Shut-In Guide: Free Online Resources

In lieu of our gargantuan events calendar, we’ve comprised a long list of free resources to dive into while social distancing from home. Embark on these free classes, games, software and streaming services, health and wellness apps and resources, and other miscellaneous items.   

Online Courses Provides access to over 2500 online courses from 140 top institutions that are free to enroll with an option for certificates at an additional cost. Start learning over 20 languages absolutely for free, watching and learning from native speakers. Memrise is available online, on Android, and iOS. With free 300 hours courses in responsive web design, JavaScript, APIs, front end libraries Information security, this a great resource that can teach everything from printing hello world to landing a job (which they also have a course for). Taking these courses are completely free, though certificates do have an additional cost.  ‘ Skill Share is offering 2 month of premium for free. Explore new skills, deepen existing passions, and get lost in creativity. What you find just might surprise and inspire you. Coursea offers over 1400 free classes and right now they are offering almost 100 course certificates for free. This language learning resource is offering free learning for K-12 and college students. For everyone else, they are offering 50% their subscription price for a limited time.    

Online Resources for Children   

A large list of activities for children was put together into a google doc and shared on reddit. It has many great resources. Check it out    


Netflix Party: Netflix Party is a Chrome extension for watching Netflix remotely with friends, e.g., for movie nights with that long-distance special someone. It synchronizes video playback and adds group chat. Unfortunately this one is only for Chrome, although there are many other alternatives. Techsmith is making their screen capture and recording tool as well as their video review software free through the end of June. GIMP is a great open source photoshop alternative. Don’t let the name be off-putting, GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, and you can change its source code and distribute your changes. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. Making this software a lot easier to recommend than a 7-day free trial from Adobe Creative Cloud.  

Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe is making temporary at-home access to Creative Cloud available until May 31 for schools and colleges who currently have only lab access for students, at no additional cost. For non-students, there is also a 7-day free trial as well as 25% off.    


Browser Based & Mobile This free multiplayer drawing and guessing game allows you to play with people from all over the world or just with a close group of friends. You never seem to encounter the same words very often but this drawing game does allow for custom words, and can be great fun for all ages.  

Cards Against Humanity Online: The party game for horrible people can played online with friends in this unofficial clone that has been around for several years. After setting a nickname, you have the option to join someone else’s game or create your own, currently it is difficult to create your own game due to the high number of concurrent users. If you can create your own game, you do have the option to create a password to ensure you will only be playing with friends. Lichess is an open-source Internet chess server. Anyone can play anonymously, although players may register an account on the site to play rated games. All features are available for free, as the site is funded by donations. You can join a game or create a private game. They also have android and iOS apps.   

Words With Friends 2: This free to play word puzzle game is great way to kill some time and can serve as a great way to have fun with friends and family, you can play up to 40 games at once.  Available on Android and iOS.  


Risk: Everybody wants to rule the world! Now you can play the classic game of RISK online. This free to play title is available on Steam, Android, and iOS. This game also features cross play, offers a seamless online experience, and features a very intuitive UI.   

Catan Universe: Have you ever wanted to play Catan online with friends for free? With Catan Universe this is possible, but it is far from a seamless experience. Figuring out how to setup a game with friends without singing in is a bit of a challenge and the controls are not at all intuitive. The reviews of this game are mostly negative because of this but let me assure you it is possible and is not too bad, if you have the patience. If you don’t have the patience and want to play board games with friends online just buy table top simulator. You can thank me later.  

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Counter Strike is a tactical team-based shooter with over 20 years of history. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive went free to play a couple of years back but has a bevy of cosmetic items you can waste money on. This is a title that many have found themselves immersed in, spending hundreds if not thousands of hours playing this game. Making a great pick for times like these, which is why it has seen the highest level of concurrent players in recent weeks and is one of the most played games on Steam  

VR Chat: Released 3 years ago VR Chat is a free title that was designed to allow a place of nearly infinite possibilities. VR Chat is something that is difficult to describe and as I have not experienced it myself it would be best to use this description “Imagine a world where anything is possible. Join a game of capture the flag in outer space. Share stories around a campfire while roasting marshmallows, then moments later experience a retro game of bowling with an alien and robot. In VRChat there is something around every corner that will delight, thanks to the power of true user generated content. Jump into hundreds of awe inspiring environments and meet unique avatars every day. Watch a movie on the moon. Ride the Titanic. Step into a new world every time you come online.” This title allows for so many different outlets for creativity, community, and expression that you would likely be able to find a variety of ways to entertain yourself.    

More Free Games on Steam: 

Epic Games gives a few titles for free a month. Early last month they were offering Watch_Dogs and The Stanley Parable, which unfortunately are no longer available. Although you can now pick up the World War Z game which is a co-op third person shooter in the same vein as Left 4 Dead. This is only available until April 2, but once a title is in your library it is yours forever. Also available on April 2 is the indie title Gone Home that was released in 2013 which received much praise. This title is unlike many video games as it is just an exploration game. There are no bosses, no danger, just exploration. The plot of Gone home reads: “June 7th, 1995. 1:15 AM. You arrive home after a year abroad. You expect your family to greet you, but the house is empty. Something’s not right. Where is everyone? And what’s happened here? Unravel the mystery for yourself…” This drm free game platform has a selection of free games from its catalog worth checking out.   

Video Streaming Made by Sony, crackle is an AD supported free steaming service with movies, Tv shows, and original content. No account required just for viewing. Ad supported movie and TV streaming on IMDB. This service is free and only accessible on a PC. Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. This a free service that does not require an account. Everything on here is public domain so if you like black and white movies this is an amazing resource. An account is required for this one and does have some overlap into other services for some titles. This does offer free movies and other content such as podcasts. Pluto allows you to watch 100s of channels for free as well as some on-demand movie content. If you want to catch up on some old school Bond flicks, this is the platform for you.    

Health and Wellness 

Nike Training Club App: This Android and iOS app made by Nike now has all of its workouts free for the foreseeable future. Headspace is a mindfulness app that is going free. Planet fitness wants to encourage others to stay active while at home and will be offering free fitness classes, livestreamed via facebook, at 4 p.m. daily. 19 minute yoga is livestreaming free yoga classes on their youtube channel. They also have an app on iOS, but sadly not Android. Aura is a mindfulness app that helps users take care of their emotions, get restful sleep, and in their own words “become the best you.” Aura will be free for Android and iOS users for the next 3 months. Calm offers free resources to help users stay grounded and support mental and emotional wellness.    


Virtual Assembly: A website devoted to sharing virtual events, courses, tools, and more to help people stay connected, updated daily.  

U-Haul: Offers 30 Days Free Self-Storage amid Coronavirus Outbreak for college students.