Productivity

8 great classes to help you upskill yourself

© Slow Life Good Life
New year, new you? Make it stick by learning some new abilities with these outstanding virtual lessons.
Written by Joe EllisonPublished on
There’s a lot more to life indoors than binging TV boxsets while picking your Fantasy Football team (exceptional multitasking though it is). For starters, you could consider an online class.
Virtual learning has never been bigger. Fuelled in part by the exponential rise in home working over the past year – when creatives and specialists suddenly had time to reflect and share their industry learnings with an increasingly present audience – even prior to lockdown, forecasters had predicted the online education market would reach £262bn by 2025.
But with all the choice that's now on offer, it can be hard to know which class would hit the spot and turn your at-home time into a productive and enjoyable experience. What's more, it could tap into a passion point – turning today's hobby into tomorrow's career.
To save you searching around for the best virtual classes, here's a rundown of eight types of remote learning you can sink your teeth into…

1. Glean tips from a chess grandmaster

Grandmaster Garry Kasparov teaching chess on educational platform Masterclass.
How did Masterclass pay Garry Kasparov? By cheque, mate
With everyone and their dog raving about The Queen’s Gambit right now, what better way of polishing your own Sicilian Defence than with a lesson direct from chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. As intimate as it is absorbing, this seminar from Masterclass – shot just as sumptuously as the aforementioned Netflix hit – will feel as though you’re sat at the table with the Russian himself, learning key strategies (openings, sacrifices, middle and end games) and witnessing a chess genius in his natural habitat, unguarded, cogs whirring. At £14.70 per month, a Masterclass membership will give you unlimited access to a host of other A-list talents. The knights will fly by...

2. Kick ass with code

Looking for an introduction into the world of coding? At Codecademy (£15.99 per month), you’ll be writing the stuff within minutes – no matter your level. Solve coding challenges, watch live web sessions from industry pros, and learn how to build basic programmes in Python, one of the fasted growing programming languages. For those with serious ambition, Skill Paths and Career Paths ensure that you don’t waste time learning the wrong things.
On a similar note, any aspiring female coders would also be wise to check out Code First Girls, a two-month rolling fellowship providing the skills and inspiration to become the ‘kick ass leaders and developers’.

3. Improve your culinary skills

A promo shot for UK-based online food club 'Slow Life Good Life'
Slow Life Good Life aims to keep you motivated, well-fed and healthy (ish)
Much like Autobots and Decepticons, there’s more than meets the eye to Slow Life Good Life, a wellness-minded cookery club based in South West England. Its lip-smackingly good online classes – ranging from Naomi Devlin’s gluten-free goodies to a regular live cook-in from co-founder Steven Lamb’s cottage kitchen in Dorset – directly support local businesses in rural areas, particularly during what’s been a tough time for the hospitality industry of late. The ethos of every class is geared towards expanding your cooking skills and self-reliance, and for £5.99 a month, it’s a bargain.
Once you’ve refined your palate with these guys, you can always dive into the Vice's food video back catalogue for more of a calorific inspiration.

4. Unleash your inner fitness animal

If Joe Wicks squat jumping while dressed as a frog is permanently seared into your retina, now might be time to mix up your indoor exercise regime. “Listen, Joe, we’ve had a good summer, but it’s time for us to move on and meet new people, etc.” Not least because luxury London-based gym empire Third Space has a bundle of free classes on its Instagram channel, all taught by some of the best fitness instructors in the capital. Limber up with Yin Yoga, unleash your inner animal with Primal Flow or go the distance with some boxing classes. You'll be channelling your inner Rocky in no time at all.

5. Learn how to be funny

Steve Martin for a comdy seminar on Masterclass
Steve Martin reveals the unwritten rules of comedy in this slick seminar
It’s easy to forget that Hollywood funnyman Steve Martin was once a ground-breaking stand-up. Deconstructing comedy before it was cool, his laconically alternative sets would sell out arenas the size of stadiums, but – as he explained in his memoir Born Standing Up – by 1981 he felt he’d achieved all he could and exited stage left for a career in film. But now, for Masterclass (£14.70 per month), he reveals his craft, including the importance of an opening line, why editing is key, and why talent doesn’t actually matter. If you’ve been tempted by an open mic night or simply want to ensure those quips at the office kitchen land every time, this is how to be funny.

6. Produce a hit record in your bedroom

Young Guru featuring for a DIY sound production class on Skillshare
Young Guru will help you produce studio quality music minus the studio
Bedroom production is alive and well. Just ask FINNEAS, brother of Billie Eilish, who wrote and produced much of his sister’s hit music from inside their family home. In AWAL’s Spaces series, free to watch on YouTube, he gives a tour of the home, explaining how the pair achieved specific sounds such as standing in a bathroom striking matches.
But for an even more detailed look at production on a shoestring budget head over to Skillshare (from £13 per month), where Jay Z’s long-time sound engineer Young Guru provides virtual classes on DIY sound engineering, including one on how to master your own songs from home like a pro, even disclosing how to rearrange your bedroom to achieve the optimum acoustic sound.

7. Study at HarvardX

A promo image for HarvardX's Masterpieces of World Literature Class
Unearth the past, present and future of world literature with this class
There are much easier ways to snag some study time at Harvard than mopping hallways by day and solving maths problems on chalkboards by night. If only Will Hunting had known about HarvardX, an online hub packed with free courses and a few paid ones. Masterpieces of World Literature (£149) is not to be missed. Over 12 weeks you’ll learn how to critically analyse literary works and revisit the seismic technological shifts in writing throughout history. Put in the hard work (5-7 hours a week) and you’ll be on your way towards a nice certificate.
If you’re a little more time constrained, however, over at The Idler, literature fans can enjoy a number of lessons on everything from Dickens to romantic philosophy (prices vary) at their own pace.

8. Master another language

There are a lot of big hitters out there when it comes to language apps, but, pound for pound, Duolingo could be considered the champ. Its quiz-based learning interface offers users the chance to win experience points and subsequently move up (and sadly down) league tables, competing against other users for those coveted promotion spots. Yep, essentially FIFA Ultimate Team for language nerds, it will fast become unputdownable as you hone your chosen language skills without even realising it. Pro Membership (from £7.49 per month), awarding you unlimited lives, is well recommended.
BONUS PICK:
For some deeper, more profound lessons from the biggest artists in music, explore the archives of Red Bull Music Academy’s lecture series, where you’ll find hundreds of seminars and line-up so stellar it would put Glasto to shame. Brian Eno, M.I.A, A$AP Rocky, Iggy Pop, Charlotte Gainsbourg, the Wu Tang Clan, and Nile Rodgers are just a few of the diverse acts you can see explaining their process followed by live Q&As.
Going all out on staying in this December? Go to redbull.co.uk/hometime for more tips on how to make the most of your home time and for the chance to get wiiings delivered to your door.