Monday, January 19, 2009

Improve your education (for free!)

Today's "Do More with Less" post is about online education for adults and for kids, and I was amazed by the wealth of information that's out there.

If you're an adult looking to boost your expertise at work, review what you learned in high school (so I -- I mean you -- can help your teenager with her homework), research a new potential career, or if you're just constantly hungry for knowledge, the possibilities are pretty much endless on the internet, but I put together my top five sites for you to start your exploration. The entire list -- with details -- is over at The 36-Hour Day, but here's the cheat sheet:

1.) MIT Open Coursewear. This is quite possibly the biggest education jackpot on the internet — lecture notes, videos, and exams on nearly everything the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology has to offer, except for the actual diploma.

2.) Livemocha. This learning community offers free online lessons in 12 foreign languages — Spanish, French, German, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Icelandic, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese and Korean — and you can practice with members who are native speakers.

3.) With practical offerings such as carpentry and medical billing, GED basics, and remedial courses on everything from algebra to computer fundamentals, is a great place to start studying.

4.) The Library of Congress: American Memory. No formal courses here, per se, but tons of information about, well, everything.

5.) Annenburg Media. This company provides content to many major distance-learning institutions, but you can watch videos on all sorts of subjects for free.

I also found this great piece from Wendy Boswell, pointing out some great individual courses at different colleges, and there are plenty of options for continuing your education that aren’t online as well. Check with your local museum for free-admission days, get a library card and set your own course of independent study, or look up your local community college or vocational school to see what extended learning opportunities are available.

Looking for something for to boost your kids' brains? Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, may schools are cutting back on science education, and some students can really benefit from a little extra experimentation at home. Here are five of my favorite educational sites for kids (again, you can learn more at The 36-Hour Day!):

1.) Exploratorium. More than 18,000 pages and hundreds of scientific subjects.

2.) Zula Patrol. The science and astronomy-focused program is geared towards kids from Pre-K to 2nd grade.

3.) PBSkids. Tying in to Public Broadcasting classics like “Sesame Street” and “Arthur” as well as newer educational programs like “Word Girl” and “Super Why.”

4.) Funbrain. Kids learn most easily when they’re playing, which is one reason why Funbrain is popular with parents and teachers alike.

5.) Enchanted Learning. Enchanted Learning offers easy-to-digest printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners, as well as plenty of craft ideas tucked in among the lessons.

My preschooler loves logging on to for their great games (she's also counting in Spanish now, no doubt thanks to "Dora the Explorer.") What educational sites do you visit? Are there any that your kids love? Please share in the comments here or at The 36-Hour Day!

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