Saturday, March 31, 2007

Beth's Top 10 Kick-Arse SL Videos

Right…so…I am benched from Second Life, as my puter decided to blow up. My college gave me another one to use, but, alas, the video card is “not supported by Second Life.” Poo.

So, I actually got some work done, and then decided that I simply missed SL too much. I couldn't look at my pictures because they were lost in the Crash of 2007. I had to rely on some pics from the King of Educational SL Resources, Pathfinder Linden.

Alas, I needed moving images, so, I hopped onto YouTube and decided to find 10 cool videos ABOUT SL (since I can’t go in myself).

Here they are (not in any special order, mind you):

1. I lie. I have a favorite. Kurt Vonnegut, author of my favorite short story ever – Harrison Bergeron – was in SL and here in the Video.

2. U2 on YouTube from SL (say that three times fast) raises awareness about (a charity to end AIDS).

3. Second Life: Get One has a lot of zany images that demonstrate the possibilities of SL.

4. Machinima: Text 100 in Second Life demonstrates how SL can be used in business, and the discussion points can be applied to education, as well. I think it is an advertisement for the company that put it together, but you can go ahead and ignore that part (I did, hehe).

5. Tour of Info Islands is awesome because it really shows the potential of SL for the nerdy-cool folk like me.

6. A wee video about the making of Suzanne Vega’s SL Guitar is pretty wicked, too.

7. Of course, you sooooooo need to hear her sing Tom’s Diner in SL, and the gorgeous Ms. Vega was the first Big Name recording artist to show up and be cool in SL. WOOT WOOT!

8. Okay, I am not a Trekkie, but I do know others who admit their addictions. So, if any of you out there are Treksters, check out this clip.

9. I am a huge fan of Sun MicroSystems for their support of the SL platform. Here is a video of the Sun Pavilion and their first press release in SL. Visionaries.

10. Finally, I sooooo hope this exists in SL because I truly am an addict of the Game Show Network, and – holy pete – I hope the Price is Right is in SL, complete with neutering ads by Bob-the-Boss-Barker.

Ugh, Now I want to GO INWORLD AND FIND BOB!!! Pathetic, I know.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Top 14 MIT OpenCourseWares (#1-5)

The moment you've all been waiting for: the top 5 MIT OCW's:

5. Chinese I (Regular), Spring 2006
Lectures: None
Readings: Free online textbooks and .mp3 files
Study materials: Flash cube study tool, three sample exams

Although there are no lecture videos or notes, this course stands out for the great free textbook and audio pronunciation files. Additionally, through a downloadable study software, you can test yourself. Students might also want to check out Knuckles in China-Land and some of the Chinese language-learning sites we've looked at.

4. Symmetry, Structure, and Tensor Properties of Materials, Fall 2005
Lectures: Video/Audio
Readings: All readings provided
Study Materials: Problem sets

From the MIT site description - "This course covers the derivation of symmetry theory; lattices, point groups, space groups, and their properties; use of symmetry in tensor representation of crystal properties, including anisotropy and representation surfaces; and applications to piezoelectricity and elasticity."

3. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (Spring 2005)
Lectures: Audio (see below), very detailed notes
Readings: Free online textbook and links to other related free readings
Study materials: iCampus, projects, 2 exams with answers

One of the first core courses for undergraduates studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The site uses a free textbook and very detailed lecture notes containing the power point presentation and more than 20 pages of notes per lecture. Additionally, through iCampus, you can listen to audio lectures and you can use a variety of tools to test yourself online (it's a bit tricky to find the lectures, you need to link to iCampus under other resources and sign-up for a free account). The OLS discussion group is more active than most.

2. Aircraft Systems Engineering, Fall 2005
Lectures: Video/Audio, most lecture notes, lecturer bios
Readings: All readings provided
Study Materials: Sample student projects, image gallery

The course was administrated by the Space Shuttle Orbiter Project Manager and a shuttle astronaut. Guest speakers provide the majority of the content, discussing topics such as system design, accident investigation, and the future of NASA's space mission.

