The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Contributed by Heather Johnson

Thanks to the Internet, both distance and traditional students have access to free learning tools. There are new Web 2.0 resources being developed every day that are geared toward students. However, separating the good from the bad can be overwhelming. Below are 12 sites that will not only aid your learning and research, they are absolutely free to use.

1.College-Cram – This site serves as both a learning aid and a social networking community. Here, students can connect and join study groups, as well as share information about specific courses and instructors.
2.SparkNotes – Why pay for CliffsNotes when you can have instant, free access to similar study guides on this site? This is a great way to beef up for a class discussion on popular texts, as well as cram for a major test.
3.AnswerU – Similar to College-Cram, this is an online community for students to connect and share information with one another.
4.Google Book Search – Although still in a beta stage, Google Book Search offers free online access to thousands of books. If you are conducting research and need to cite some classic literature, check Google Book Search before you pay for a similar service (or lug yourself to an actual library).
5.MIT OpenCourseWare – Here, the world-renowned MIT offers free learning materials. This site includes lecture notes, syllabi, tutorials, audio and video from MIT professors.
6.SuTree – This is a fun tutorial site that aims to let you "learn how to do anything." Featuring thousands of video tutorials, you just might find something useful for school on this site. At the very least, you will have a lot of fun looking around.
7.Wikipedia – The "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" has raised some controversy amongst educators. While it is true that information found on Wikipedia should never be taken as hard fact, the site can be a great place to start your research.
8.CiteULike – This is a unique site that allows people to save and store their favorite academic papers online. CiteULike even extracts the citation details immediately, helping the site to become organized for every researcher.
9.wikiHow – Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, while wikiHow is the how-to manual that anyone can edit. This site can be extremely useful for all people, not just students.
10.Instacalc – Doing a little math homework? Instacalc offers a free, online calculator than can do anything. It even charts graphs for you! The ability to use a feature-rich calculator from any computer is a handy thing indeed.
11.Clipmarks – This is a social bookmarking tool with a twist. Like using scissors on a computer screen, you can now grab anything interesting from a Web page and save it for sharing on this site. No longer do you need to bookmark a whole page or article – you can actually excerpt just a specific portion of a page.
12.Notefish – Still in a beta phase, Notefish aims to make your Internet research much easier. It allows you to put all your research onto one page… you can even annotate and customize your notes.

Heather Johnson is a freelance writer as well as a regular feature contributor for Distance, a website which helps students in getting distance learning degrees. Heather invites your writing job inquiries as well as comments and questions at her email address:



Anonymous Rudy said...

Heather, thanks for the great article. Students are hard pressed as it is with academic, social, and economic pressures and your suggestions will definitely help.

I also want to thank you for the nice review of our website, College-Cram. We've worked hard to create a social learning site to help students, and it's nice to be recognized as one of the "good guys"!

April 19, 2008 at 12:09 PM  

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