Self-Educate Yourself

All education is self-education.  Period.  It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a college classroom or a coffee shop.  We don’t learn anything we don’t want to learn.

Those people who take the time and initiative to pursue knowledge on their own are the only ones who earn a real education in this world.  Take a look at any widely acclaimed scholar, entrepreneur or historical figure you can think of.  Formal education or not, you’ll find that he or she is a product of continuous self-education.

If you’re interested in learning something new, this article is for you.  Broken down by subject and/or category, here are several top-notch self-education resources I have bookmarked online over the past few years.

Note that some of the sources overlap between various subjects of education.  Therefore, each has been placed under a specific subject based on the majority focus of the source’s content.

Science and Health

  • MIT OpenCourseWare – MIT OpenCourseWare is a free web-based publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.
  • Tufts OpenCourseWare – Tufts OpenCourseWare is part of a new educational movement initiated by MIT that provides free access to course content for everyone online.  Tufts’ course offerings demonstrate the University’s strength in the life sciences in addition to its multidisciplinary approach, international perspective and underlying ethic of service to its local, national and international communities.
  • HowStuffWorks Science – More scientific lessons and explanations than you could sort through in an entire year.
  • Harvard Medical School Open Courseware – The mission of the Harvard Medical School Open Courseware Initiative is to exchange knowledge from the Harvard community of scholars to other academic institutions, prospective students, and the general public.
  • Khan Academy – Over 1200 videos lessons covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Open Yale Courses – Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet.  The courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.
  • webcast.berkeley – Every semester, UC Berkeley webcasts select courses and events for on-demand viewing via the Internet.  webcast.berkeley course lectures are provided as a study resource for both students and the public.
  • UC San Deigo Podcast Lectures – UCSD’s podcasting service was established for instructional use to benefit our students.  Podcasts are taken down at the end of every quarter (10 weeks Fall-Spring and 5 weeks in the summer).  If you’re enjoying a podcast, be sure to subscribe and download the lectures.  Once the podcast has been taken offline, faculty rarely approve their reposting.
  • Johns Hopkins OpenCourseWare – The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s OpenCourseWare project provides access to content of the School’s most popular courses. As challenges to the world’s health escalate daily, the School feels a moral imperative to provide equal and open access to information and knowledge about the obstacles to the public’s health and their potential solutions.
  • Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative – No instructors, no credits, no charge.  Use these self-guiding Carnegie Mellon materials and activities to learn at your own pace.
  • Utah State OpenCourseWare – Utah State OpenCourseWare is a collection of educational material used in our formal campus courses, and seeks to provide people around the world with an opportunity to access high quality learning opportunities.
  • AMSER – AMSER (the Applied Math and Science Education Repository) is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use.
  • Wolfram Demonstrations Project – Wolfram brings computational exploration to the widest possible audience, open-code resource that uses dynamic computation to illuminate concepts.  Free player runs all demos and videos.
  • The Science Forum – A very active scientific discussion and debate forum.
  • Free Science and Video Lectures Online! – A nice collection of video lectures and lessons on science and philosophy.
  • Science.gov – Science.gov searches over 42 databases and over 2000 selected websites from 14 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results.
  • The National Science Digital Library – NSDL is the Nation’s online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.
  • EnviroLink Network–  A  non-profit organization, grassroots online community uniting organizations and volunteers around the world.  Up-to-date environmental information and news.
  • Geology.com – Information about geology and earth science to visitors without charge: Articles, News, Maps, Satellite Images, Dictionary, etc.
  • Scitable – A free science library and personal learning tool that currently concentrates on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.  The site also expects to expand into other topics of learning and education.
  • LearningScience.org – A free open learning community for sharing newer and emerging tools to teach science.

Business and Money

  • MIT Sloan School of Management – MIT Sloan is a world-class business school long renowned for thought leadership and the ability to successfully partner theory and practice.  This is a subsection of the larger MIT OpenCourseWare site.
  • Investopedia Financial Investing Tutorials – A plethora of detailed lessons on money management and investing.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration Training Network – The Small Business Administration has one of the best selections of business courses on the web. Topics include everything from starting a business and business management to government contracting and international trade. Most courses take only 30 minutes to complete.
  • VideoLectures.NET (Business) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • My Own Business, Inc. – Offers a free online business administration course that would be beneficial to new managers and to anyone who is interested in starting a business. This comprehensive course is split up into 16 sessions covering topics like business plans, accounting, marketing, insurance, e-commerce and international trade.
  • UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (Business) – Rapidly with the addition of nearly 10 new courses every month. Many of our OCW offerings are directed at working adults seeking continuing education, with the option to enroll in instructor-led, for-credit courses, related to the OCW content.
  • Kutztown University of Pennsylvania – The Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Center offers more than 80 free business courses online. Kutztown’s courses are individualized and self-paced. Many of the courses feature high-end graphics, interactive case studies and audio streams.
  • Boston College Front Row (Business) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • Financial Management Training Center – The Financial Management Training Center provides several free downloadable business courses for people who need to learn the finer points of financial management. All courses offered can be taken online; courses include full exams as well as evaluation forms for people seeking Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.
  • The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA – Free Management Library’s Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program is an especially great resource for students wishing to learn more about nonprofit management, but most of the lessons also apply to general business management. Completion of this program will not result in an MBA degree, but enrollment is free and the material is well structured.
  • Bookboon Free Business e-books – Hundreds of free business books online in PDF format.
  • TheStreet University – If you’re just starting out as a stock and bond investor or need a refresher’s course, this is the place to learn what you need to know.

