The sites listed here are distinguished for their consistently high quality, ease of use, clean design, and breadth of coverage. There is so much of value that these sites deserve to be set off by themselves for special attention. Becoming familiar with them by browsing at length will be time well spent for both students and teachers.
ipl2: Information You Can Trust
IPL2 is the result of a merger of the Internet Public Library and the Librarian’s Index to the Internet. It gets our vote for the single best reference site on the Internet. Its general collections, newspapers and magazines, special collections, sections specifically devoted to kids and teens, as well as its "ask a librarian" feature are all outstanding. All sources have been selected and reviewed by a team of librarians and are presented with helpful annotations. While the site is slightly less accessible than were its two earlier incarnations, it is still very user friendly.
There is an increasingly large number of traditional universities that offer an extensive array of free classes online. While engineering, the biological and physical sciences, and computer science are overrepresented, there is no shortage of offerings in the humanities, social sciences, the arts, and education. Some of the best include
The Learning Network
With hundreds of links to a wealth of well-organized materials on a wide variety of topics, this site provides an outstanding starting place to identify the type of site you might be interested in. Although the sites are high-quality, they lack the annotation given by some of the other mega sites listed here. The Navigator, however, is very accessible.
Online College Classes and Academic Courses for Lifelong Learners
This is an excellent and accessible “free compendium of educational multimedia content from around the web.” Its annotations are concise and clear. Primary divisions include:
Online College Classes
"A number of world class universities and institutions of learning make premium course content readily available for those who are interested. Harvard, Yale, MIT, and UC Berkeley are among the leading providers of lecture series and online courses. Along with many others, these institutions provide an Ivy League education for free."
" . . . many academic institutions have set up their own projects to make learning available to all, with MIT’s OpenCourseWare at the vanguard. Here are some of the best free courses available on the web from a variety of schools around the world."
Online Textbooks and eBooks
"With the rising prices in textbooks, especially those purchased through campus bookstores, it can be no surprise that more and more students and professors are turning to online resources. Digital textbooks exist in a variety of forms, including open-source documents, interactive eBooks, and as digital versions of regular texts." This section of the site contains "a list of these online sources, organized by subject, to help you find the information necessary for your class, and the best part is that all of these books are freely available online. You won’t have to pay a cent."
Videos from Online College Courses
"The improvements in internet speed and hosting services like YouTube have inspired a proliferation of video on the web. Many colleges now post recorded lectures for their students, and some even open this service up to the public. Broadcast corporations, museums, nonprofits and individuals are also getting involved, offering up clips and previews to assist learning. Everything from how to videos to debates on the meaning of life are discussed in these presentations. Get to know the best places for educational videos with these resources."
Online Class Podcasts
"For some people, text-based resources aren’t the best way to learn. Sometimes, being able to see or hear the material makes it easier to remember and understand. This goes for academic material as well as the things you like to learn in your free time. For this reason, many website have dedicated themselves to providing books on tape and podcasts that people can download and listen to, for free, to help retain information. Here are just a few of these resources."
Online Language Classes and Courses
"Learning a foreign language has never been easier. Developments on the web have made streaming language clips easy and efficient. Speakers of different languages are more connected than ever before . . .. While many of these types of services charge for use, [this portion of the site focuses] on those with free content. Most require some kind of subscription for access to all content but offer some material at no cost. The types of lessons include podcasts, written tutorials and video for each learner to choose what works best for them. Ideally, this type of multifaceted system is an education in speaking, writing and comprehending the languages. Some of these programs center on conversational phrases for travelers while others focus on grammar to really understand the language."
Online Archives & Directories: References for College Classes
"When you want a lot of solid resources quickly, sometimes searching and filtering results on your own is too much trouble. This is especially time consuming when you need informative sources that you can cite in a paper–academic sources. Fortunately, there are a number of websites that do the searching, sorting and cataloging for you. Here are a number of these archives and directories, covering a range of topics from historical documents to literary collections online, to even video lectures from well-known and distinguished professors."
Online Research and Writing Courses
"These study tools are designed for students confronting unfamiliar problems and struggling to stay current with their classes. Each is tailored to the specific subject it is included in, though there may be some crossover. Study skills for physics courses, for example, would work equally well in chemistry or other mathematically oriented classes."
Useful Links - New York Times Newsroom Guide to Useful Web Sites
This site, developed by The New York Times to help its reporters get introduced to the best of the Web, provides an excellent list of sources, all annotated, which are helpful for both the beginning as well as the advanced researcher. Free registration is required.
Refdesk: Reference, Facts, News, and Free and Family-friendly Resources
Refdesk is one of the web's best indexes of quality Internet sites. In addition to thousands of outstanding links, it is searchable and extremely well-organized. The materials are of consistently high quality. Best of all, the visitor is not overwhelmed with masses of poorly organized material. It is easy to locate what you are interested in. In addition, the site features a free newsletter, site of the day, and an "ask Bob" feature" for those research questions you can't locate anywhere else.
Shmoop: Study Guides & Teacher Resources
LibrarySpot is an excellent compendium of links to a wide variety of sources. Included are: homework help, the invisible Web, searching online texts, science projects, and numerous reference materials from dictionaries to encyclopedias. While the bulk of the materials reflect traditional library science, there is an effort to keep the site contemporaneous with links related to items in the news.
"is a new learning and teaching resource, made by experts and educators from Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop offers more than 370 smart, fun learning guides and etexts for
Civics, US Government
and an excellent section devoted to
Material is quite readable for students from middle school to college without sacrificing substance. A 2009 winner of a Webby Award.
Top 100 Websites for Academics and Research Students
Written by a graduate student, this site attempts "to provide tips on how to leverage the power of technology for academic and scholarly purposes. In addition to pages on teacher guides, YouTube for teachers, tools for teachers, and free downloads, you will find sections on "great tools for academic research," "academic groups for students and researchers," and "the top 100 academic web sites."
Top of Page