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Learning Tools

Free Resources to Help with Remote Learning in 2021

If you’re looking for software and services to augment online and blended instruction this year, start here.

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As the pandemic continues bringing change to higher education through the academic year, faculty, instructional designers and IT professionals are being more selective about the technology they choose for instructing and engaging students. While hundreds of education companies, nonprofits and other organizations made their software and services free during the immediate switch to remote learning, many have become more thoughtful about how they help educators master online and blended instruction. We've winnowed through our original collection and sprinkled additions throughout, to bring you this updated set of free resources to help with remote learning in 2021.

If your organization has a resource that should be added to this list, send a brief message to [email protected] with "free resource" in the subject header and include a link to your offer website.

Adobe has developed a resource hub for education with free templates, links to free software (including Adobe Acrobat, Sign, and tools for Google Drive) and videos with instructions for how to use the programs. is offering a free online classroom application to support remote teaching and learning at nonprofit educational institutions. The application enables one-to-one tutoring, small classroom work, lecture-hall class streaming, whiteboard collaboration, chat and a management console. The company is providing onboarding support. Registration required.

The American Writers Museum has brought its latest exhibit online. "My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today" shares personal stories about topics such as identity, community, language, storytelling and what it means to be an American from contemporary authors. Educational materials are available on the exhibit as well.

Arizona State University's EdPlus is working with Complexly's Crash Course on a series of entry-level course videos, covering composition, chemistry, data literacy, algebra and other subjects. (Complexly and Crash Course are an initiative of the Green brothers, hosts of a popular vlog and best-selling fiction.) The new content in "Study Hall" won't offer credit or replace any degree programs, but rather will serve as a supplement for high school or college learners.

bartleby is making free digital self-tutoring and writing services available to college students. Students can ask homework questions, which subject-matter experts will answer, or post a paper to have grammar and spelling checked.

Belouga and the #SameHere Global Alliance are making recorded versions of events with leading mental health organizations from around the world available for viewing.

Blackboard offers the File Transformer, a free resource enabling students to convert digital course content into alternative formats, to meet their unique learning needs and preferences. An outgrowth of the company's accessibility checker, Blackboard Ally, the new resource lets students personalize their learning experience and choose from several format types (PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX and HTML) to work better with mobile devices, assistive technologies and study tools.

BombBomb is offering free accounts for its video messaging tool to teachers, professors, counselors and administrators in the United States and Canada. The program allows educators to communicate with students and families face-to-face (virtually, of course) and provide feedback with the help of a screen recording. Video training on the software is available on video. Registration required.

Canva for Education is offering teachers forever-free access to the pro edition of its online design platform. The program, which is optimized for Chromebook, includes drag-and-drop tools to simplify visual communication. Students can create and co-create presentations, infographics, websites, reports, worksheets, posters, flyers and signage. The program includes access to tens of thousands of templates, images, icons, illustrations and fonts. Once teachers fill out the form, the company will verify the application. Registration required.

Casio has several resources available to help with math education. The company is providing free access to, a web-based calculator for calculations, graphing, geometry and statistics. There's also software to emulate Casio's most popular scientific and graphing calculators. The company has also begun posting videos on its YouTube channel to help students learn how to work through critical mathematical concepts using its calculators.

Cisco Webex is offering free accounts for education. Those meetings can have up to 100 participants, high-definition viewing, screen sharing and personal rooms. The company has also developed a collection of resources to help instructors and students use the online virtual conference program. Registration required.

Code with Google provides free lessons, to help students pick up computer science skills.

Codecademy's free "basic" membership offers introductory courses students can work through, covering gaming, web design, data science and other computer science and job development topics. Registration required.

Cornerstone, a workforce management company, has developed a series of "playlists" to help people — including teachers — adjust to working from home. Topics, including making the transition to online instruction and learning, stress management and working from home, are covered in "bite-sized" videos and downloadable guides. Access is free. Registration is required.

Course Hero is making free study guides available for literature, biology, chemistry and algebra. Each includes links to additional study resources submitted by students and educators from their own courses.

Dropbox has developed free "digital care packages," 25 different folders comprised of activities curated by creators, including artists, designers, foodies, musicians, writers and others. You can send them not just to others but to yourself too.

EasyUnitConverter enables conversion of all kinds of measurements.

EdSights has built a free text message bot that universities can use to support students. The bot allows schools to send "clear and immediate" information to students on university changes and operations as the COVID-19 situation evolves; the framework can be used to identify students who have been affected by the pandemic and need immediate help; and pre-built scripts can be used to promote health and wellness. According to the company, the chatbot takes about two hours to set up, can be launched remotely and does not require help from IT. Registration required.

Eduflow is making its lightweight learning management system free. The program allows educators to set up online courses that facilitate discussions, peer review, feedback and other learning activities. Registration required.

EZTexting is providing free emergency text alert services to institutions. To qualify, people need to sign up using their EDU e-mail address. They'll receive 100,000 free outgoing text messages for six months, access to a set of coronavirus message templates and one-on-one consulting. They also get a free keyword, with a short code to distribute to the community for quick sign-up. Registration required.