History and World Culture

  • University of Washington’s OpenUW – Explore a variety of learning in several free history-centric online courses from the University of Washington.
  • Notre Dame OpenCourseWare – Notre Dame OCW is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • Bio’s Best – Biography.com’s most popular biographies on notable historical figures.
  • UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (Social Science) – Rapidly with the addition of nearly 10 new courses every month. Many of our OCW offerings are directed at working adults seeking continuing education, with the option to enroll in instructor-led, for-credit courses, related to the OCW content.
  • Boston College Front Row (History) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare (History) – The MIT History Faculty offers about 70 subjects in the areas of Ancient, North American, European, East Asian, and Middle Eastern history.
  • Wikiversity School of Social Sciences – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • OpenLearn (Arts and Humanities) – The OpenLearn website gives free access to Open University course materials.
  • A Biography of America – A Biography of America presents history not simply as a series of irrefutable facts to be memorized, but as a living narrative of America’s story.
  • Have Fun with History – A resource for students, educators and all lovers of American History.
  • The USGenWeb Project – Free genealogy and family history resources online.
  • MacroHistory and World Report – Tell without illusions or ideological restraints the story of our ancestors, our parents and us.
  • World History HyperHistory – Navigates through 3000 years of World History with links to important persons and events of world historical importance.
  • American Digital History – Online American history textbook. An interactive, multimedia history of the United States from the Revolution to the present.

Law

  •  Duke Law Center for the Public Domain – Duke University is counted amongst the best schools in the South. If you’re interested in law, Duke’s open courseware in that subject area can go a long way towards helping you learn more about the justice system.
  • Intute Law – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorised by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Boston College Front Row (Law) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.
  • American University – Offers a selection of podcasts on a number of different law-related subjects. There is even a very interesting podcast on debt relief and the law.
  • Lewis & Clark Law School – Provides a number of podcast from the law school. Subjects include tax law, business law, environmental law and other areas of law. Interesting and insightful lectures on the law.
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law – Offers a number of interesting lectures on different law subjects. These lectures are both podcasts and Web casts. You can look ahead to the coming school year, which already has a number of interesting subjects lined up.
  • Harvard Law School – Provides a number of Web casts of law lectures, symposia, panels and conferences. A great collection of relevant information and insights on how the law interacts with current events.
  • Stanford Law – Provides open courseware via iTunes on a variety of law subjects, including the theory of justice, mobile content distribution, gay marriage, judicial review and privacy protection. The tracks are available for free, but you’ll need iTunes. Put the lectures on your iPod or iPhone and listen them anywhere.
  • MoneyInstructor Business Law – From MoneyInstructor.com provides a look at a number of basics in business law. Learn how to define crimes under business law. Worksheets and curriculums are available for teachers. Ordinary folks will find them useful as well.
  • Wesleyan College Constitutional Law – From North Carolina Wesleyan College offers an overview of the U.S. Constitution and the laws springing from it. Online lectures and class notes are included, which can help you develop a strong understanding of the Constitution and how it forms the basis of our laws.

Computer Science and Engineering

  • VideoLectures.NET (Computer Science) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • Wikiversity School of Computer Science and Technology – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • New York State University (US), Computer Science – Hundreds of lectures, tutorials and links to educational material.
  • Dream.In.Code Tutorials – Lots of computer programming tutorials.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare (Engineering and Computer Science) – MIT OpenCourseWare is a free web-based publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.
  • Maine University (US), Fogler Guide to Computer Science – An insanely detailed list of computer science resources.
  • FreeComputerBooks.com  – Free computer, mathematics, technical books and lecture notes.
  • Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies – A massive collection of bibliographies of scientific literature in computer science, updated weekly from original locations, more than 3 millions of references (mostly to journal articles, conference papers and technical reports), clustered in about 2000 bibliographies.
  • W3Schools – Web-building tutorials, from basic HTML and XHTML to advanced XML, SQL, Database, Multimedia and WAP.
  • FreeTechBooks.com – This site lists free online computer science, engineering and programming books, textbooks and lecture notes, all of which are legally and freely available over the Internet.
  • Free computer Tutorials – Free computer courses and tutorials site. All the courses are aimed at complete beginners, so you don’t need experience to get started.
  • Programmer 101: Teach Yourself How to Code – Several helpful resources for computer programming beginners.
  • Google Code University – Provides sample course content and tutorials for Computer Science (CS) students and educators on current computing technologies and paradigms.

