Learning to Play Poker...
Yes, I've learned that TV isn't the greatest teacher, yet that's how I got started just before the explosion in 2003. Played with family in quick $5 freeze-outs. So if you can get family/friends to play whenever you get together, it's another way to learn (our tourneys are essentially bingo games, but it's fun).
Then I learned to play online at PokerRoom and shifted to play UB. Started with play money/freerolls just to get a sense of the whole online concept. I have to agree with those who believe that play-money / freerolls are not a good way to learn. It can get you only so far, but I fear players would pick up bad habits from it since you don't have anything vested in it. It could easily degenerate into a bingo or call-anything style of play.
Once you start to play real money, then you see that players will start to get serious about their reckless play. Now, I only put "start" to get serious, because at the low limits, you can still find a lot of call-anything style of players who will out-draw you on a ridonkulous play. Yet, there's still a wealth more of knowledge that's usable for your own game when playing for real money.
One tip that I suggest for those who may not have a lot of money to spend (I'm included being a student with tuition fees and books to be paid soon...) is to take advantage of some online promos. I know 2+2 has some sort of promo to pick up some books that they publish - so double bonus there. All sites have/should have first deposit bonuses (I can only vouch for PokerRoom and UB where I play, but others have to have these) so that you can pick up an extra 100% or more of your deposit by playing. This should get the ball rolling for you.
Hope this helps....thanks for the tip on taking notes on players, btw. I should really start doing that when I go to play online!
Good luck on the tables