GCFLearnFree.org ; Educate Yourself… For Free
I did not simply stumble onto the GCF Learn Free Website! There was already an ongoing goal for me once I discovered this site. I actually have been thinking into getting into the Web Design field because, it really encompasses the things I would love to experience while on the job. Not to mention that I am getting my creativity on for someone’s benefit. of course you get paid, but who cares about money these days? (BAHAHA sarcasm). So, I searched and search and found nothing truly helpful or supplemental even to the several forums on different topics of web design. So, I began my learning with the Microsoft Excel program on GCFLearnFree and was surprised how simple it was. I learned Excel at my own pace (3 Days!), for free, and can use it to it’s full potential. The lessons are very straight forward and are practically read to you if you opt to watch the videos for each lesson. The “homework” at the end of each lesson really drives the focal points home and creates a more immersive learning experience than when I was sitting in the most dull class lecture known to mankind, CGS1060. There are several other things to be educated on besides Excel. The site also hosts intelligently created lessons like ; Facebook 101, Google, Microsoft Office, Improve your reading, Basic Math help (add/sub,divide,mulitplication, fractions,etc), Skype, Internet Safety, Interviewing Skills, Career Planning, and many many more. I personally plan to use this site to study up on the information of cgs1060, and just test out of the class for a fraction of the cost! So not only can you learn free, you can save money doing it if you plan it right! If you feel you are too busy to sit at a PC for your lessons, take them on the go with GCFLearnFree’s Mobile Apps, also free.
Of course, I had to get more information on this fantastic service! So, I managed to locate Jess on Twitter ( @learnfreejess- and – @GCFLearnFree) was able to discuss the creation of the site, and how this wonderful service is possible to the general public free of charge!
SD: How long have you been with GCF?
JESS: I am the Social Media Marketing Specialist with GCFLearnFree.org and I’ve actually only been with the company for eight months but GCFLearnFree.org has been in existence since 1992.
SD: What is “GCF” Free Learning? What does the name mean?
JESS: GCF stands for “Goodwill Community Foundation.” GCFLearnFree.org is a program of Goodwill Community Foundation, which serves Eastern North Carolina. The funds raised through the Goodwill Stores make GCFLearnFree.org possible, not only for the residents of Eastern North Carolina, but for people all around the world!
SD: How did GCF come to be and what was it’s intended use originally?
JESS: Goodwill Community Foundation’s (GCF®) mission is “to create and provide education, employment, and life enrichment opportunities for people who desire to improve the quality of their lives.” GCFLearnFree.org exists to serve the educational part of the GCF mission. From 1992 2006, we offered classes at our physical location under the name GCF Global Learning. Over time, we realized that if we really wanted to help as many people as possible, we should provide our free educational content online. We chose the name “GCFLearnFree.org” for our website name because we felt that summed us up best: Learning for Free! But we continue to work in the GCF Global Learning building, the think tank out of which our hard working staff members create and produce the quality learning content you know today as GCFLearnFree.org.
SD: When the company was first created, were things done differently?
JESS: Originally we served our educational content to over 10,000 people from 1992 2006 at the GCF Global Learning building. We discovered that other organizations were using our tutorials and lessons in developing curriculum for the people they served. To better assist these organizations and their learners, we decided to focus on creating educational content that would be more easily accessible online.
We also realized that when we offer our content online via self-paced tutorials and instructor-led classes, we can reach more people. Since offering our educational content online, we have served over TWO MILLION learners around the world.
Although we no longer offer classes at our physical location, it is our hope that our learners will find access to a computer at home, at work, at a public library, or a community center in order to continue to benefit from our free educational content.
SD: What courses are offered at GCF?
JESS: All the courses offered through GCFLearnFree.org are free. Some of our most popular tutorials are:
SD: Are there any features that are not well known you would like to inform customers about?
JESS: Most people come to the website for our Computer Basics and Microsoft Office tutorials but we have more than 90 tutorials in a wide variety of different topics. I believe we have something for everyone.
SD: How do you make such a fantastic, knowledgeable service free of charge?
JESS: Have you ever thought about what Goodwill does with the proceeds from their retail stores? When you donate your gently-used items to Goodwill, you are supporting programs that provide education, employment, and life enrichment opportunities for people in your community. GCFLearnFree.org® is one such program!
SD: Where do you get the material to create the courses and who create them?
JESS: Our curriculum design team has 5 staff members that all work together to design and create our educational content.
SD: Details on any future plans you may have for GCFFreeLearning?
JESS: We are always working on new tutorials and work a lot on updating our content too. In the last two weeks, we launched our first Apple tutorial, Publisher 2010 tutorial, and a Windows Live tutorial. Currently we’re working on courses in:
Windows Office Apps
Updated Facebook tutorial
There you have it! What an interesting story for a company that has gone from giving free lessons in a building, to delivering the same benefits to the online public. Imagine going from just 10,000 learning in a building…to then expand online and have TWO MILLION folks attending your classes. Must be very fulfilling and I hope that GCFLearnFree.org continues to expand their lessons. Thanks to Jess for an enlightening interview =]
*The website does accept donations/contributions to help keep the service and staff above average. DONATE HERE