1. Introductory Biology, Spring 2005
Lectures: Video
Readings: Have to buy one textbook, but also uses a second online textbook
Study Materials: Problem sets, recitation problems and exams - all with detailed solutions

Biology core material course covering the fundamental principles of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology. Lots of study materials provided.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quintira Search Clouds

Oksana mentioned that I haven't been posting music videos in a while, so thought I should get back in the habit of doing it. This duet Alejandro Sanz/Shakira duet's been on the radio a lot the past couple days (and stuck in my head), so here you go!

Catching up on a bunch of great email updates from people. Promise to have them all up over the next few days. Quintura is one of these suggestions that I really like. There are plenty of new search engines out there, but this one has a very intuitive and functional cloud interface. Enter a search term and related, suggested terms appear. Choose appropriate ones to refine your search. A new Quintura for Kids is also available.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Top 14 MIT OpenCourseWares (#6-10)

Part two of our three part series. Here are the MIT courses ranking 6-10.

10. Quantitative Physiology: Organ Transport Systems, Spring 2004
Lectures: None
Readings: Detailed related notes corresponding to lecture topics
Study materials: Problem sets and exams with solutions; related resources

Although this course has textbooks to purchase listed in the syllabus, the primary materials are available as pdfs. Detailed problem sets for studying are also available.

9. Logic I, Fall 2005
Lectures: None
Readings: Textbook in development
Study materials: Problem sets

Very detailed readings from textbook in development by MIT faculty entitled "Logic: The Art of Persuasion and the Science of Truth".

8. Software Engineering for Web Applications (Fall 2003)
Lectures: Detailed notes
Readings: Two free online textbooks
Study materials: Problem sets and exams

A course with two online textbooks (Internet Application Textbook and SQL for Web Nerds). Also included are detailed problem sets and exams - both with answers. Course is available in Spanish, too.

7. Advanced Fluid Dynamics of the Environment, Fall 2002
Lectures: Detailed notes by topic and sub-topic
Readings: None
Study materials: Problem sets, iCampus site

Very detailed lecture notes and iCampus site with sixteen modules explaining topics such as waves, basic laws, thermal effects, etc.

6. Electromagnetic Fields, Forces, and Motion (Spring 2005)
Lectures: Detailed notes
Readings: Free online textbook
Study materials: Downloadable problem sets and exams with solutions; video demonstrations

This course examines electromagnetic forces, stress tensors and other fun Maxwell-related concepts. The site has the full text of the textbook used in the first half of the course and 24 videos demonstrating the concepts. Although there are no audio/video of the classes, detailed notes are available as well as great downloadable problem sets and exams with solutions.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Top 14 MIT OpenCourseWares (#11-14)

Earlier this month we talked about the "turn-key" OpenCourseWare. In a turn-key OCW, the student has all the materials they need to use the course. There's no need to buy a textbook, no gaps in information, and plenty of study materials available.

Maybe we gave MIT a little bit of short shrift. While it's true that some of their courses provide sparse materials, no other institute on the planet has opened their doors as wide as MIT. And among the materials there are some real gems.

Here's our list of MIT's best courses. Some might not completely classify as "turn-key" courses, they're pretty darn close (the top 5 definitely classify). All these courses have textbooks and/or detailed notes. Some have audio/video lectures or demonstration. Thanks to Steve Carson and Chris Johnson at MIT for providing a short-list that we used as a basis for these rankings.

Numbers 11 through 14 are listed today. The rest will be up in two future posts appearing over the next few days. As a reminder, these ranking are not based on the quality of teaching, but the extent and variety of materials provided.

14. Classical Mechanics: A Computational Approach, Spring 2002
Lectures: None
Readings: Free online textbook
Study materials: Problem sets

Course studying the fundamental principles of classical mechanics, with a modern emphasis on the qualitative structure of phase space. This course also has other course materials online, including downloads and supporting documentation for the Scheme Mechanics System.

13. Structural Analysis and Control (Spring 2004)
Lectures: Some notes
Readings: Free online textbook
Study materials: Problem sets

Course discussing computer-based methods for the analysis of large-scale structural systems. Free textbook and lecture notes totaling about 100 pages. Problem sets also available.

12. Inventions and Patents (Fall 2005)
Lectures: None
Readings: Free online textbook
Study materials: None

Course with full downloadable textbook, Create or Perish, and many exemplary student papers. Also lots of good links to relevant sites.

