Hands-on free learning resources
Keep your brain active with these free, online learning activities.
Whether your interests include learning new languages, composing music, creative writing – or all of the above.
MIT: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
Cezar Ionescu, Associate Professor of Data Science, recommends MIT OpenCourseWare's (OCW) Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, which he says is 'a challenging introduction to fundamental aspects of computer science and to what we today call computational thinking. The course is organised around a high-quality textbook, freely available. The resources include slides with audio and video lectures by the original authors'. Despite the videos being filmed in 1986, the content is still applicable to today’s budding computer scientists. MIT OCW is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content and is open and freely available to all.
Andrew Wille: Creative Writing Resources
Amal Chatterjee, Tutor in Creative Writing, recommends the 'resources' section of Andrew Wille's creative writing and book development website and, more specifically, the 'writing experiments' activities. Wille's website is a treasure trove of resources, activities and advice for those who are interested in creative writing.
Council for British Archaeology
David Griffiths, Associate Professor in Archaeology, recommends the 'resources hub' on the Council for British Archaeology website. 'The CBA are bringing together free resources to help anyone engaged in archaeology, whether you are an organisation looking for practical help, or are looking for content to keep you or your family entertained at home'. Resources are added regularly and include activities for children.
Dr Mashail Ali suggests that those wishing to learn a new language, or develop current skills, should take a look at the free learning platforms recommended by the European Commission’s Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE). Dr Ali is a Departmental Lecturer and Director of Studies for Languages and Cultural Studies.
Royal Academy of Dance
The Royal Academy of Dance has created RAD@Home in response to Covid-19: 'As the home for dance, the RAD is here to support you when you can’t leave yours. As such, we’ve created RAD@Home to provide a whole raft of content to help you make the most of dancing at home.' Have fun and keep fit with their online ballet classes, or try Five a Day - a series of videos consisting of five fitness exercises for you to do at home, each day.
Tutor Grant Miller says: 'I would highly recommend the Zooniverse citizen science platform, as both an open, educational resource and an opportunity to collaborate on genuine research.' Zooniverse is 'the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research' and anyone can be a researcher - you don’t need any specialised background, training, or expertise to participate in any project. Projects include transcribing the groundbreaking work of early women astronomers, identifing fish species on paintings, helping to discover mosquitoes from their buzz and more!
Make & do
Claire O'Mahony, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Design, recommends the positive distraction that craft work can have on our mental health. The experience of 'flow', when focusing on making craft, has long been recognised as a great enhancement to wellbeing and mental health and in recent years craft activities have been prescribed by the NHS. The V&A Museum's 'Make & do' resources include projects such as crafting your own Mexican-inspired embroidery, sewing a Mary Quant dress or making a Japanese style 'boro' bag.
Oxford University Sport
As well as keeping your brain active, its important to look after your physical health. Oxford University Sport is sharing workout ideas, tips and short exercise videos on their social channels and they're also looking for ideas from you - if you're finding alternative and ingenious ways to workout at home then tag @OxfordUniSport in your social media posts and use hashtags #activeatoxford and #stayinandworkout.
Learn to Code
Give coding a try with ‘Scratch’. Initially developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Learning Lab, especially for ages 8 to 16, it’s now used by people of all ages. Have a go at programming your own interactive stories, games, and animations. And for those who already have some experience of coding, we suggest MIT Open Learning - a great collection of resources for learners and educators.
Duolingo is a fantastic resource for consolidating language learning, available both online and as an app. It offers 30 languages from the internationally recognised (Spanish, Portuguese) to more niche languages such as Swahili and Esperanto. The app recognises that everyone learns in different ways, and makes use of technology to tailor its teaching to each student. Its format allows users to study a language flexibly - on the go and in small stages - entirely for free. Recommended by Danae Theologis, French Tutor at the Department.
Make Digital Music
Music tutor Roger Thomas recommends you have a go with Electric Telepathy’s Online Synthesizer, Fluoresynth, which Roger says is, 'quite fun and gently instructive whether one is a committed music-lover or just mildly curious.
Neverending Stories is a free storytelling pack from the National Centre for Creative Writing. Aimed at young children, but with advice suitable for all ages, this is crammed with simple tips and suggested activities for fun and engaging storytelling at home.
This is a fantastic resource for parents to support their children learning from home. BBC Bitesize Daily gives you three new lessons every day for all ages, with a section for Primary, Secondary and Post-16, plus a new dedicated TV channel full of learning content, podcasts on BBC Sounds and lots of educational videos on iPlayer. Also, while aimed at the young, some of the resources for post-16 students are useful for all ages.