FeedbackFruits is offering free access to tools that make online courses more engaging. Functionality includes letting instructors add practice questions or discussion topics to their videos, documents, presentations and audio recordings; enable peer evaluation; provide inline feedback; and deliver automatic grading on any student interaction or assignment. The tools can be integrated into the learning management system. Once the instructor signs up, the company will be in touch to set up access.

Flipsnack is offering its classroom plan for free to educators. The program enables student groups to collaborate on the creation of digital magazines. Besides text, those can include videos, audio, links and other interactive elements. Registration required.

Good Calculators is providing a variety of free online calculators, to do math and statistics, engineering and conversions. The website also offers specialized calculators for financial, date and time, logistics, sales, sports and health.

Google's G Suite Enterprise for Education allows for the free use of Meet too, for video web conferencing. Meetings can have up to 100 participants. Temporary meeting recordings are available. Registration required.

GreyCampus offers free access to OpenCampus, its resource library on professional certifications; codelabs, which allows the student to run code in a browser; and a guide to building a career in cybersecurity. Flashcards and practice questions are also available.

Hallo is offering a free app to help students practice English. Hallo is a live-streaming community for English learners and teachers. Students can learn from native speakers through live videos 24/7 and practice speaking in seconds with people all around the world.

HelioCampus has released the LMS Explorer Kit, a free tool that allows institutions to extract and organize data from their learning management system to better inform resource planning and decision-making. Currently, Canvas and Blackboard Learn are supported. Registration required.

Hillsdale College, an independent liberal arts college in Michigan, is making a series of courses freely available. Current offerings cover American history, literature, politics and philosophy and religion. Each course provides multiple lectures with video or audio format. Registration required.

IBM is producing Open P-TECH, to help young people and educators pick up the basics in topics including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, as well as soft skills. Up until now, the P-TECH program has been provided as a model affiliated with schools. Now students who are 16 and older can register and participate on their own.

Instructure makes its learning management system, Canvas, free for education. The account never expires and offers all course creation and importing, "mastery paths" to lead students through personalized learning, native use on mobile devices, a gradebook, quizzing and other features that instructors need to move their students to online learning. Registration required.

Intelligent Education is promoting the use of its always-free software to help educators create online courseware. Tools let instructors record lectures with slides, images and video clips and add 3D models, quizzes. The company also has 34 courses on in its catalog that various instructors have produced and made available. Registration required.

IObit is making a utility free to help remote users speed up performance of their Windows devices. "Internet Boost" is a feature included in the company's Advanced SystemCare pro version. According to IObit, the software removes "junk files" to release more space; helps increase internet speed by "taking advantage of your maximum network bandwidth," removes privacy traces left by multiple programs; and dumps startup processes that are slowing down startup.

Kahoot! offers a basic version of its game-based learning software for free.

Kapwing has a free basic version of its collaborative online image and video editor with a cloud storage workspace. Registration required.

Kialo Edu is a free platform that helps educators encourage thoughtful classroom discussion and assist them in the teaching of critical thinking. The online service lets faculty start private discussions within their classes, provide students with feedback and ask them follow-up questions and create teams within the class section. Registration required.

Labster, which provides virtual laboratory simulations, has made its software available to colleges. Some 100 lab experiments cover biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and general sciences, which students can perform "at their own pace." (On the sign-up form, ignore the K-12 verbiage. This offer extends to colleges and universities affected by closures.) Registration required.

LabXchange from Harvard University is an always-free resource that provides digital content compiled from multiple sources in the sciences, including lab simulations, which educators can mix into their own learning narratives and share with students. Among the functionalities provided are social networking, class groupings, discussion forums and "mentorship" (to bring learners together with educators and researchers around the world).

Lionbridge, a company that provides data for research and machine learning, has compiled a collection of open datasets related to COVID-19.

Loom is making its quick-response video software free for educators forevermore. The program captures a person's screen, voice and face and allows for editing, "instant sharing" and controlled viewing. Registration with an EDU e-mail required.

Lumen has opened access to most of its supplemental resources aligned with the 50-plus courses in its main catalog. Those resources include slide decks, question banks, assignments and discussion forums.

Mathematica, in partnership with the National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO), has compiled a set of COVID-19 resources, including public databases, tools and insights relevant to the pandemic, which may be useful for academic research.

Microsoft provides colleges and universities with a free set of productivity applications — including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote — for those schools that haven't adopted a software suite yet. Office 365 A1 also comes with services, including OneDrive (for storage and file transfer), Teams (for web communications), Forms (for quizzes) and other utilities useful for collaboration.

Omni Calculator is continuing to make its 1,528 calculators available free. Each one is targeted to help students and others handle any type of equation or conversion imaginable.

OnScale, which produces a cloud-based engineering simulation platform, is offering its customers free cloud core-hours, to enable people to keep working on engineering projects remotely. Registration required.

The Open Textbook Library offers access to hundreds of openly licensed textbooks, which can be downloaded for free or printed at a low cost. Subjects include accounting and finance, business, computer science, education, math, national sciences, social sciences and student success, among others. The compilation is maintained by the nonprofit Center for Open Education in the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development.