Mathematics

  • Oxford University Mathematics OpenCourseWare – Various online mathematics classes provided free by Oxford University.
  • UMass Boston Mathematics – Various online mathematics classes provided free by UMass Boston.
  • Whatcom Online Math Center – Various math lessons provided free by Whatcom Community College.
  • VideoLectures.NET (Mathematics) – A free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.
  • Wikiversity School of Mathematics – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • AMSER Mathematics – AMSER (the Applied Math and Science Education Repository) is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use.
  • Math.com – Math.com is dedicated to providing revolutionary ways for students, parents, teachers, and everyone to learn math.
  • Intute Mathematics – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorized by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Free-Ed College Mathematics – Offers a wide range of free online math courses and study programs.

English and Communications

  • Open Yale Courses (English) – Open Yale Courses provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the internet.
  • Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students – These guidelines for engineering writing and scientific writing are designed to help students communicate their technical work.
  • MIT Writing and Humanistic Studies – The MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies gives students the opportunity to learn the techniques, forms, and traditions of several kinds of writing, from basic expository prose to more advanced forms of non-fictional prose, fiction and poetry, science writing, scientific and technical communication and digital media.
  • Merriam-Webster Online – In this digital age, your ability to communicate with written English is paramount skill.  And M-W.com is the perfect resource to improve your English now.
  • National Novel Writing Month – Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
  • Lifewriting – A complete text of the 9-week writing class a professor taught for years at UCLA.
  • Guide to Grammar and Writing – Grammar and writing techniques, lessons and quizzes.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab – Over 200 free resources including lessons on: writing, research, grammar, and style guides.

Foreign and Sign Languages

  • BBC Languages – Teach yourself a new spoken language online.
  • American Sign Language Browser – Teach yourself sign language online.
  • Livemocha – Start learning a new language online for free.
  • Learn10 – Gives you a language learning habit that’s hard to kick. 10 new words; everywhere, every day.
  • One Minute Languages – Learn a new language via podcasts that are updated regularly.
  • Mango Languages – Over 100 lessons, shown to you in PowerPoint style with interstitial quizzes, to move you through any language without cracking a book.

Multiple Subjects and Miscellaneous

  • OpenLearn – The OpenLearn website gives free access to Open University course materials.  Multiple subjects are covered.
  • Capilano University OpenCourseWare – The Capilano University OpenCourseWare site is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • University of Southern Queensland’s OpenCourseWare – Provides access to free and open educational resources for faculty members, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • YouTube EDU – Educational videos on YouTube organized by subject matter.
  • LearnHub Test Prep – Raise your test scores with free practice tests & counseling on various subjects.
  • iTunes U – Hundreds of universities — including Stanford, Yale and MIT — distribute lectures, slide shows, PDFs, films, exhibit tours and audio books through iTunes U.  The Science section alone contains content on topics including agriculture, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and geography.
  • United Nations University OpenCourseWare – Showcases the training and educational programs implemented by the University in a wide range of areas relevant to the work of the United Nations.
  • Brigham Young Independent Study – BYU Independent Study now offers free courses in different areas of study.  These areas include Family History, Family Life, and Religious Scripture Study, Personal Dev elopement, etc.  Use these courses as a starting point for your personal studies or just to add insight to an area of interest.
  • University of Utah OpenCourseWare – Provides access to free and open educational resources for faculty members, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
  • United States Nation Archives – The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper.  Valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family’s history, need to prove a veteran’s military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.
  • Wikiversity – Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning.
  • UMass Boston OpenCourseWare – Various online classes provided free by UMass Boston.
  • About U – A collection of free online educational courses from About.com.
  • Academic Earth – Online degrees and video courses from leading universities.
  • Free-Ed – Clusters of courses that support your preparation for today’s fastest-growing careers and critical academic disciplines.
  • Connexions – A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute.
  • TED – Motivational and educational lectures from noteworthy professionals around the world.
  • Intute – Provides free access to high quality resources on the Internet. Each resource has been evaluated and categorised by subject specialists based at UK universities.
  • Boston College Front Row – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.

