March Miscellany: 17 Resources (Or So) for Those in The Know

Here are some of the better links that landed on my desk over the past month. If you’re hungry for more, you can explore past OER newsletters or take a look at our Resources and Tools features. If you liked this page, share it! And, of course, if you know of something I missed, do drop me a line.

Open License

The Rooks’ Guide to C++ – A Creative Commons Licensed Text (Norwich University / Kickstarter)
Short version: “Faculty & students at Norwich University write a C++ textbook over a weekend & release the results under a Creative Commons license.” This is a Kickstarter project, so there are rewards for backers who can cough up a dollar of more (five days left). This is grassroots OER, people! Check the link for more info, watch the video below, and hey…tell ‘em Saylor sent you! See also our Computer Science courses.
[Link]

AnatomyCorner [CC BY-NC 3.0 US]
Anatomy galleries and a virtual cat dissection (sorry). This site combine high-quality photos with good, descriptive text, and it’s very simple to use. If you’ve got the stomach for it (see what I did there?), this site is a great asset to support study or morbid curiosity. Not for nothing, AC is a sister site to Biology Corner, under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license. See also our Biology courses.
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Open Chemistry (UC Irvine) [CC BY-SA]
Launched during Open Education Week 2013, University of California – Irvine’s Open Chemistry has just released lectures for courses spanning the undergraduate curriculum (with a few graduate sections thrown in to boot). Well worth a lingering look; that is to say, “wow.” See also our Chemistry courses.
[Link]

Course: “The Challenges of World Poverty” (MIT OCW) [CC BY-NC-SA]
From the site: “This is a course for those who are interested in the challenge posed by massive and persistent world poverty, and are hopeful that economists might have something useful to say about this challenge.” Includes video lectures, lecture notes, assignments, and more. See also our Economics courses.
[Link]

Course: “Management Communication for Undergraduates” (MIT OCW) [CC BY-NC-SA]
From the site: “The goal of this course is to help students learn to communicate strategically within a professional setting.” Includes lecture notes and assignments. See also our Business and Communication courses.
[Link]

Free

Course: “Elements of Structure” (edX)
Starts April 15th. “[A] first course on the mechanical behavior of deformable structural elements.” Why am I promoting an edX course? Because (1) it’s probably good, (2) it might be a great follow-up to our ME101, and (3) once you’re done with this, come on back to us for all the Mechanical Engineering courses you can handle. See also our Mechanical Engineering courses.
[Link]

BioInteractive (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute up near our way has a site called “BioInteractive” — video, animations, lectures, interactives, virtual labs, etc. It’s pretty nice. I’ve known about it for a while, but haven’t given it its due until now. Re-discovered via the Virtual Bacterial ID Lab. Credit: SR. See also our Biology courses.
[Link]

3D Brain (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
From the site: “The G2C Brain is an interactive 3-D model of the brain, with 29 structures that can be rotated in three-dimensional space. Each structure has information on brain disorders, brain damage, case studies, and links to modern neuroscience research. Ideal for students, researchers, and educators in psychology and biology.” It’s a clean web app, and available for Android, iOS, and Windows 7 mobile platforms. Credit: SR See also our Biology courses.
[Link]

Serious Fun

PBS 2013 Online Film Festival
Video. Online video. Free online video. Enlightening free online video. See where we’re going with this? Twenty-five short films for you to watch in your browser. Great if you need to take a break from you TED Talks addiction. Credit: SR
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Go!Animate
I’m familiar with xtranormal, and Go!Animate appears to fill a similar space. If the former is geared toward fun and storytelling, the latter leans a bit more toward more serious uses — but with plenty of overlap, of course! Personal use is free. I’ve always wanted to try one of these services…Go!Animate might have laid the final straw. Credit: ES
[Link]

Statistics2013.org (AKA The International Year of Statistics)
Stats might be more serious than fun, but there are enough corners of this site inviting exploration, that only the hardest heart could say there isn’t any fun to be had here at all. If nothing else, take a look at this beautiful poster from Significance magazine (PDF) and enjoy a slightly brighter day! See also our Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology courses.
[Link]

News

“License restrictions: A fool’s errand” (John Wilbanks, Nature 28 March 2013)
This is was so good that I praised the article to the stranger who had shared the link. This article looks at open access in academic publishing, and lucidly argues for open licensing. This serves as a great primer for those suspicious of open access and Creative Commons licensing as well.
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“Speed of Light May Not Be Fixed, Scientists Suggest; Ephemeral Vacuum Particles Induce Speed-Of-Light Fluctuations” (ScienceDaily)
You know what’s cool? Science. Turns out that — maybe — the speed of light through a vacuum isn’t actually constant. Blame quantum fluctuations (which incidentally mean that a vacuum…isn’t). Credit: SR. See also our Physics courses.
[Link]

Tools

Little Outliner
Confession: I don’t know how to use this. Not because there are not instructions…there are. More because I’m not enough of a power outliner to deserve such a web app. Here’s the gist: outline maker with collapsible branches and local storage. Exports to OPML (derived from XML). Credit: SD
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TimeandDate.com
They’ve been around nearly twenty years, and yet I forget about it every time, until I do a web search for something like days remaining 2013 (277 days, 6659 hours, 399550 minutes, and 23973001 seconds as of now). All of a sudden, I’m back in familiar territory.
[Link]

Skimr
The latest tragedy on the Interwebs is most assuredly — definitely — the impending demise of Google Reader. Enough pixels have been spend talking it up and calling out alternatively, so I won’t try to cover well-trodden ground. Skimr is one that I heard about through backchannels, however, so it’s worth its own little mention. Still in alpha, this reader promised to be simple, quick, and clean, which might earn it a spot among mobile and business users.
Credit: SD → This FB thread
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Mail Merge for Gmail
Ah, the wonders of searching the Web. Someone asked me about mail merge. “Yeah,” says I, “I don’t think Gmail does that.” But, in the spirit of discovery, and mindful that there are few practical problems for which the someone has not devised a solution, I did a little search: gmail mail merge. The two links are variations on the same underlying code (the second, via LifeHacker, appears to derive from the first at Digital Inspiration). Basically, you make your own copy of a Google Spreadsheet, add contacts and your desired message, and authorize a script to run (at your own risk, I must say). Really easy.
[Link 1]
[Link 2]

Credits:
SD = Stephen Downes / OLDaily
ES = EdSurge
SR = Scout Report