Einstein said: ‘Once you stop learning, you start dying.’ Extreme? Perhaps a little, but the sentiment stands: forcing yourself to learn new things when your formal education is over can only bring benefits. Fortunately, there is no limit to the internet’s capacity to educate us. Here is our round-up of the finest streamed lecture services online.

V&A Academy

V&a Acadmey

It is a badly publicised fact that the Victoria and Albert Museum hosts a series of expert-led Lunchtime Lectures on all aspects of creative life and history. A carefully selected list of makers, curators and knowledgeable guest speakers illuminate topics from Lucian Freud’s etchings to Banarama’s fashion to Ghanian Flags. Each of these live events is streamed for a £6 fee. Explore more.

5 X 15

Founded in 2008, this fantastic organisation is among the leading producers of public-facing spoken-word events in the UK. In 2020, 5 X 15 went virtual. Its roster of inspiring speakers, whose lectures on Zoom are ticketed but free, Gloria Steinem, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Kahneman, Mary Beard and Malcolm Gladwell. Trust us, theirs is a mailing list you want to be on. Explore more.

How To Academy

How To Academy

Styling itself as the ‘home big thinking’, How to Academy invites the world’s most interesting artists and thinkers to share their thoughts and expertise in livestreams. Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners mingle with actors, psychologists and artists to deliver thought-provoking talks and debates. Subscribers get access to over 400 videos and free tickets to all upcoming conversations. Explore more.



This one has neither a sexy name nor a sexy site – but the idea and content are fabulous. Founded in 2013 by a former Oxford University teacher, Massolit was set up to ‘give more people access to the knowledge and insight of the world’s best academics’. The site features hundreds of lectures – which last for 8 to 12 minutes – linked to a wide range of academic subjects. For a small annual fee, you have access to all 8,623 (and counting) lectures. Perfect for anybody who wishes they’d worked harder at school or university. Explore more.


The Idler’s online courses are an excellent remedy for a woolly brain. These series of lectures, covering everything from history, wellbeing and grammar to music, philosophy and literature, provide an enlightening escape from the humdrum of daily life and work. A subscription to The Idler Academy (for £95 a year) makes a wonderful gift. Explore more.

By Becky Ladenburg
March 2024