8 free (or almost free) educational resources to broaden your research horizons

A student using learning resources

We live in the digital age abundant with endless information. For the first time in history, anyone can access any knowledge they want to acquire.

The key to these new learning opportunities is Open Educational Resources (OER). This term refers to all materials in the public domain that can be downloaded, modified, and distributed legally for the purpose of enlightenment.

It has been almost 25 years since the various educational resources first appeared in digital format. Today, there are textbooks, videos, courses, degree programs to teach us many skills and develop critical thinking.

Due to the vast network, affordable memory storages on hard drives, and computer science itself, we can accumulate, multiply, and distribute educational resources in many cases for free.

How to understand whether the platform is OER?

The main question lies at the intersection of social benefits and the intellectual property rights of every author. How to distribute content for educational purposes without violating the legal norms?

Let’s take a look at a distinctive feature of OER. It is the open license and legal permission to use, transform, and distribute learning materials that are granted to everyone. Any educational resource that does not clearly indicate its belonging to the public domain and does not have a free license is not an OER.

The most common way to provide a copyrighted educational resource with a free license, thereby turning it into an OER, is to assign it one of the Creative Commons licenses.

According to the 2015 Creative Commons report, open and free standard licenses are already applied to more than 1.2 billion protected works on 9 million websites. When the author places one’s work under the CC license, the copyright remains. This way, one shares the work for free with all visitors, in line with the terms of the type of license chosen.

Here we have gathered an extended list of OERs, which will definitely ease the learning process for every student. All of the materials published on those platforms could be freely used while writing academic essays of different complexity levels, term papers, conducting research or working on other types of academic assignments.

Coursera

This is one of the world’s biggest educational platforms. There are free and paid courses on a variety of topics. The vast majority of courses are available in English with subtitles in several other languages.

Coursera works in partnership with several universities to deliver online courses on physics, engineering, medicine, biology, mathematics, business, computer science, etc. Nowadays, almost anyone with no knowledge or a little experience in any field can take courses developed by prominent world’s universities.

EdX

This is an educational platform created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. It was launched in May 2012.

Today, the courses are mainly available in English, Chinese, Turkish, French, Hindi, and Spanish. The site offers both paid and free options.

After passing them, you can get an official certificate signed by a qualified teacher. Obtained documents can also be mentioned in the CV and LinkedIn profile.

Open Learning Initiative

This open library is a response of Carnegie Mellon University to the global challenges of the 21st century. The goal of OLI is to empower students to improve the quality of learning.

Here you can look up information and recent publications for any topic. There is also the possibility to browse each course syllabus to choose the most fitting option.

Open Yale Courses

In 2007, Yale launched the Open Yale Courses (OYC) project. Scholars designed videos and other lecture materials for undergraduate programs.

On the OYC website, there are several dozens of selected university courses in the humanities, social, biological sciences and many other disciplines.

All materials are in the public domain, and they can be used without registering on the site. OYC does not provide certificates or diplomas.

Anyone can gain new knowledge from video, audio, and transcripts of lectures available on the site.

Udacity

This platform presents a variety of computer science programs. They are supported by Google, NVIDIA, AT&T, Cloudera, MongoDB, etc.

Specialists from Udacity create study groups and appoint instructors to coordinate learning. The platform has an affordable payment policy. You do not pay for the full course – you buy monthly access to it. The faster you learn, the less you pay.

Open CourseWare

This is one of the most popular educational resources from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It has opened the materials of almost all university courses to millions of users who are ready to engage in self-education.

Today, 2,400 courses are available on OCW, and the audience exceeds 300 million visitors. The course catalogue covers all disciplines available at MIT.

Courses in technical specialities gained the most significant popularity. Among the most famous, for example, is a course in linear algebra by Gilbert Streng and courses in physics by Walter Lewin.

Stanford Online

At Stanford University, the Office of the Vice Vice-Rector for Education (VPTL) is developing the Stanford Online platform. It expands educational and career opportunities for both campus and non-university students.

The platform contains free online courses. It is possible to obtain certificates and even a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Stanford Online offers over 100 unique courses in various fields of study.

Khan Academy

The creator of the platform, Salman Khan, helped his cousin sort out school mathematics. For convenience, he uploaded videos with explanations on YouTube.

These educational videos went viral and gained a lot of views. In 2006, Khan decided to launch a site that will collect educational materials in various fields.

The Academy website has a large selection of courses in mathematics, from simple school arithmetic to differential equations and linear algebra. The section of natural sciences contains courses in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. Separate chapters are devoted to computer and economic sciences as well as humanities.

Final Words

These were the best and most trustworthy educational platforms on the web.

Each of them was established to cut down illegal dissemination of intellectual property. The development of OER remains the primary goal of the prominent educational establishments along with non-profit organizations.

It requires not only a general awareness of its importance and systematic support. There is also a question of the widespread use of open educational licenses.

Both students and teachers can benefit from free access to educational resources.

Bio

Donald Jefferson works as a quality assurance specialist at https://essaypro.com/. Years of working in the field of essay writing brought an extensive understanding of intellectual property rights.

Donald has gathered a list of the best educational platforms. Students can use them for conducting in-depth research and engaging in self-education.

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