Free Books and Reading Recommendations

  • LibraryThing – LibraryThing connects you to other people who are reading what you’re reading and allows you to see which books are popular in various categories of reading.
  • Textbook Revolution – Links to free online textbooks and other educational materials.
  • Book TV – This is the companion site to Book TV on C-Span2. The site holds some current interviews with authors, many past interviews, opinions, reviews, and featured programs through online video.
  • Bookboon – Bookboon provides online textbooks for students in PDF format. The free ebooks can be downloaded without registration. Our books are legal and written exclusively for Bookboon. They are financed by a few in-book ads.
  • Scribd – Scribd, the online document sharing site which supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other popular formats. You can download a document or embed it in your blog or web page.
  • BookYards – BookYards is a web portal in which books, education materials, information, and content will be freely to anyone who has an internet connection.
  • Planet eBook – Free classic literature to download and share.
  • E-Books Directory – Thousands of ebooks on various subjects to download and share.
  • Read Print Library – Free online books library for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast.GoodReads – Get great book recommendations and keep track of what you want to read.
  • The Online Books Page – University of Pennsylvania database with over 30,000 books.
  • Public Literature – Thousands of familiar classics, children’s books, plays and poems, as well as books by new authors.
  • Full Books – Thousands of full-text nonfiction and fiction books.
  • Many Books – Free fiction and nonfiction ebooks for your PDA, iPod or ebook reader.
  • Get Free Books – Thousands of free ebooks to download.
  • Project Gutenberg – More than 20,000 free books from the first producer of free e-books.
  • Bibliomania – Thousands of classic books, poems, short stories and plays.
  • Classic Reader – Large collection of free classic books, plays, and short stories from more than 300 authors.
  • Bartleby Fiction – Classic anthologies and volumes.
  • The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List – MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on advanced business knowledge: you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work.  The Personal MBA features the very best business books available, based on thousands of hours of research.
  • Books Should Be Free – Free audio books from the public domain.

Educational Mainstream Broadcast Media

  • BBC Learning – Online learning, support, and advice. This site offers internal and offsite links to a vast amount of materials.
  • Biography – The site holds videos to past interviews and biographies on people in topics that range from Black history to women’s history.
  • Book TV – This is the companion site to Book TV on C-Span2. The site holds some current interviews with authors, many past interviews, opinions, reviews, and featured programs through online video.
  • CBC Archives — Relive Canadian history through thousands of available radio and television clips.
  • Discovery — This channel is home to several different networks that focus on the military, animals, travel, etc. The Discovery site offers a “Video of the Day” from its home page, a separate online video section, and a Discover Education center where teachers can accumulate materials for K-12 teaching. It’s impossible to list all their offerings here, so go discover!
  • History Channel – Visit the Video Gallery for a selection on historical topics. Like the Discovery Channel, this network provides many opportunities for you to gain access to information and reference materials.
  • NOVA — Watch current science shows or browse by category. PBS sponsors this channel.
  • Research Channel — Speakers, researchers and professors present revolutionary thoughts and discoveries. Use their Webstreams and an extensive video-on-demand library for research.
  • Weather Channel – You can learn about weather all over the world, but the Weather Channel also offers dynamic content based upon seasons and special conditions and a special multimedia and education section.

Online Archives

  • American Memory – The Library of Congress provides extensive multimedia offerings on various topics through their American Memory Collection, including their outstanding Built in America project that showcases historical buildings through photographs.
  • Fathom – This archive, provided by Columbia University, offers access to the complete range of free content developed for Fathom by its member institutions. The archives include online learning resources including lectures, articles, interviews, exhibits and seminars.
  • Internet Archive Open Educational Resources – A digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.
  • National Archives – Provides primary source materials from NARA along with lesson plans for teaching with those sources.
  • National Climatic Data Center – The NCDC, a division of NOAA, maintains climatic archives, including lists of storms in given counties, and records about global extremes, etc.
  • The Rosetta Project – A global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers building a publicly accessible online archive of all documented human languages.
  • September 11 Digital Archive – This site uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of the 9/11 attacks.
  • U.S. Census Bureau – If you think the Census Bureau is all about numbers, you might be surprised to learn about their archived photographs, daily radio features, and more available through theirNewsroom.

Directories of Open Education

  • Google Scholar – Provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.
  • OpenCourseWare Consortium – This site provides a portal to search through hundreds of free courses or to add new courses you know about to the database.
  • iBerry – Check out this site for a huge directory of open courseware organized by school and subject matter that can point you in the right direction for any type of learning.
  • Self Made Scholar Directory – Free online directory of web-based classes and courses.

Please add to the resource list via the comments section if you know of a valuable site we left off the list.

Culled from the Website: http://www.marcandangel.com/2010/11/15/12-dozen-places-to-self-educate-yourself-online/

Photo by: Steve Keys

 

 

 

 

This is another viewpoint from Mark Honer.

We recently did a little travelling around South Africa (Durban/Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg) running events where we raise awareness of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, the shared resources that are available, the tools that can be used and the communities that develop and support them. We are often asked why people should share. My intention was to spend a lot of time composing the perfect blog post about why sharing is a brilliant idea for everyone and why everyone benefits.

Circumstances haven’t played along so I’m putting some thoughts down and, in the spirit of openness, I hope there will be some discussion and even better arguments forthcoming from the broader community.

In this blog I would like to answer the question: why should the very best schools share their resources?

First, My Conclusion

For a school to continue to compete to be the best it is essential that they participate openly in the global education movement. In fact, the top private/public schools can benefit more from the open educational resources movement than the under-resourced schools because they have strong educators with excellent content and pedagogical knowledge who have the resources and technology around which to innovate.

How do I get to this conclusion?

A Little Context

I happen to have a background in science so I’m going to have a significant bias towards mathematics and science examples. I promise to spend some time looking for the Arts equivalents but they’re out there I just haven’t filtered them effectively yet.

