How to Learn New Skills Online in No Time at All

In the past, people had limited means by which to learn new skills and abilities and, as such, studying a subject that held their interest could be challenging. They could, of course, take a book out of the library or buy one; seek out a mail-order course; or travel to access a teacher or expert in their area in order to undergo tuition with them.

While these options are still valid today, the wealth of resources laid at our feet thanks to the internet means that there are now many diverse and intriguing ways that people can pick up new skills. What’s more, these new methods are often entirely free, or available at a significant discount when compared to more traditional routes to training or tuition. Below we’re going to be taking a look at the range of options available to the curious at heart in 2024, should they want to pursue the acquisition of a new skill.

Explore Creators on YouTube


Over the years, YouTube has become a significant part of global culture and is now the definitive source for video content online. As such, those seeking to acquire new skills are certain to find videos out there designed to support them in their goals. Many creators on YouTube build their channels around providing help and guides for users seeking to educate themselves in the specific subject where their expertise lies.

Here you’ll find, for example, Van Neistat, an artist and handyman who is crafting a community of DIY and home maintenance fans on his growing channel. Those fond of calisthenics have access to world class personal trainers such as Adam Sinicki, who offers deep dives on biomechanics and exercise physiology over at his channel, The Bioneer. And knitting channel Sheep & Stitch provides its 400,000 subscribers with everything they need to know in order to refine and develop their needle skills.

What’s note-worthy about such YouTube channels and their creators is the collaborative element. Creators rely on delivering content that people want to see, and as such they’re always open to suggestions and willing to answer or address any questions viewers might have – often using these as jumping off points for creating further videos. Because of this collaborative element, channels often already feature a large catalogue of videos focused on answering many of the fundamental questions those seeking to learn a subject would naturally be moved to ask.

Consult Expert Online Guides


One of the most obvious means by which people can acquire information, tips and tricks relating to a specific subject online nowadays is through seeking out resources offered by prominent websites and the platforms associated with them.

For example, budding gardeners can consult the comprehensive guides offered by the Royal Horticultural Society, the UK’s leading gardening charity, to get the basic information on topics ranging from understanding growing seasons, to creating your own garden plan. Elsewhere, those wishing to nail down the basics rules, hand-rankings and terminology of poker can make use of the resources offered by the reputable online platform PokerStars, where they can find all the information they need to know to get started on this journey. Finally, those taking their first steps towards digital music production could do worse than exploring the beginners FAQ provided by Japanese electronic music manufacturer Roland, where novice producers can apprise themselves on the basics of equipment, sampling and mixing.

Take a Course


Those wanting to take a more in-depth approach to learning can investigate the various online courses and schools available to find one that addresses the subject or skill they are seeking to develop. Over the past 5 years, the range of offerings on e-learning platforms has risen exponentially, as has the general quality. The two best established platforms in this sector are Udemy and Skillshare, and while they share many similarities, there are note-worthy differences to account for between them.

For one, Udemy lets would-be learners browse and purchase the specific courses individually, whereas Skillshare offers its entire catalogue of courses to users through subscription access to the platform at large. Furthermore, Udemy is known to have a wider range of courses among its listings. From this fact it follows that you may only be able to find the right course for you among Udemy’s larger selection. Finally, one of the major differences between the two platforms is that every Skillshare course is structured around the completion of a hands-on project. As such, learners who find it difficult to retain information or develop their understanding without an element of practical application may end up being better served by Skillshare.

Even those with formal educational ambitions can be met by this modality, as platforms such as Coursera, which has been developed by Stanford University, works with a host of US colleges and educational institutes to offer certified and accredited foundation courses in a range of diverse subjects.

Join a Community


This option tends to occupy the middle ground between pursuing self-learning through YouTube videos, and signing up to a full e-learning course. Often creators and experts offer subscribers access to curated communities dedicated to their subjects. A prominent example of this is yogi Adriene Mishler’s Find What Feels Good community. This is a private subscriber social network and yoga platform that furnishes its patrons with a community space in which to share the experience of yoga together. It also serves as the premium tier of Mishler’s immensely popular Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel, offering additional classes and in-depth training on a range of topics relating to both the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga practice.

Many YouTube creators offer something similar through the use of subscriber platforms like Patreon, and this is often a good way to achieve greater access and interaction with a specific creator. Subscribers tend to have a say in what content or subjects get addressed, and frequent Q&As and guides enable patrons to go into much greater depth than that which can be achieved through public-facing platforms alone.

About Carolyn Lang