A note from Author : Putting in the blog an article I had written for a IT magazine some time back.
Online Tools Students can Use
When I was preparing to write this article I was a bit confused on how to present the information in a neatly structured way. The situation was made more difficult when I knew the ultimate readers of this piece would be a widely varying audience consisting of students, teachers and parents. I had to ask for expert help and I turned to the internet as I usually do these days in times like this. I used google to search for tips on article writing and came across www.wikihow.com . Wikihow is the world’s largest ‘How-to’ manual offering solutions the problems of everyday life.
Internet is the best expert on any subject in the world today. It brings together a wealth of information from encyclopedias to expert’s comments to classroom lecture notes right into the screen in front of you. The information available on the internet is not something that’s created by a single person or a group of persons. It’s created by you and that’s what makes it the most powerful medium for spreading information as well as making sure the information is accurate. The single biggest website for information on the web is www.wikipedia.com . It has information on almost every topic under the sun and if there is not some thing there, you can immediately start a topic and add information. Almost any information on Wikipedia is editable by you and anybody else can edit the information you enter too. This can naturally raise the question about the credibility of the information. While it’s true that there can be misleading information on the site, it has been found that an overwhelming majority of the articles are accurate and informative. The collaborative model used here is the hall mark of the new internet age and more and more it’s the power of the crowd that is being used to generate useful content. Another website in the same area is Google’s knol. www.knol.google.com . It uses a slightly different model in that it requires registration for any user to start an article on it or edit it. Another source for similar information is Yahoo answers http://answers.yahoo.com/
A point of caution at this point is that since internet is such an open medium, it’s usual to find all sorts of opinion expressed. There will always be widely divergent views on the same topic and it’s important to factor in the source of the article to arrive at a judgment on the quality of the article. Typically government and academic sources tend to be more credible.
Any article on online tools invariably touches upon google and I have already used it couple of times by now. As mentioned, internet is content being generated by billions of people without any particular structure to it. So it’s becoming hugely important to find the specific information that we are looking for and that’s the role played by search engines. Google, Yahoo and Live are the leading search engines in the world and helps in making our lives easier by finding the information we search for. Google has a specific tool for search when it comes to students called google scholar which can be found at http://scholar.google.com .
Coming to course material for students, the initiative by Massachusetts Institute of Technology called open course ware is very significant. This site contains the entire materials used for teaching at MIT and its open and free to anyone in the world. It even has a section for high school students and teachers which can help with their assignments and projects. The information can be found at http://ocw.mit.edu .
Unfortunately, at the moment there are not many online resources available specifically for students in India. This I believe is one of the gaps that AIM International will be trying to fulfill as part of their vision. One of the serious players in the Indian online education field is a company called Educomp with their smart class online (http://www.smartclassonline.com ) and Math Guru (http://www.mathguru.com/), Please note that lot of the features in these two sites are available only if you pay. For students who want to use a calculator online you have http://www.calcoolate.com/ .
We see that we have already come across so many sites and it is not going to be easy remembering most of them. This is where book marking come into the picture which is nothing but saving the sites for future reference. http://del.icio.us/ is a site which helps you do exactly that. Towards the end of the article I will list some other sites also which list many tools used by the academic community.
There can never be a comprehensive article which covers all tools that are out there but then that is not the idea of this article. The tools to find what you need for your particular use is out there on the Internet and use a search engine to find what you need.
Some other online resources :