Now to the schools, normally, in South Africa, our team is faced with schools struggling for resources. For them the benefits of the OER movement, primarily openly shared resources, are quite straightforward:

  • increased content availability (Connexions,MindsetCK12Curriki etc.);
  • a multitude of formats print, online, PDF, ePub, and mobile are all available for the same book;
  • content can be adapted, contextualised and enhanced (yes because these aren’t the typical audience for which resources are created);
  • massive cost savings (~ 1/5 price of publisher’s alternatives) ; and
  • a massive reduction in workload for educators.

In our recent travels we’ve also encountered some schools that are the best resourced in South Africa (probably Africa) and would do pretty well by any global metric. Hence, the need to answer the question addressed in this blog. These schools aren’t particularly swayed by:

  • the fact that they’ll have a textbook as they already have many;
  • the increased content as they can buy rich-media supplements, assessment banks etc.;
  • the variety of formats as they can deliver whichever format suits them without accessibility concerns;
  • the adaptability of someone else’s content as they typically use their own notes anyway as their departments are strong in content knowledge and pedagogy;
  • the cost saving as, let’s face it, they can afford the most expensive premium content; and
  • the massive reduction in workload as they are well managed and their departments already collaborate quite well.

So why should these perfectly functioning institutions participate in the OER movement (I’m being serious not sarcastic). Let me be very clear that this isn’t about one school we encountered, there are a few and they’re in very much the same boat.

Consider the School’s Mission

Firstly, any reason I give should be aligned with the schools’ mission statement. For reference here are a number of schools linked to their mission statement. There are two sets of schools listed: those government schools chosen by the Sunday Times in a recent study to be the best in the country and those ranked in a Serve Africa 2011 ranking. I don’t give any particular weight to these metrics, I just needed some way of showing a list of schools where I could blame the bias on someone else!

Rank Sunday Times Top 10 Public Schools 2009 Serve Africa 2011 Rankings
1 Westerford High School Grey College
2 Westville Girls High Afrikaans High School for Boys
3 Afrikaans Hoer Meisieskool Bishops Diocesan College
4 Westville Boys High Hilton College
5 Rustenburg Girls High Paarl Gimnasium
6 SACHS Paul Roos Gimnasium
7 Raucall Secondary (couldn’t find a link to an online mission statement) Selborne College
8 Mbilwi Secondary Wynberg Boys High
9 Rondebosch Boys High Pretoria Boys High
10 Durban Girls High Stellenberg High School

I won’t analyse these in detail but I challenge you to randomly pick a few and read them. None of these mission statements states a primary objective of getting their learners to pass a matric exam with 50% (or even the minimum which is, sadly, lower). These mission statements talk about providing the best education, supporting the development of responsible, well-rounded, individuals who can participate meaningfully and effectively in society and striving to ensure they fulfil their potential.

The World is Changing (Fast!)

The world is a rapidly changing place, for any school to be providing the best possible education the educators must be up to date. The rate of change has been accelerating because of the internet and rapid advances in technology. This is the world for which learners need to be prepared.

There are some concrete examples that show that society will be different in future just look at the recent events(12) in the Arab world, look at how transparency and open governance are taking hold, how the movement for open data is getting stronger, how governments aren’t able to keep secrets in the same way, how municipalities are being more effective by opening up their data (12) and allowing the public to provide innovative solutions and uses of the data.

My only point here is that the world that educators need to be preparing learners for is changing so rapidly that it absolutely dictates education evolve so you can’t possibly rely on what you did 5 years ago, the world has changed too much.

Openness in Science

Thanks to Francois Grey for a nice sketch of this content.
The increase in connections amongst people provided by the internet has led to many opportunities, most importantly an increase in participatory culture and openness with incredible results.

Grid computing, as it is now called, can best be explained by a famous project, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI@home). Volunteers download a simple computer program which analyses bits of radio data collected by a giant radio-telescope and sends back a short summary of the result to a central server in California. The biggest surprise of this project was not that they discovered a message from outer space. In fact, after over a decade of searching, no sign of extraterrestrial life has been found, although there are still vast regions of space that have not been looked at. The biggest surprise was the number of people willing to help such an endeavour. Over a million people have downloaded the software, making the total computing power of SETI@home rival that of even the biggest supercomputers in the world.

A software platform was built so that this model could be used to solve many other problems. You can read more about this platform, called BOINC, and the many different kinds of volunteer computing projects it supports today, at http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ . There’s something for everyone, from searching for new prime numbers (PrimeGrid) to simulating the future of the Earth’s climate (ClimatePrediction.net). One of the projects, MalariaControl.net, involved researchers from University of Cape Town as well as from universities in Mali and Senegal.

But in recent years, a new trend has emerged in citizen cyberscience that is best described as volunteer thinking. Here the computers are replaced by brains, connected via the Web through an interface called eyes. Because for some complex problems – especially those that involve recognizing complex patterns or three-dimensional objects – the human brain is still a lot quicker and more accurate than a computer.
Volunteer thinking projects come in many shapes and sizes. For example, you can help to classify millions of images of distant galaxies (GalaxyZoo), or digitize hand-written information associated with museum archive data of various plant species (Herbaria@home). This is laborious work, which if left to experts would take years or decades to complete. But thanks to the Web, it’s possible to distribute images so that hundreds of thousands of people can contribute to the search.

