Smart Living | Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting | 20 Dec 2022

New year, new you! The best upskilling resources for you and your family

From Masterclass for adults to Outschool for kids, use our guide to the best online learning opportunities - and last-minute Christmas gifts - to make sure you are entering 2023 with optimism and purpose.

Everyone can benefit from expanding their skill-sets. According to the World Economic Forum, doing so could boost global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by nearly £5 trillion.

The workplace is changing at a dizzying pace. Around 70% of people don’t feel prepared for its future, according to a study of 3,000 people conducted by Amazon and Workplace Intelligence.

So upskilling sounds like an ideal New Year’s resolution. Essential even. Just one thing: what exactly is it?

“Upskilling might sound intimidating, but actually it’s not,” says career coach Amy Cohen. “All it means, really, is taking an action which enriches both your personal and professional life.

“Upskilling should be seen as an opportunity to learn, discover and open your mind to new experiences, people and knowledge.”

Learn Something New Calendar Graphic

Credits: Shutterstock Enterprise

It’s also never too early – or too late – to start honing these skills. And luckily, whichever you pick and whatever your age, there’s an app for that (see links at the bottom of the page).


Learn from the masters

“Cook like a chef, write a novel, sell a TV pilot or learn how to run a company, with online classes taught by the best to ever do it.” That’s the blurb for Masterclass, a website where you can learn about filmmaking from Martin Scorsese or conservation from Jane Goodall.

 At packages from £14 a month, it offers 180 courses, taught by world-leading experts in each field, and filmed to Hollywood production standards. It’s a tempting treasure trove of tuition.

Speak another language

Want to get a job abroad, or just sound smoother on this year’s summer holiday?

Duolingo is now one of the world’s biggest language apps – 14.9 million people now log on every day to learn one of the 41 languages on its books.

It’s free, but you can pay to remove adverts and have unlimited use of the mobile app. That’s uso ilimitado, as they say in Spanish.

Code for the future

Coding is among the most coveted skills in the current jobs market. Mimo is designed to help you become a developer, building apps or websites in the snatched minutes between meetings.

How Alfie the avatar helped one woman design a brighter future

The Barnardo’s Discover Digital programme, supported by Vodafone, helps young people learn new skills to help them find work. This is Charlene’s inspiring story.

Its app contains mini lessons in Swift, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, SQL… Confused? Then you might need it.

The free download on the App Store includes two complete courses. After that, it’s $49.99 (£41) for a year’s access to all the app’s courses.


From science to media literacy

TED-Ed – the youth branch of the cult online talk series – is a hub of original animated and pacy lessons, delivered by experts in their field.

“The more you learn, the more you realise there is always more to learn,” explains its Executive Director, Logan Smalley. “That’s why the information, narrative and visuals of TED-Ed animations are carefully designed not only to help learners gain a greater understanding of a topic of the video, but also to provoke their curiosity to levels that inspire them to want to learn more about the topic.”

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Their library of more than 1,500 free-of-charge videos spans all of the subjects typically taught in schools, but also covers topics that are not: character development, the science of adolescent brains, or the histories of various under-represented cultures throughout the world.

“In an uncertain, rapidly-evolving and increasingly interconnected future, curiosity and media literacy are critical skills for all students to have,” says Mr Smalley. “A student who is perpetually curious is more prepared to ask unconventional questions and come up with creative solutions to society’s most intractable problems.”

Driving Theory Test 4-in-1 Kit

It’s the skill every teen wants: to be able to drive themselves away.

Not only does this app contain all the latest DVSA Theory Test questions, answers and explanations, it even comes with a guarantee: pass first time, or get your test fee back. And it costs just £4.99.

Pleasant plucking

Party tricks are key to the teenage skill set. Fender Play’s courses help you master (and impress others with) tunes from Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish and hundreds of other artists.

Just pick your instrument (guitar, bass or ukulele), the genre you want to focus on, and then play along with bite-sized video tutorials. The production is just as slick as you’d expect from the world’s most iconic guitar company.

You’ll be rocking out (or romancing) within days. A free 14-day trial is followed by monthly subscriptions at £9.99 and annual ones at £89.99.



“Outschool aims to spark innate curiosity and love of learning through a wide variety of classes that aren’t found in a traditional school setting,” says Amir Nathoo, its co-founder and CEO. “Children who are allowed interest-based learning opportunities develop a love of learning that can’t be extinguished.”

Its website offers more than 140,000 live, online classes for kids aged 3-to-18. More than a million children from 173 countries have now taken a class in subjects ranging from the mainstream (maths) to the more challenging (Mandarin), through to the curious (Minecraft survival club).

The best education apps for your kids

Make screen time meaningful with these tried-and-tested educational apps for children.

Hoping to ready your child for the workplace of the future? Charging per class, the site teaches hard skills like coding, and soft ones like social and emotional skills.

“We don’t expect Outschool or other digital learning options to replace traditional in-person schooling, but rather to supplement with unique offerings in order to inspire learning outside of the classroom,” says Mr Nathoo.


Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

Machines can’t yet emote, let alone smooth over heated debates in meetings. So soft skills like empathy, adaptability, grit and resilience look set to be crucial attributes in our future world. Deloitte forecasts that “soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.”

Digital Parenting guide to fun and inspiring online courses for kids

Doing curriculum-based school lessons online is one thing, but how do you keep your kids happily learning and having fun the rest of the time during lockdown?

You’re never too little to start developing these skills, and this app – from the brains behind Sesame Street – teaches a sweet and simple strategy for mindful problem-solving. Help your monster friend to take some deep breaths, come up with a plan, then give it a shot.

There’s lots of emotional vocabulary to absorb along the way, as well as practical breathing techniques they can try themselves. In fact, lots of grown-ups could probably benefit from giving it a whirl. Free from the App Store and Google Play.

Links to websites


Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

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