OpenStax continues making its open source digital textbooks in core college and Advanced Placement subjects freely available.

Pantone is offering free access to Pantone Connect. The tool enables designers and artists to build and share color palettes, convert and cross-reference colors and match Pantone colors through Adobe Creative Cloud.

PBS has been gaining traction among educators with "PBS American Portrait," an initiative that invites Americans to share stories from their lives, about their families and communities, their joys, struggles and triumphs. As more people upload personal content related to COVID-19, the site has become what PBS is calling "a living archive of how we're all processing this crisis." Instructors are teaching students about storytelling and personal narratives while also allowing them to speak to their mental and emotional well-being, by answering questions posed on the site, such as, "I never expected ..." and "What gets me out of bed in the morning ...."

PBS LearningMedia has recently opened up a "Ken Burns in the Classroom" hub, making this filmmaker's series available in its entirety. Titles include The Civil War, Jazz, The War and The Dust Bowl and others.

Pearson has developed guidance for higher education faculty and students on how to cope with online learning. For faculty, articles and videos cover such topics as how to use screencasting, how to use discussion boards to increase class engagement and how to deter cheating in an online class. Students can read about how to stay motivated when learning online, how to cope with a professor canceling class and how to get access to digital versions of textbooks at no additional charge.

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a free resource for writing tips and assignments, research and citation tutorials, and instructor and tutor materials. Contents include general writing exercises, including sentence-level writing, grammar and editing; common writing assignments, including book reports, bibliographies and research papers; the OWL YouTube channel, which includes lessons on grammar, rhetoric, and professional and technical writing; and online tutoring for Purdue students, faculty and staff.

RingCentral has made its phone, team messaging and videoconferencing service free to education organizations. Each video meeting can have up to 200 participants. Those institutions that already have the service can get increased meeting participant limits.

Notebook maker Rocketbook has made downloadable PDFs available free for students and educators. The collection includes graph paper, lined paper, music notation sheets and letter dot-grid sheets, among others.

SimTutor has released three free healthcare simulations for infection prevention procedures, covering the use of soap and water, hand sanitizer and personally protective equipment.

SimX has released two free multiplayer virtual reality training resources focused on the evaluation and management of COVID-19. Developed by doctors working in Washington and California, these cases enable healthcare professionals and students to practice working with personal protective equipment, triage, evaluation and inpatient treatment of COVID-19 patients. The programs work with Oculus Quest or HTC Vive devices. Registration required.

SoloLean is a free advertising-driven platform for learning to code. Topics cover Python, C++, SQL, Java, JavaScript and Ruby among others. The app offers access to 2,000 courses, tailored from people with a range of skills, from beginner to professional. The company also curates lesson tracks, such as "Become a Data Scientist," "Become a Web Developer" and "Become a Full Stack Developer." The app includes quizzes and an online community for help. A paid version removes the ads. Registration required.

Teamplace, a European company, has a free version of its team cloud storage service. Up to 10 members can access up to 5 GB of capacity. According to the company, the more team members that accept an invitation to a "Teamplace," the more Teamplaces can be set up permanently for free. Registration required.

Top Hat lets faculty add engaging activities to their remote instruction, including live discussions, presentations, quizzing and automated attendance. Free to instructors; freemium for students. Registration required.

TypingDNA is providing its typing biometrics authentication API service free. Schools can run it within their learning management platforms to enable students to prove their identities by simply typing a short text on their keyboards.

Unity Technologies is providing curriculum and Unity licenses to education for instructors who want to help their students learn 3D and game development.

Upkey is continually accepting applications for virtual internships, offering students opportunities to develop their skills. The multi-week program is free to students and lets them learn from expert sources, conduct their own research and complete interactive projects around a specific subject.

Valarea, a software company based in the United Kingdom, is making its digital collaboration software free to educators. The program can be embedded in existing collaboration programs, including Microsoft Teams, to provide quick access to a meeting site with a digital whiteboard; screensharing; and audio, video and chat.

Validity has released a new crisis communications program. "Validity for Good" is available as a free service for institutions of higher education. The company explained that the program grants access to the "Return Path E-mail Certification" service, which gives e-mail campaigns "trusted treatment to help ensure that their critical e-mails arrive in inboxes, not spam folders." By using this e-mail delivery service, schools can ensure messages related to public safety and COVID-19 reach their subscribers.

VEX Robotics has launched VEXcode Virtual Robot, a free web-based tool for delivering computer science lessons for those who don't have access to a physical VEX Robot at home. There are no software installations required, and the program functions on all major desktops and tablets.

Wave Learning Festival, a nonprofit, is offering a free online platform for college students to teach courses that they're "passionate about" to middle and high school students.

Wooclap has made its software free for educators to use "forever." The program helps instructors inject interactivity into remote lessons through quizzes, polls, wordclouds and other methods. The platform also includes flashcards ("wooflash"), which promote student memorization and comprehension while generating data to help educators track student progress.

Zoom has lifted the 40-minute meeting limit on its free basic accounts for education, enabling instructors to videoconference with students in real time.

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