Not only is there strength in numbers, there is accuracy, too. Because by using a technique called validation it is possible to practically eliminate the effects of human error. This is true even though each volunteer may make quite a few mistakes. So projects like Planet Hunters have already helped astronomers pinpoint new planets circling distant stars. The game FoldIt invites people to compete in folding protein molecules via a simple mouse-driven interface. By finding the most likely way a protein will fold, volunteers can help understand illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease that depend on how proteins fold.

Volunteer thinking is exciting. But perhaps even more ambitious is the emerging idea of volunteer sensing: using your laptop or even your mobile phone to collect data – sounds, images, text you type in – from any point on the planet, helping scientists to create global networks of sensors that can pick up the first signs of an outbreak of a new disease (EpiCollect), or the initial tremors associated with an earthquake (QuakeCatcher.net), or the noise levels around a new airport (NoiseTube).

Open science is really taking off, just watch the video in this article to really open your eyes.

My point here is that if you happen to be a science educator and you don’t know about these opportunities then are you not only not up to date but you are missing incredible opportunities to expose your learners to real science and you are missing the opportunity to let them actually PARTICIPATE in real science – I can’t stress this enough, as an educator you must be using these tools to give your learners a real world perspective of how science is changing if your goal is the best possible education.

Open Educational Resources

There is an ever increasing community of educators sharing content openly, not just freely, but under copyright licences (written by Creative CommonsFree Software Foundation etc.) that let you use it, change it, distribute it and remix it.

In South Africa, Mindset has created a lot of content and I don’t think most people appreciate that it is under an open copyright licence. Add to all their content the fact that our little team at Siyavula has managed to write and edit 6 textbooks (9-12 Mathematics and Physical Science), rally volunteers around translating them plus we’ve made workbooks for all learning areas in R-9 (K-9) available in English and Afrikaans. I think there may be a greater percentage of the curriculum covered by open content in South Africa than anywhere else in the world.

Globally we’re seeing huge repositories of content become available like WikipediaYouTube and Slideshare which are more general tools but also more school specific ones like the Khan Academy videos, TeacherTubeVeritasium Science Videos, the PhET Simulations, CK12 Flexbooks, Curriki and of course Connexions.

So far all I’ve done is make a case for getting connected to the internet and consuming what is available!

Finally, Benefits of Sharing

The quality of this content is increasing all the time as well, especially in the cases where communities are forming. Consider the huge amount of content for Mathematics teaching Dan Meyer (algebra and geometry) has made available. The best part is that Dan releases many of his lessons on his blog where people discuss, debate and even improve them. I find the comments on Dan’s blog one of the most interesting mathematics teaching resources around (for educators at least). Consider this lesson idea posted by Dan and look at comments like thisthis or even this. Thats just a random sampling. No, I’m not on a retainer from Dan, the reason I like to point at his stuff is because he made a nice 88s video explaining what it is all about for him – take a look here.

Is there only one Dan? Well yes, but there is more than one educator participating in a vibrant virtual community, sharing their content and benefiting from peer-review and an ever expanding community of practice. Not convinced, try following the any of the Blogroll links on Dan’s blog, if you’re a science educator start with Rhett Allain for some physics ideas and discussion. Each of those blogs will link to more blogs, browse around till you find the people you think are worth following.

Why is this happening? The answer is simple, peer-review in a real community works incredibly well!

But, to really benefit from a community of practice, to really harness that community to innovate around the challenges and context in which you work, you have to put your best material out there for them to see, to review and to improve and innovate around. You can’t passively watch their discussions and benefit from the full power of a community of practice. The best thing to do is to play a leading role in the community by participating and sharing on a large scale. Then the content you’re producing and the challenges you’re facing will benefit from the innovative power of the community.

You really need to be participating in a community of practice that is large and diverse enough to keep up with the rapid developments in all spheres of life so that you can provide the relevant education to your learners.

Keeping Ahead – Teaching vs. Content

Will you lose your edge? Absolutely not! In fact, this is the only way to keep your edge. Schools not participating in this process will be overtaken, firstly by the quality content that is becoming available and secondly by the rapidly changing environment for which they need to prepare learners.

The strong communities of educators have a much better chance of making sense of all the opportunities and changing technology and are too effective, too open and too innovative for the isolated schools to keep pace. Even if the schools buy the latest products from commercial publishers they’ll fall behind because of the slower pace at which publishers develop resources and the length of time they have to spend selling the content to cover their costs. Large, effective, open communities will beat them hands down.

Furthermore, I think the education you receive at one of those top schools is not defined by the content on the desk and neither is the teacher who puts it there. Those teachers identify and empathize with their students, guide them to make sense of the vast world of content, not just by acting as filters but by harnessing critical thinking and discourse. Those teachers need to fine tune, adapt and contextualise the learning experience for the needs of their specific learners. That is what will make them great educators and no matter how much content and how many ideas their community comes up with, the person who needs to take it the “last mile” is still the in-classroom educator.

