[Website Reviews] Online ‘Study-buddies’

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online cour

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Education these days is no longer confined to the four walls of the classroom, but can be very well said to be confined within the hundreds of pixels of your laptop or smartphone instead. With the emergence of many online teaching platforms enabled by the ubiquitous presence of computers, high-speed internet connection, and latest technologies, the floodgates of free education have finally seemed to be open. Thanks to digital innovation, students now have many more options of seeking help with their studies outside the classroom and the library. Access to places and materials are thus becoming less of an obstacle to meet this end.

(source: Respective websites)

As developers themselves admit, one of the major inspirations for the recent emergence of online educational initiatives by many of the top-notch universities was the not-for-profit Khan Academy  (www.khanacademy.org) founded by Salman Khan, a MIT and Harvard graduate. What started as a tutoring session for Khan’s cousin over Yahoo’s doodle notepad has now become a revolutionary phenomenon in the academia which has been lionized by luminaries including Bill Gates!

The level of the courses offered by the Khan Academy ranges from elementary school to college and the topics include: K-12 math, science (biology, chemistry, physics), finance, history and test prep (GMAT, CAHSEE, SAT math, etc.), amongst others. The site keeps track of your performance and gives you feedback from time to time. Thus, teachers and coaches can access all of their students’ data and can get a summary of the class performance as a whole, or dive into a particular student’s profile to figure out exactly which topics are problematic. The students also receive incentives in the form of badges that they can earn for different learning levels. Khan Academy’s latest development is their App, which enables you to view Khan Academy’s complete library of over 2700 videos that are much appreciated for their lucidity and conciseness.

Given below is a list of similar educational sites that you can check out and make use of for your coursework:

Learnerstv.com: Provides free video and audio lectures on a wide range of subjects conducted by faculties from reputed universities around the world.

Lynda.com: Free platform to learn software, design, and business skills to achieve personal and professional goals.

Watchknowlearn.org: Indexes over 33,000+ educational videos, placing them into a directory of over 3,000 categories and available without any registration or fees to users worldwide.

Thefutureschannel.com: This site has a unique teaching style using music to evoke in the viewer a sense of wonderment in learning. Instead of using conventional narration, the professionals interviewed described the jobs they do and conveyed the importance of math and science in their daily function, while relaying the excitement and passion they have for their professions.

TeacherTube: Provides an online community for sharing instructional videos. Members can not only upload educationally relevant videos, but also to make constructive comments and use the rating system to show appreciation for videos of value to one as an educator or learner.

However, not everyone greets this migration towards the online education system with equal enthusiasm. Critics speculate that this trend could be threatening the traditional neighborhood scholastic tutor. It is also likely that students can be exposed to much more erroneous information, unless strict quality control of the content is maintained in these sites. Thus, while the developers strive to compete with one another to provide more and more materials online, they should also bear in mind the huge responsibility that is on their shoulders.