If this was any other year, you’d probably be off planning your vacation or preparing for the holidays as you settle into the -ber months. Unfortunately, an unprecedented global pandemic made sure this year wouldn’t be like any other, leaving you stuck at home and putting your plans on hold for the foreseeable future.

Two things are sure -- you are bored, and you have a lot of time in your hands. By now, you're looking for new hobbies that will make your days well worth it. That's where we come in. 

rain-20242_1920 Bored because of this pandemic? Better use it to learn something new or useful then. Photo: Photo by Pixabay (CC0)

The Rise of Online Courses

Enter online courses, which are crazy popular these days. Combining the best of traditional education and leaps in modern technology, online courses are a great way for people from all walks of life to get quality education from just about any subject and topic there is, all from the comforts of their own home!

They’re convenient, as you control your time and are given more flexibility. Saving time and money in transportation is also a big plus, as well as the community around it that you can join. And with so many options to choose from, you are sure to never run out of things to learn.

But alas, that also means that it can be tricky to look for a topic that you’ll actually invest some time and effort in.

We’ve compiled some of the best platforms online to help narrow down your choices. Here are our top picks:

1. Masterclass

Masterclass Masterclass offers video courses from the world's greatest. Photo: masterclass.com

Interested in learning how to write from your favorite author? Or perhaps understanding what goes on behind the camera lens is more your speed? Or how about a director you look up to telling you what it’s like to sit in the director’s chair and make a movie? If so, then Masterclass is for you.

Easily one of the best online learning platforms today, Masterclass specializes in one thing, and that is to bring you lessons and classes from the world’s greatest. Whether it’s about sports & games, politics & society, film & TV, design, photography & fashion, music & entertainment, culinary arts, writing, lifestyle, and science & technology.

With Masterclass, you can now pay to have your favorite director, musician, cook, photographer, or even skateboarder teach you about their stories, what made them the person they are, their successes, failures, shortcuts, tips, tricks and secrets, all offered via video lessons that are given alongside course materials.

The lessons are also available across multiple devices. With over 85+ classes from the masters, each course has an average of about 20 lessons lasting 10 minutes each. Masterclass is perfect for people who want deeper insights from the people they look up to in the fields they adore, all while simultaneously learning from them at their own pace. It’s also for people that want to learn practical skills, ignite old (and new) passions, or simply grab some wisdom.

If you’re one of these people, simply choose from Masterclass’ offerings here.

2. ArtistWorks, Inc.

Artistworks ArtistWorks specializes in providing you with the best online music education the internet can provide, offered by the industry professionals. Photo: artistworks.com

Are you someone who pores over music obsessively and wonders how it’s written? Or maybe you’re someone who’s interested in learning how to play an instrument? Perhaps you’re already an amateur musician already looking to advance your skills? If so, then we can’t blame you. Music, after all, is one of the greatest forms of art that most would have enjoy learning and developing, be it by picking up an instrument or honing your songwriting skills.

Thankfully, ArtistWorks is here to make it even easier for you. Established back in 2008, ArtistWork is an online learning platform made for artists, both aspiring and professional. Dedicated to providing anyone in the world with affordable and interactive music education from their online video exchange method, ArtistWorks connects you with master teachers that have years of performing, recording and teaching under their belt.

Committed to making you the best musician possible, ArtistWorks provides online courses for 40+ instruments, including guitar, banjo, bluegrass guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, voice, bass, piano, violin, cello, fiddle, drums, hip-hop scratching and so much more, all offered in various genres depending on the type of music you like.

Not only that, but the platform’s video exchange learning module will also make sure you get your money’s worth by allowing teachers to guide your actual progress, be it through practice videos or tailored video feedback. Lastly, the platform also lets you join a community of like-minded individuals, where you can interact, make friends and encourage each other’s growth in music.

With this, ArtistWorks gives you all of the resources to become the musician you want. All that’s left to do is put in the hours.

3. A Beautiful Mess

ABM A Beautiful Mess offers DIY online courses that will help spark your creative juices. Photo: abeautifulmess.com

Are you a homebody looking for a savvy skill to pick up while waiting out this new normal to return to just...normal? Think you can be a great blogger but just don’t know where to begin? Or do you have all the resources to be a photographer but don’t have the know-how? If so, then the online courses offered by A Beautiful Mess might just be your cup of tea.

As an online learning platform, A Beautiful Mess actually started as a DIY blog before deciding to develop courses that would address the many queries raised by their audience over the years. Because of this, the courses that they offer are as natural and organic as they can be, given via easy and manageable lessons taught through text, photos, and videos -- all broken down for you to retain easier.

Additionally, ABM’s teachers, all of which are creatives themselves, are dedicated to teaching you with the same love, creativity and passion that the company aims to deliver. At the moment, ABM offers courses in starting a podcast, photography, how to elevate your Instagram, video shooting and editing basics, launching your small business, and many more. You may view their courses here, and start on your own road to self-discovery.

4. Whizlabs

Whizlabs A sample course from Whizlabs, which focuses on technology and innovation. Photo: whizlabs.com

If you prefer learning about technology and all its inner workings, Whizlabs is your best bet. From learning how hardware systems work to familiarizing yourself with code, you can find it all here.

Dedicated to providing global quality training in technology and innovation, Whizlabs specializes in online courses in various tech disciplines such as blockchain, CCNA, cloud computing, Java, and the like.

Initially launched in 2000, Whizlabs has since completed about 20 years of success, helping more than three million professionals get the knowledge that they need to either advance their careers or help jumpstart it.

Signing up for one of Whizlabs’ courses provides you with PDUs, self-study training, exam simulators, experts support and lifetime access to the course content, as well as certifications upon course completions.

At the moment, Whizlabs offers courses for cloud computing, DevOps, cybersecurity, big data, Java, Linux, IT Ops, Business Analysis, and the like. So if you’re ready to take the plunge and learn something very useful in today’s times, you may check all of the courses they offer here.

These four platforms can give you hours and hours of content, education, and training, to help you come out of this pandemic with a new skill or two, whether it’s merely recreational or something you can use to advance you and your career as a person. Now, it’s all up to you.