The Internet is a vast source of free educational resources like encyclopaedias, videos and turorials which cater to school students as well as professionals.

A plethora of educational tutorial video sources continue to emerge on the Net. This edition of NetSpeak takes a re-look at this vibrant segment.

Net means many things to many people — for some it is a storehouse of information, for some others it is a communication medium and for some others it is a space of entertainment.

Whatever be your take on it, the power and significance of Net lies in its potential to alter certain age-old beliefs and views. For instance, consider the economist's concept of ‘no free lunch'. The extent of free resources available on the Net challenges the edifice of this concept. Perhaps, someone may be paying at some level; but for the large majority of netizens these resources are available for free. This is much true of educational resources.

Many of these free resources are not only accessible online but are available for free download also — this means you can share and use them off-line. Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/), a wonderful educational resource, where one can find educational video tutorials on almost all topics taught at the school level (algebra, arithmetic, physics, biology, statistics and so on), is a good instance of this trend. If you wish to view the academy's tutorials off-line, you can download them through different means (http://www.khanacademy.org/downloadsThe project, ‘Khan academy on a stick' (http://mujica.org/khan/) that can be used to download videos on Maths and Science lectures is one of them. If you wish to download only selected subjects, you may explore the archive at: http://www.archive.org/details/Khan Academy.

In this regard, you may also check out the search service ‘Khan Instant' (http://www.khaninstant.com/) that enables a search of the Khanacademy database instantaneously.

This is a search service built along the lines of ‘Google Instant', Google's new search interface. As soon as you start entering the search string, the service attempts to guess your search intention and begins displaying the results accordingly.

Before moving further, let me point out yet another ‘Google Instant' inspired search service called ListandPlay (http://listandplay.com/). The service searches Youtube database in a smart way and helps you create custom playlists with videos pertaining to a specific topic or theme. Similar to other services, ListandPlay also predicts your search query the moment you start entering the search string and based on this guess it pushes the search output.

The service allows you to create a playlist of relevant videos too. So, if you wish to aggregate tutorial videos pertaining to a subject, ListandPlay could come in handy. For instance, to collect videos on the subject, say, learning English, just enter the string “how to learn English' and you will immediately find several videos related to this theme. You can view each of them and add the relevant ones to the playlist.

‘Google code university'

If you are an IT student or an IT professional keen to update skills and expertise in this arena, you should check out the site ‘Google code university' (http://code.google.com/edu/), containing tutorials pertaining to computer science topics.

Tutorials on web programming and databases could be useful even for a novice.

The service also hosts video courses on many topics relating to web programming (http://code.google.com/edu /submissions/uwspr2007_webprogramming/listing. html) and other allied subjects.

Spoken tutorial

Apart from free educational resources, many free/open-source packages and programmes that liberate/strengthen the educational infrastructure are in place- like the open-source statistical package ‘R', the text-processing/type-setting language LaTex and the like. Though many of these packages are quite useful and can boost the efficiency of the pedagogic process, the academic fraternity is yet to adapt them fully. A possible reason could be lack of appropriate tutorials on such programmes. This makes the spoken tutorial project (http://spoken-tutorial.org/) quite relevant and timely. Here you will find several spoken tutorials on various open source software in English and other Indian regional languages. Tutorials on open source packages such as LaTex and Python (a programming language) can be accessed from this service. The LaTex tutorial study plan includes lessons such as ‘LaTex installation', ‘letter writing', ‘report writing', ‘Mathematical equations' and so on.

Encyclopedia of Life

If you are a student of life-science or someone keen to know more about the life of plants, animals and micro-organism, take a look at the newly launched collaborative service Encyclopedia of Life (http://www.eol.org/). This service claims of hosting information on almost “1.9 million species currently known to science”. The academic fraternity may find the link, ‘Learning and Education Group' (http://education.eol.org/) more relevant and tailored to their needs.

Google new

Google has something new to offer everyday. Google Slam (http://www.demoslam.com/), the site in which one can find simple demo videos on various technology themes, is one of the latest offerings from Google. Now, if you wish to keep up with the latest products from Google, take a look at the service ‘Google New' (http://www.google.com/newproducts/), the site that displays news on latest Google products and services.

Icon-finder

While preparing a product write-up or a brochure or any similar task, you may need to insert icons of certain products or services. A search on Google or other search service may help you fetch the relevant icons.

However, instead of wandering all over the Web, a better and more efficient solution could be found at Iconfinder (http://www.iconfinder.com/).

The author can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com

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