Lots of free things aren’t worth much. I definitely believe that you often get what you pay for. But life also incorporates a “grace quotient” where you receive things you didn’t earn—good things. Here are a few worthwhile online resources for educating yourself at only the cost of your time and attention.

  • More Lists: I’m listing here things I’ve found and enjoyed personally. If you want more of a library of links for free, high-quality online education resources arranged by topic, click here.
  • Video Lectures: Academic Earth offers free video lectures from leading universities like Yale. I’m currently viewing a semester-long course on literary theory. Check out this Boston Globe guide to free online video lectures.
  • Audio Books: Librivox offers classic works you can download free in iTunes or as mp3s. Like ye olde books on tape, but better: for these, you don’t even have to visit the library. Hm. Perhaps that’s not better. Or I’ll just need another excuse. Books Should Be Free has more free audio books. And Rene at Budget Saving Mom aggregates a list of free kids’ books for learning and long car rides.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts are audio files you can download by subscribing to them in a player like iTunes or Windows Media Player. It’s basically like a cassette tape set without the cassette tapes or radio show you can listen to whenever you want. There are so many podcasts you could spend your life listening, but I wanted to highlight a few I’ve found especially interesting and informative.
    • This American Life. In-depth stories centered around a different theme each week, well-researched and entertainingly told from a team of NPR-affiliated writers and producers. They also often work with the Planet Money guys, who offer another entertaining and human-sounding look into deciphering the world of home and world economics.
    • Religion and apologetics: It’s always going on at Issues, Etc., and the White Horse Inn. Learn to think critically about what you believe and what others believe. Join the conversation by writing in before or after episodes. You might also find the Relevant Magazine podcast interesting—its editors discuss Christianity, world events, and pop culture more from a twentysomething, media-saturated perspective.
    • The Economist. Weekly rundowns and in-depth interviews from one of the world’s best global news magazines.  They offer both audio and video podcasts; be sure to use the link here rather than surfing from their home page, or you might only find the subscription-based “audio version” of their print magazine.

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