If lifelong learning is one of your passions, or something you plan on pursuing in Retirement, there are many avenues to explore. This column will take a look at a half dozen free online resources that are there for the taking – all you need is a computer – and a little motivation!

  • www.free-ed.net. Classes in Math, Science, Business, Health Care, Computer Programming, and Electronics, as well as GED and College Preparatory classes. Their site claims that more than 500 student enroll each month.
  • www.thirdage.com. Free workshops in the area of Health, Finance, Travel, Romance, Beauty, and Online Communities. Current titles include “Weight Loss that Works,” “Web Basics,” “Get Ready to Invest,” and “Finding Love Online.”
  • www.mit.edu (click on “Education” then “OpenCourseWare”). Yes, that MIT – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shares more than 1800 courses online ranging from topics on Anthropology to Zoology.
  • www.yale.edu (click on “Free Yale College Courses Debut Online”). Not be outdone, Yale offers “Open Yale Courses” such as “Introduction to the Old Testament,” “Fundamentals of Physics,” “Modern Poetry,” and “Death.”
  • www.sba.gov (click on “Services” then “Online Training” then “Free Online Courses). The U.S. Small Business Administration offers classes for small business owners, or those who are interested in starting a business. Most are self-paced, and include topics such as “Developing a Successful Business Plan,” “How to Find Start-up Funding,” and “Accounting 101 – the Fundamentals.”
  • u.about.com About.com has its own “About U,” a collection of free courses in 25 categories. As its site states, “Each online course is sent to you via email on a daily or weekly basis and is designed to help you learn a specific skill or solve a particular problem. There are no grades or degrees, only a whole lot of free online learning.”

So, if you\’d rather be hitting the books than hitting golf balls, settle into your computer chair, get that cup of coffee, and delve into the myriad offerings at your fingertips.

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."