Tag Archives: libraries

Free Knowledge

Well, yes, free knowledge IS what the Internet brings us, but here are some free online learning opportunities:

  • MIT OpenCourseWare publishes all of their course materials. For free. Special section for high school instruction and subject index available.
  • iTunes U offers If you’re an iTunes user, you’ve probably seen the mortarboard icon that links to free iTunesU content online.
  • although the search feature wasn’t immediately apparent to me–still trying to figure this out as a non-avid iTunes user.

  • WorldLectureProject indexs video of mostly professors’ lectures atworld lecture project; among the other CreativeCommons learning resources is the searchable index of
  • DiscoverEd–showing an example of curriculum and teaching resources tagged with poverty, although I found this site to not be limited to adult learning.
  • GOOD Magazine recently ran a list of sources for free class materials including ccLearn’s index, and WildApricot publishes a monthly list of non-profit webinars.

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    Darwin and Social Media

    Need a break from social media? Sometimes you just need a break from the intensity of a project, and my friend Sarah has an interesting escape–she has a book of Robert Frost or something else mind-numbingly complicated on her desk, and when she needs a break, she picks up the tome. She says it helps to concentrate on what is being said in the book and takes her away from the problem at hand.

    This is what social media feels like sometimes–it can be so complicated, but Sarah’s solution is just the opposite–not an escape, but an equally challenging situation that draws the mind away. Enter Darwin:

    Currently, I’m reading On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, in the original. Well, in the original text–but delivered via email! A few paragraphs, sent every other day (according to my preferences), sit in my inbox like another to-do, but eventually, I remember Sarah’s re-focusing technique, and I’ve been using these reading breaks to ponder how genetics are changing to predisposition the new workforce to adapt to social media.

    And there’s a great ‘at your fingertips’ tool for this, too–combining what’s great about new media with the comfort of the good ol’ fashioned book. Have you heard of DailyLit?

    DailyLit serializes books and emails snippets. They offer titles for purchase, and titles for free–including many classics. Just a simple login and password gains you access to lots of literature, and the site is full of opportunities for interaction–just like any good social media site. You can create reading lists, comment on titles, and discuss books in forums, and–somehow!–you can link your DailyLit profile to your Twitter account.

    Another similar service I like is my local library’s ’email book club’; I tried the Business Book Club, and received a daily 5-minute segment that previewed a book. At the end of the week, I’d read a chapter or two, and could request or buy the book. (And the whole story behind the ‘leader’ of the club provides an interesting insight into a whole new career choice and industry–online book club manager!)

    Interesting to ponder–the old, and the new, evolving and adapting to change.

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    Serenity Now

    I’m headed off to the Midwest–a place I think of as verdant green with bucolic farm scenery. I wonder if I’ll find any unexpected uses of technology there….

    Where have you found unexpected tech?
    As libraries reinvent themselves for the new century, that’s one place you might find it. Some libraries are even lending e-book readers, and providing downloads of books (and movies!) for your own device–all from the comfort of your own computer–be it in the arid West or the spa-like humidity of the Midwest.

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    Book Review: Wikinomics

    Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams provides a good explanation of what wikis are and how businesses are using them. The combination of innovation and creativity that they invite fosters collaborative work in the new economy. Although some of the 2007 references are already dated and the examples are largely from the corporate world, a few hours skimming the material is insightful and well worth a curious non-profit reader’s attention.

    Emphasizing once again how the ‘Net Gen’ (as the book references young colleagues), there are frequent examples of how Gen Y just thinks differently. Collaboratively, using technology seamlessly, and not constrained by convention, these tough critics are willing to be a part of the solution. Wikis and other ‘shared spaces’ provide all of us an opportunity to share ideas.

    The book provides some concise indications of what a wiki is (other than Hawaiian for quick): it allows multiple users to create and edit the same web page. It also explains through several stories why this tool and other web developments are so critical to how we will function moving forward. Wikis, we are reminded, help one user harness the energies and ideas of others, remotely, to develop a single stream of thought.

    As I learned from Dr. David Loertscher’s June presentation to Colorado librarians, (appropos, this link is to the wiki for the workshop!), the shared knowledge of a classroom of students each researching 30 sources, posting them to a wiki, and eventually producing final assignments based on the summaries of all of the sources have the potential to be greater than the sum of any one student’s research endeavors. And thus it is with wikis. I have been a wiki lurker for projects in the library community for several years–each time there is a workshop, a grant, a project, a group will initiate and collaborate on a wiki. I have a personal wiki to track my garden seed ordering and planting.

    But a practical non-profit application? The wiki is underutilized & underemphasized, to be honest. Perhaps I’ll try a wiki as a community collaborative effort to come up with a uniform intake form for human services in Colorado. Here’s a link to a previous post that explains wikis & highlights how one non-profit uses a wiki to share information on their collaborative around reducing lead.

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