Something new to do online
January 30, 2021 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Help me find online meetups, live classes, or other live activities that are fun, that involve interacting or doing something as opposed to just watching, and that are free (or very cheap).

Ok, I'm officially a little sick of my pandemic-constrained, weather-constrained activities and I'd like to branch out. A great example of the kind of thing I'd like are the Zoom classes I took on how to construct crossword puzzles, because they were free, they were led by great instructors, and they went beyond a lecture to involve attendees (in this case, just in terms of Q&A, but there was plenty of it).

I'd like to find cook-alongs, or create-something-alongs, or accomplish-something-alongs. I'd also be up for great lectures or demos, but only if they involve a good amount of interaction rather than just passive watching. I've already got a good book club, but lots of other topics could work, including anything related to art, craft, home & garden, nature, cuisine, or really just about any how-tos or liberal arts or social sciences. Hard sciences, too, if it's for beginners. While I'm probably not looking for gaming or coding, otherwise, topic is less important than whether it's a great group in terms of leader, structure, and/or participants.

I'd love recommendations for how/where to search for great options, as well as any particular options you've found.
posted by daisyace to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Brooklyn Brainery has a wide variety of interesting courses. Fees vary, but I've taken one that was $5. While all of the courses I've taken permitted interaction, I've found that the level of participation from the group varied depending on the course.
posted by smokyjoe at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do you want something synchronous (live) or asynchronous is good too?
posted by plant or animal at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2021

I did this one-hour "Improv Sampler" from The Bad Dog Theatre Company.

I had no previous improv experience. It was super-fun, very interactive, and only $5 (Canadian)!
posted by Hellgirl at 8:11 AM on January 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'll just leave this asynchronous thing here because it's cool and someone will find it useful! The Believer has a series of comics and zine free workshops with great artists. They're all recorded videos, with a bit of a text introduction with materials you'll need.
posted by plant or animal at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've enjoyed the Atlas Obscura experiences, especially A Bat's Life! It is more on the lecture end of things, but there is some participation/interaction too (including a lengthy Q&A). Other offerings look more interactive.

Otherwise -- have you checked out your local library? A lot of libraries are offering online programming now, and it is very likely to be free :)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Language learning. I prefer Memrise to Duolingo. There's also Mango Languages, which is free through many libraries. Combine it with watching kids shows in the language.
posted by aniola at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

There is also volunteering online. That's been my favorite so far.
posted by aniola at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2021

Response by poster: aniola, any specifics on that? What kind of online volunteering have you liked, and are there better ways to find it than googling "online volunteering"?
posted by daisyace at 8:37 AM on January 30, 2021

Hmmm... I've seen cases where you volunteer to be a "reader" for someone who has impaired vision. Basically, they point the phone at a store shelf and ask you where a certain item would be, you sort of direct him/her toward it, and help read the ingredients so s/he can make the buying decisions. But didn't all that go away with online shopping nowadays?
posted by kschang at 9:01 AM on January 30, 2021

It's easy to find free online events on Eventbrite, then drill down to subject matter to find what you are interested in. For instance, here are free food and drink classes.
posted by carrienation at 11:42 AM on January 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Check with your local library (or non-local, we don't really mind where people are located!). We have been doing a lot of online workshops and classes, some of which are more interactive.
posted by wsquared at 11:56 AM on January 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Center for Book Arts in NYC regularly offers online classes and events on bookmaking, typesetting, paper cutting, and even writing for artist books. They range from one-hour discussions to six week-long classes, and many are "pay what you can" during the pandemic if budget is an issue. I'm a member there and their classes are excellent.
posted by k8lin at 1:15 PM on January 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have done a couple classes offered by Michael's craft stores. They are surprisingly pretty high quality. Both that I took were facilitated by reps of the companies whose products they sell, but they are project oriented rather than t a sales pitch.n You do need to have supplies, but as long as you have something similar, you don't need exactly what they call for.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 9:19 AM on January 31, 2021

Response by poster: Lots of helpful suggestions here -- thanks all!
posted by daisyace at 6:41 PM on February 1, 2021

If you have any interest in trying out DnD, websites like roll20 or placed like reddit have "looking for group" forums where you could find a group to join...
posted by Cozybee at 9:47 PM on February 6, 2021

Creative Mornings has had geographically open “do things” events under their Field Trips label for free. I’ve attended creative writing and comics-making events under their auspices. There was a tortilla-making event I missed, regrettably.
posted by artlung at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2021

Response by poster: Ooh -- some of those look great, artlung. Just registered to try one out - thanks!
posted by daisyace at 8:16 AM on February 10, 2021

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