Free online courses to expand your breadth of knowledge

Post-secondary institutions have a lot of barriers, such as financial limitations or scheduling conflicts. Women continue to make up the majority of university enrollment, yet employment and parenthood can prevent further education. The cost and intense schedule of university is not realistic for everyone.

No matter your level of formal education, there are courses available to you outside of the traditional university setting. Here are several online courses available in Ontario. You can complete them at your own pace, in your own time, and they are all free of charge.

Gale Courses

You can take Gale courses with a library card from any Ontario library. Anyone who lives, works or goes to school in a municipality with a library can get a library card.

You can access Gale through your public library’s website, such as the Toronto Public Library or the Waterloo Public Library. Both sites have links to their custom login pages.

Once you log in with your library card information, you can browse more than 360 courses available through Gale.

College instructors teach the Gale courses and a new section begins every month. Lessons are assigned twice a week and you can work through them at your own pace. Gale includes a traditional university component with virtual discussion boards.

Photo by Mimi Thian

You can learn languages like Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Or you can dive into financial literacy with courses like “Stocks, Bonds, and Investing: Oh, My!” 

You can take computer literacy courses like “Introduction to Microsoft Office 365.” You can also hone your writing skills with courses like “Grammar Refresher” or “Keys to Effective Communication.”

LinkedIn Learning

Another service available to people with an Ontario library card is LinkedIn Learning. You can log in with your library card number and PIN.

You can also do a free one-month trial without a library card if you have a LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn Learning courses cover professional development. Video lessons range from 20 minutes to five hours. You can either learn a new skill or improve one you already have.

Courses range from everyday skills like “Speaking Confidently and Effectively” to professional skills like “Google Sheets Essential Training.”

You can take as many LinkedIn Learning courses as you’d like, whenever you’d like.

Learning Hub

Learning Hub is a free program available to adults in Ontario. Employment Ontario runs the program through the federal government. To register for this free program, all you need is a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Learning Hub offers courses like “Conquer Your Fear of Digital Technology” or “Feeding a Family.” Through these courses, you can learn skills like budgeting, meal planning and healthy eating.

Learning Hub recommends you complete a minimum three hours of work per week to continue in a module.


edX is an online resource of both self-guided and concurrent courses. The courses are taught through universities across Canada and the United States. Their mission statement is to “increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere.”

edX has more than 3,000 courses and 35 million registered users on their website.

Programs range from architecture to philosophy and courses hone in on specific topics within these disciplines. 

Courses include “Question Reality! Science, Philosophy, and the Search for Meaning,” “International Women’s Health and Human Rights,” and many more. 

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