Monday Morning Digest 26 OCT 15

In just under the wire for us East Coasters, it’s the Monday Morning Digest — articles, apps, and other assorted things that grabbed our attention over the past week. Send links our way!

Openly Licensed Educational Resources: Providing Equitable Access to Education for All Learners (WhiteHouse.gov blog)
This post begins by quoting the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and continues with a recap of the recent International Open Education Workshop, co-hosted by the White House and the Departments of Education and State. TL;DR: OER is good and useful. But the quote that jumped out at us was this, describing the findings of a UN survey of youth around the world: “More than improvements in electricity and infrastructure, healthcare, and better jobs, what young people asked for was a good education.”

This News-Writing Bot Is Now Free for Everyone (Wired; h/t Tanner)
Perhaps you already knew that a lot of content your read on the Web is automatically generated from basic data and a selection of templates and rules; the basic idea is to strike a balance between getting information out there and making it at least seem like a person took the time to put it together. This power can now be yours for free, courtesy of an in-Beta service called Wordsmith, to use for good or evil (or something in between).

College textbooks are a racket (The Monkey Cage, via Washington Post)
This post, from a GWU political science professor, is interesting in its own right, but we share it for the vignette included right at the beginning. A professor at Cal State Fullerton is in hot water with his department and university after dropping a $180 textbook for his section of a multi-section class and replacing it with two other texts, one $76 and the other free (and openly licensed). Moreover, the aberrant prof feels that the two new textbooks are better than the one they replace.

The Internet Archive is rebuilding the Wayback Machine to make web history easier to search (VentureBeat)
The buried lede: we’ll have to wait until 2017 for all the updates. But the wait will be worth it; among the changes to expect: better support for both new and old multimedia, partnerships with organizations like Wikipedia to automatically repair broken links, and keyword searches for home pages. If you have never explored the Wayback Machine, today’s the day: visit http://archive.org/web/ and choose a favorite site to follow down the rabbit hole.

The Alternative Credit Project
Self-promotion? Hey, it’s news, and you might have missed it, so here we go. The Alternative Credit Project™ launched this past Thursday with 100+ courses accepted at 40+ colleges and universities from a number of alternative course providers such as — you guessed it — Saylor Academy. Here’s the basic deal: a student struggling to get to the end of a degree program or who has left college and is finding it hard to break back in because of time, money, or location, can take free or inexpensive online courses to earn guaranteed credit toward a degree. Watch this 67-second video to get the basic idea:

Teacher’s Pet Science Videos (YouTube)
Every now and then, we get a permissions request for something we can’t actually give permission for (because we don’t own it). That sends us off on a not-unpleasant quest to find the person who can give permission, which not infrequently re-introduces us to great learning materials that we may not have seen in a while (we link to…thousands). Such was the situation that brought us back to Teacher’s Pet science videos (chemistry and biology, primarily), which we actually wrote about back in January. These videos, according to their author, are “copyright-free, royalty-free public domain material”. So have at ’em!


Image: AllureGraphicDesign via Pixabay (CC0); dummy text via BlindTextGenerator

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