A Couple of Additional Benefits

Firstly, there are, in our context, many schools where better content would still make a remarkable difference. By sharing quality resources openly, learners at those schools have opportunities to access better resources. They will never have the experience of going to a top school but everyone in the world benefits when more people have a better schooling. Doing anything to raise the bar for everyone is a worthwhile exercise.

Secondly, sharing quality resources actually increases the profile of a school. It certainly didn’t undermine MIT‘s reputation when they put up hundreds of their lectures for free online in their OpenCourseWare project.

Conclusion (Again!)

If you want to be the best you need to be up to date on all fronts and I believe that it is impossible to remain at the forefront of education if you remain in a silo, you just won’t be able to keep up.

Maybe we should be doing things radically differently anyway, if you’re bored or not at all convinced then try watching Sir Ken Robinson’s two TED talks, Do Schools Kill Creativity and Bring on the Learning Revolution.

read original post on Mark Horner’s Site

As a new democratic dispensation begins in Nigeria today, I feel burdened in my heart because I will be doing a lot of things in these four years. I feel burdened in my heart because am tempted to think that will this be another period of slavery? Will this be another period on ‘chop-make-I-chop’? Will this be a period of democratic justice, good governance and excellence? Will this be a period where the government will take the most important thing that will drive any economy serious?

I am concerned because its more than 12 years now and government has ignored our core value system; I am concerned because one way or the other, it might affect my kids in this next four years. I am concerned because I imagine how the future of young people and mostly children might change radically accepting the norms that they meet in Nigeria as the right thing. Who will be the one to tell them the real story of where Nigeria Missed it or howbeit, where Nigeria ought to be if not for Neglect of her value system.

May I say at this point that our value system is just encircled around one thing: EDUCATION. If EDUCATION is fixed in Nigeria every other thing is fixed.

Education is the bedrock of any form of development be it social or economic. If EDUCATION is fixed, we will have a way to fix our power system, if education is fixed, we won’t bother about corruption because we will know that we don’t need to be corrupt to be rich, if education is fixed, we would not do importation because our educated, will provide what is lacking, if EDUCATION is fixed, there will be no need for 2nd term in Government because we will all know what to do: if EDUCATION is fixed, our kids will not depend on ‘orijo’ to pass exams because they will believe in themselves, if EDUCATION is fixed, our ladies will not expose their outward pulchritude because they will know that it is insane to do so, if EDUCATION is fixed, our sons will not ‘sag’ because they will understand that they are Leaders and Leaders don’t sag (imagine President Obama sagging to deliver his speeches), if our EDUCATION system is proper, there will never be armed robbers because people will see no reason to rob because they will know they have what they want already, if EDUCATION is fixed, there will be no need for ballot snatching because snatchers will see no reason to do so, if EDUCATION is fixed, there will be no killings by the Northerners because they will see no reason to do so, if EDUCATION is FIXED, then we have killed Poverty, if EDUCATION is fixed, then our future investments will not be taken to banks in Switzerland, UK, USA all in the name of laundering, if EDUCATION is fixed, young people will see no reason to study abroad, if EDUCATION is fixed, Nigeria’s Currency will supersede that of the Queen’s colony.

Now it is a New government and one thing I demand from this new regime is EDUCATION. Let the Government work on the educational value system, let this creed be taught in every home, crèche, schools, institution, street, crannies, nooks, churches, mosques, socials, let us all sing aloud a New song with just one voice and sound saying EDUCATE one, EDUCATE ALL.

Mr President, Mr Governor, Mr House of Rep, Mr Senator, Mr House of Assembly, Mr Senate President to be, Mr Speaker (house of rep and state house of assembly) to be, Mr Minister to be, Mr Commissioner to be, Mr Local Government Chairman to be, Mr LCDA, Mr Councillor, I plead with you to please let EDUCATION kill all of this bad signs in Nigeria by you making it topmost in your agenda.

To all parents, Train up your child in a way that he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.

Now, I can go back to start planning on how the next 4 years of My life will be in consonance with the New Administration. I wish us all a safe landing.

OGUNYEMI BANKOLE TAIWO.

Having gone through the previous blogs on this platform, I was particularly elated with the series II and its focus on the youths in northern Nigeria. This then brought a question to mind, what was the aspect of education that these youths lacked? Was it secondary or university education that these people needed? Was it moral education they needed? Of course, if we check out the profile of Abdul-Mutallab, we would realise that even a professor could turn out to be a potential terrorist someday.

So, the question arises, what should they (the northern dudes) have known? What do we need to learn? And who should educate us?

The answer to the first question boils down to our communities, our societies; what are our values? And what do we consider to be right or wrong?

