07/03/2012 05:29 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2012

Free Summer Learning

While summer is typically considered a time for relaxing on the beach, exploring the outdoors and grilling, it can also be a great opportunity for learning. You could take a class at a community college or a nearby university, shadow a professional or intern at a local business, but other options are available as well. Due in part to the rise of online education, there is a wide variety of resources available for free on the Internet for anyone interested on leaning something new. Here are five resources offering such educational opportunities:

1. Coursera

Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, both professors of computer science at Stanford University, founded Coursera in order to "offer high quality courses from the top universities for free for everyone." They currently partner with four universities -- Princeton University, UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania -- in addition to their home university of Stanford to offer everyone access to world-class education. Through their partnerships with some of the nation's top universities, Coursera offers an impressive and diverse curriculum in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences.

2. Code Academy

Code Academy offers free classes on how to write computer code -- a necessary skill in these tech-savvy times and one increasingly desired by employers. Code Academy was founded by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, and developed out of Sims's frustration at not knowing how to code while he and Bubinski worked on school projects together. Disappointed with the resources available to novice code writers, the two formed Code Academy to make learning code free, easy and accessible. Students learn through interactive lessons that teach them how to code by actually having them code, and are able to connect and learn with friends, as well as track their progress through Code Academy's website.

3. Skillshare

According to their website, Skillshare is a community marketplace engineered to teach anyone anything. The brainchild of co-founders Malcolm Ong and Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Skillshare operates on the premise that all people are inherently curious and desire a platform to exercise and satiate that curiosity. Skillshare offers users the opportunity to both create and teach classes in categories like the creative arts, technology, entrepreneurship, culinary arts and lifestyle.

4. General Assembly

Founded by Matthew Brimer, Brad Hargreaves, Adam Pritzker and Jake Schwartz in New York City, General Assembly is a "campus for technology, design and entrepreneurship" that provides educational programming, space and support to encourage collaborative practices and learning opportunities influenced by the entrepreneurial experience. The bulk of the assembly's users engage through free workshops and classes based around technology, design and entrepreneurship, as well as participate in social events within the space.

5. Khan Academy

Operated by Sal and Shantaru, a pair of MIT graduates, and a small team of engineers and educators, Khan Academy offers free classes and video-based instruction, mostly geared toward math and the hard sciences. Khan Academy boasts a library of videos covering math from kindergarten through high school, along with biology, physics, chemistry, finance and history. The site is designed so that anyone -- teachers, parents and educators -- can use it, and offers both interactive support and the ability for users to track their progress. Additionally, Khan Academy offers the Discovery Lab, an intensive in-person math and sciences camp for sixth through ninth graders over the summer.

By Jeffrey Roe

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