There are a number of ways in which someone can learn for free, expanding his or her knowledge and connecting with other people who share an area of interest. Self education can be performed at any age, and it can be very beneficial. Beyond personal enrichment, it can stimulate the brain, or provide new opportunities and possibilities. Learning does not have to be confined to the classroom, in the case of people who are motivated and ready to learn.
One great resource for someone who wants to learn for free is community organizations and societies. Many communities have groups which meet to promote and discuss topics which can range from rose cultivation to birdwatching, and these organizations welcome guests who want to participate. Many also lead classes, workshops, and field trips, in which a volunteer provides information for people who are curious. In addition to providing access to lots of educational materials for free or at very low cost, these organizations also provide a network of people who are interested in the same thing.
Many communities also have workshops, lectures, and other events which may be organized by local libraries, colleges, or action groups. These events are typically free of charge, and they can vary from a film watching and discussion to a lecture about an emerging issue. Information about these events is provided in places like the community pages of a newspaper, a community bulletin board, or a website which provides a clearinghouse of local events.
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For people who want to learn for free but can't find an organization which covers their topic of interest, starting a club can be a powerful tool. Someone who wants to learn French, for example, could find French speakers and other French learners who would like to get together and work with each other. It is also possible to offer one on one trade of knowledge, with two people exchanging skills or information, like someone who teaches someone else how to knit in exchange for learning how to weave. Community bulletin boards, list servers, websites, and word of mouth can all be used to organize clubs and exchanges.
Libraries are another excellent resource for people who want to learn for free. Most libraries have interlibrary lending agreements, which means that if they do not have the materials necessary, they can order them from another library. Librarians are happy to help patrons who are interested in researching a particular subject, and a librarian may know about a local group or organization which could provide more information and support.
For people who like more directed learning opportunities, some colleges allow members of the community to audit their classes. When people audit, they sit in on a class and participate, but they do not submit homework or receive a grade. In some cases, auditing for free is a possibility, while in other instances, the college may charge. It is also possible to find free classes online, although people should be careful about signing up for such classes, as they sometimes come with a caveat, such as a deluge of emails encouraging students to take fee courses.