Established schools, churches/mosques, NGO’s and others, can only try to teach us what our ideal value system should be, but the best school for teaching a child what his values should be, mostly when human lives are involved, is the home front. Remember, they say, that charity begins at home. The bible says “train up a child in the way he should grow and when he is old he will not depart from it”. I would like to believe that the other northerners who stood up against these killings had great upbringing and value systems.

Yes, northern distraction aside, as individuals striving to attain perfection in our given fields, our education is in our own hands. You choose what to learn, how to learn and where to learn. You can be forced to read but you can’t be forced to assimilate. You can be forced to school, but you can’t be forced to pass.

For those who feel they were forced to study the wrong courses, it’s very necessary for you to tell yourself , that your education, personal development and your fate lies in no one else’s hands but yours. Choose today what you need to learn, what you should learn and how you need to learn it. To do this, you must have a goal, because it’s actually your goals that determine what you choose to learn. It’s advisable that you learn one thing at a time, to avoid being a Jack of many and master of none. Cheers!

Meet our Guest Blogger for the Week.

Irene Oghomwen Idiaghe studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering at the University Of Benin, where she majored in Information and Communications Technology and Telecommunications. She belongs to the National Society of Black Engineers and the Institute Of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Projects she has undertaken include Home Automation via DTMF, an online social network, “tertconnecttt” and a host of others. She is an Internet resource specialist and a seasoned Events Manager, whom has the planning of several successful events to her credit. She is currently working with a team of several persons to develop a Mobile application for mobile phone users.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet IRENE.

EDUCATION KILLS… Series II

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

ALDOUS HUXLEY once said: Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting. Education is like a light through a tunnel, it goes straight in to the crucibles of a man’s heart and turns on that part of him that has been long dead like a magical wand into something magnanimous. It kills mediocrity and laxity including procrastination which is a very dangerous enemy towards success. Modern civilization has helped most African countries emerge from the darkness of archaic way of life into a bold manifest of discoveries.

Some part of Africa still suffers from improvishment and lack of education. In the far northern part of Nigeria and also, part of East Africa, young people still have a divide in terms of education whereby they are disconnected with events happening down south and this is a very great challenge towards development. Recently, Nigeria had one of the most historical events which was the election process for her President and just because the Winner of the election who probably had the best agenda, the best political campaign and also allowed the freest and fairest election so far, was from the South South, the Uneducated Youths from the Northern region instead of using the power of education to re-model their strategies and also check-and-balance their possible mistakes, they went blindly into the street to start killing innocent citizens mostly corpers who had participated as presiding officers for the elections. If only this young people were educated, their ignorance would have been killed. One question that keeps coming to my mind is who will remove the scales from the eyes of the Uneducated?

This is a call to NGO’s, CBO’s, CSO’s NFP’s etc to find a means of leaving already educated regions and move into local communities where their impact can be felt more readily. Move out of your space and educate someone today on something New.

The Good books says, one will chase (change) a thousand and two will chase (change) Ten Thousand.

Get Educated to Educate today!

Education Kills! Series 1.

Posted: April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wow thats a good title to this amazing topic. Am sorry its been a long time I blogged on this platform. Maybe the auction just came(actually I guess its Laziness but really I feel much passion in writing this).
I had this education art work hung on my the wall of our ‘parlour’ (you know how we say it in those days) and really I crammed it all through. The first few words read: education kills the disease of…

Still suspense filled?

Lol, Ok let me take us through the full words and please see how powerful it is.

Education Kills the Disease of ignorance Superstition fear and poverty.

Don’t give up studies. Aspire to the Zenith.

Bag the certificates FIRST then the enviable jobs later.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I will study and wait and the opportunity will come”.

Francis Bacon summarized the need for education in these words, “Knowledge is Power”.

So please, no kidding with studies. Come off the bias today!

Wow,
what an amazing brief. I love it and reading it again now, I feel like its what I need to fix.

Nigeria has to fix her educational need and people call it the brain drain but I still chose to call it the most requirement for Nigeria’s Development.

Education is not really the class thing but majorly how people give themselves to self-development. Self development has been the key to great economies globally. How class-full will you explain Chinese youths who are so skilled in building up themselves. They keep amazing me on how they change their economy all with their Skills and Potentials.

Nigeria on the other hand has potentials but I look beyond to see how most of us can translate our potentials to Kinetics. Suffice to say that some young people have definitely been able to leave pass potentials adding it up with kinetics to give the desirable work-done.

This brings me to potentials and Kinetics. We all are aware about potentials and definitely know how to discover (though may not be able to identify it fully, but it comes in bits.. ‘poco a poco’) but I want to major on Kinetics.

In Physics, Potential energy + Kinetic energy = Workdone.

We have potentials, how do we identify the Kinetics to produce the Work-done.

Kinetics implies movement, push, motion. What gives a potential a Motion or movement. In China, kinetics is presently availability of Power and good government policy that can keep a vision sustainable and real. However, demographically in Nigeria, Kinetics is Connection/ network/ opportunity. ‘selah’

Watch out for series II.

Dedicated to the Young people who are ready to participate in the Warri TENT Program by PINigeria.
The New Path.