others miss. This course tries to prime our brains with these tips and gives ideas for how to enable the mode of clarity even when there is so much going on.

It brings a systematic approach to creativity. It shows that through routine and implementation of energizing techniques, you can bring out your creative spirit and give it a framework within which to perform. It gives you some basic tricks to increase your learning capacity and retain knowledge better. It also shows you how, by being alert and HyperThinking at the right times, you can achieve success by making your move just when it will be most effective.

More work-based than general-based, it highlights tools to manage conflicts, running high-quality meetings, and bringing your creativity into the workplace, but it also has some good general tips on how to be more alert and aware just when you need it most.

Pros

  • Work-focused strategies
  • Has normal life applications
  • Good memory techniques

Cons

  • Too work-focused – can get corporate
  • There is nothing truly original here, just well-packaged concepts


10. Code Your First Game: Arcade Classic in Javascript on Canvas

  • 2 hours 10 minutes Free Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught By: Chris DeLeon
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources Included: On-Demand Video

Why we like it

By the end of this course, you’ll have a working game that you can play on and show your friends.

The industry for computer gaming is now larger than the movie and music industry combined. The kids who grew up gaming don’t seem to have stopped, and their kids now have access to the next generation of world-class games. With games like Among Us and Angry Birds breaking into mainstream popular culture, it’s clear that we are now a civilization of gamers.

Even better, the tools for making games are becoming ever more accessible. Engines like Godot and Unity allow indie developers to thrive. And even the fabled Unreal engine is now far easier for visionaries and designers to bring their games to life with even only a passable knowledge of how to code.

If you have an idea for a game but are at a loss on how to start, and your programming knowledge is zero, this course will let you build an entire game from scratch in just over two hours. The practical route allows you to learn basic coding practices as you go.

Naturally, you won’t be walking away with your own Fortnite clone, but rather you’ll build a facsimile of the first-ever video game – the white knuckle thrill ride that is Pong.

You use Javascript on Canvas to program the game. Yet all you need is a text editor and web browser, and you’ll be able to sit down with a nice game of homemade Pong. Yes, the course is limited in scope, but it will give you a functional and hands-on insight into thinking like a game programmer.

Pros

  • You end the course with your very own game
  • Programming basics are soon through practice
  • Skills are transferable

Cons

  • Specifically in Javascript
  • Nothing beyond the actual central project



Extra Credit: How to Make the Most of Udemy’s Online Courses

These ten great courses have hopefully inspired your appetite for learning. If you’re eyeing one of these (or perhaps have already started one on your second monitor while you read the rest of this article), you might want to know how to get the best out of these free online courses.

How to Learn Online Effectively

Active learning is paramount. Yes, free courses are generally just video lectures. They are a passive way to engage with information and learning, not unlike a lecture you would get at University or school. Sadly, if you remember those times, you might also remember your droopy attention in a summer day’s heat or you being distracted by your crush across the hall while the lecturer droned on.

Just listening is only going to get you so far. We at Learning Nest strongly advocate watching these courses with at least a pen and paper in your hand. Even idle doodling is better for pattern recognition and memory retention than simply sitting trying to listen. Turning the receptive part of your brain into the productive part of your brain is the most effective way to imprint new knowledge and develop new neurons.

Make Notes

You’re not being tested. Don’t worry if your notes are bad, scruffy, or stop halfway through. Just try to get into the habit of jotting things down that you hear, even if it makes no sense in context later. The very act of scribing will reinforce the auditory sensation more effectively alone. You can also go wild with mind maps and multi-colored notes – but there is no need to go this far to still get use out of it.

Pause and Repeat

If something is interesting to you, but you don’t quite catch it, then pause the video and repeat it. Better yet, pause after the instructor has explained the concept and try and repeat it back word for word. Then, try and imagine explaining the concept you just heard in your own words to an imaginary (or real!) person. The act of processing through the language center in your brain is another sure-fire way to help get knowledge to stick.

Do the Project or Any Additional Worksheets

Online courses often take you through a singular worksheet or provide some extension material. It’s really worth engaging with this and following along. If the instructor is asking you to follow along in Excel, for example, have Excel open and do what they are asking you—even if at times the pace is mundane. This methodical step-by-step learn-by-doing is a time-trusted learning method and will let you feel more confident when you fly solo.

Avoid Distractions

Often far easier said than done. Yet keep in mind distractions you may not be thinking of already – your posture and subsequently sore back, your seating position, any malodorous smells that you’ve developed olfactory fatigue to but are weighing you down. A nice, clean working environment or space to take your laptop where you learn will help put you in the right mood and engage.We can’t always avoid common distractions—like the noise of a wailing cat whose been dueling in the dark—but by keeping what we can control well ordered, we’ll find it easy to focus even in the face of the very worst outside stimuli.

Take Breaks

Always take breaks, even if you don’t want a break. There is a reason since time immemorial that 30-minute and 1-hour sessions are so prevalent in academia. Humans don’t do well when trying to acquire vast amounts of knowledge over extended periods of time. The brain needs to switch off and distract itself before it can re-enter its learning phase. The videos are all pausable, so don’t think about “pushing through to the end of this lesson” before stopping. If you feel like that, you’ve already stopped learning. Take a break, then get back to it when you’re ready to take it on.

Is Udemy the Best Learning Platform?

A platform is mainly judged by the quality and range of its courses and how smoothly it delivers the content. Here, Udemy excels. More Udemy courses are pitched at the everyday learner than on competing websites like Coursera, which has more technical courses. There are a lot more “beginner avenues” available to those who want to get a Udemy subscription. Skillshare is another website that is similar to Udemy in the way it targets the “casual learner” crowd—not that the courses on the platform are necessarily any weaker for it.

In truth, all these skill learning platforms do a great job of delivering video content and resources through architecture. So don’t worry about what platform your course is hosted on—just go for it. However, when thinking about a membership to one of these sites, it’s best to try and find a few courses that you’re interested in so you can be sure the platform will help you get maximum value for your subscription dollar.

These Free Courses Aren’t What I Want to Learn – Are There Any More?

Yes, loads. There are thousands of free courses. Bear in mind though, they are usually just the first part of a larger course. Often these courses act as sales funnels to get you to buy the whole course. And hey, if you learn a heck of a lot in two hours with an instructor, it may well be worth signing up to Udemy or Skillshare and purchasing some of the excellent paid content and really taking a skill you want to learn to the next level.

Learning Nest has plenty of insights into all kinds of paid course content, including the best blockchain courses, best crochet classes, best typing courses, and more. Look around our site to get in-depth reviews like this one on the topics listed.

A New, True, Better You.

Taking a free online course can help you discover or develop a passion you never knew you had. It can also be an excellent fact-finding first step into a new discipline that you’re eyeing. Or perhaps you’re just one of those people who’s never happier than when knowledge is being poured into your brain. Hardened pupil or reluctant learner, these free courses on Udemy are a great opportunity to develop yourself and your career. Sign up, log on, and unleash your potential.