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#StayHome: Best Free Online Courses to Upskill Yourself During COVID-19 Work From Home

By: Shouvik Das

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Last Updated: April 09, 2020, 19:06 IST

Representative image.

Representative image.

With work from home protocol in place due to coronavirus lockdowns, here’s looking at some online courses that you can avail for free and grow your skill set.

The COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic has caused massive, worldwide disruption of normal life, with a vast majority of individuals, including government employees, being asked to work from home. As a result, it is likely that you will be self-quarantined at home, at least until the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control in India and abroad. During this time, it is likely that you would find it difficult to maintain your productivity by virtue of being stuck at home, and once the boredom and monotony sets in, you may want to start looking around for more options to keep yourself engaged. Here, we look at some of the best free online courses that can help you add more skills to your resume, to make the most of your time spent at home due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Coding and IT essentials

Built by Indian startup Guvi that was incubated in IIT Madras, here you find a vast array of online coding courses that can serve as key resources for evolving your career in information technology. If you work in India’s massive IT sector, this is a great repository of courses that can teach you to code and work on Python, Java, HTML, CSS and more. You also get courses that take you through the essentials of product management, giving you just the database that can help you add key skills to your CV while stuck at home in quarantine. The courses are all premium, but until March 31, can be availed for free by anyone from here.


If you have always fancied yourself as a writer, but circumstances led you to pursue a different path in your career, now may be the time to pick up the pen and hone your skills. If what you are looking for is just a slight nudge in the right direction, we’ve got your back. The Open University has an excellent, two-week course that is designed to help you start writing your own fiction novel. The course will help you learn key basic points about how you can design characters and weave storylines. It even offers a free statement of participation at the end of the course. Learn all about it here.


This is truly a one of a kind opportunity. The Professional Photographers of America has opened up their widely acclaimed and vast collection of online photography courses to the world, and for the next two weeks, all of their 1,100+ courses on photography, ranging from the very basics to intricate and detailed, are available for you to access for free. The art of photography, as we all know, is much vaunted and works as an incredibly satisfying passion. Access their courses by simply creating a free account on their website. As a thankful gesture, you can do your bit by spreading their word among similarly interested folks.

Smart cities

Been intrigued about all the discourse around smart cities, their key advantages and everything else that makes such cities the obvious way forward for mankind? This great two-week course with the Open University has you covered. In their own words, “You'll explore what it's like to live in a smart city, the role of systems thinking, living labs, open data, crowdsourcing and roadmaps. You'll debate challenges of privacy, ethics and security, and weigh up the value of leadership, standards and metrics. You'll learn how to co-create a smart city project where you live.” In many ways, such a course can help you be prepared to participate in future e-governance projects, and spark off a way to open up an all new career avenue in the near future. Join it here.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Like the PPA’s free library of photography courses, this here is also an incredible deal to avail in times of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Taught by Don Tapscott, executive director of the Blockchain Research Institute, the Blockchain Revolution Specialisation course hosted on popular online courses platform Coursera is right now available for free. The course focuses on giving its students a thorough understanding of blockchain, and learning how it can find practical application in real world situations. Rated as one of the best online courses on blockchain, and perhaps one of the best online courses overall, it does not require you to have prior coding knowledge, and only requires you to invest about 12 hours a week, which boils down to less than two hours a day. Avail it here.

Learn Mandarin Chinese

It is always a great skill to learn a new foreign language, and given the significant impact that China has on today’s global economy, knowing the basics of conversing in Mandarin Chinese is a very important skill to have. The Open University has just the right course for beginners in Mandarin Chinese, and teaches it through conversational techniques that will actually help you get a grasp on basic conversations in Mandarin Chinese. The course is also quite comprehensive, which should help you follow up with advanced courses in Chinese should you wish to, at a later stage. Learn all about it here.

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    Artificial intelligence

    The beauty of this course is that it can suit practically anyone — from an IT or management professional, to directorial executives, students, school and college teachers, journalists, technical writers, and more. Promoted by the University of Helsinki in Finland, the Elements of AI course is free for all to access, can be completed in your own time (but the University suggests following a six-week curriculum), and offers a great beginner course into understanding and learning the very key concepts of AI. It can help you get rid of misinformation around the subject, and is a great place to learn even more details of AI about. Sign up for it here.