11. Managing Innovation: Emerging Trends (Spring 2005)
Lectures: Detailed notes
Readings: Free online textbook
Study materials: None

From the Sloan school of management, Eric von Hippel's Democratizing Innovation text takes center-stage, free to download under a CC license. To support the text, the course also provides lecture notes.

Rare Book Room

This site contains about 400 rare books photographed page by page at high-resolution (more than 200 MB in some cases). Using this site, you can browse all of the classics prepared in this way by Octavo over the past ten years. Among the selections are original editions of Poor Richard's Almanac, lots of Shakespeare, old bibles and classic science texts. Go here to see all texts available.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bits and Pieces for Educators

I have been collecting a few things around the Web in my hunt for good content to put into my Literature Alive! project in Second Life. These tools and resources have been so incredibly useful that it would be SUCH a crime not to pass them along to you!

The Open Shakespeare Project is an awesome tool for those of us still teaching the Bard. They use the Gutenberg Goodies, but are also looking for some free hands to volunteer. The package is housed by the Open Knowledge Foundation (woot woot for OKF!). Many thanks to Rufus Pollock for posting the message...that lead to the exploration...that lead to the post (the web...T'is a web of wonder :-) For those of you with a little skepticism about the TRUTH about Billy S. - take a look at Mark Anderson's Shakespeare” By Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, The Man Who Was Shakespeare.

My newest best friend is the lovely and free VIXY program. It converts anything movie-ish to a file like QT (which is the only thing that runs in SL..). A word to the ethically is against the TOS of both YouTube and Google Video to convert their encrypted be sure to email the content owner and get some lovin' first (and a permission slip).

If I were at all creative and good at graphics, I am sure I would LOVE the Gimp program. I have it; it looks like it is fun. But, alas, I am pathetic and don't know what to do with it. I do know that a lot of my SL friends use it and swear by it (and at me....har har), and they say it is just as lovely as Paint Shop Pro (and it is FREE).

The awesome site, Brainy Betty, is sooooooo worth another mention here at Stingy Scholar. It is a must have if you use PPT to create Jpegs for loading into SL.

Finally, if you are planning to use SL to teach or you want to lurk around and spy on those of us who do....grab yer horse and join SLED. Many of the good leads I get happen right there...and, giddy up :-) You will also want to check out the SLEDucating Blog (handy scripts, lots of fun).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Zamzar - Free Online File Conversion Tool

Zamzar is a free online file conversion tool that allows you to convert Document, Image, Music and Video Formats without having to download any software. For example, you can convert a PDF document to a .doc file, or you can convert an MP3 file to a .wav file with this online tool. There are literally hundreds of different conversions supported. See a list here.

Zamzar also has the ability to convert files from URLs with support for a variety of video sites, including YouTube.

The interface is super easy to use. Once you have uploaded your file to be converted, you supply an email address to which Zamzar will send your converted file. You are then given 24 hours in which to download the file. Keep in mind, there is a 100 MB limit in place for each file. The site indicates there can be up to a one hour delay between submitting your file and getting back the converted file. I did a test conversion with a larger PDF file and had my conversion back in about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Brookings Institution Transcipts Collection

The Brookings Institution has a great webpage including complete transcripts of hundreds of events since 1999. For those unfamiliar, the nonprofit is a well-known US policy think-tank. The events cover a wide range of economics and political issues.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dragonflies of Manitoba

The Province of Manitoba today launched the Dragonflies of Manitoba Education Program, a web-based education resource on Manitoba dragonflies emphasizing their biodiversity, basic biology, ecological role and conservation needs.

Cool stuff.... Check it out here Dragonflies of Manitoba.

Self Made Scholar

The Self Made Scholar is a fantastic new website on our favorite topic - learning for free on the web. Jamie has compiled the most comprehensive and usable list I've seen of free online classes. Over the next few months, the site will continue to gather key resources and post extended articles teaching people how to learn independently.

I spoke with Jamie over the weekend and she's also agreed to do a post here on The Stingy Scholar from time to time to discuss some issues related to free learning and point out some good materials he's posting on Self Made Scholar.

Primary Source List

Another good link suggested by Avi, this is a list compiled by for archives or source documents in topics such as new, math, history, arts and entertainment. We've seen many of these sources before, but this is a pretty good short-list.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Top 10 Firefox Add-ons for Researchers

If you use the internet as a serious research tool, you've probably already switched to Firefox. But if you're yet to explore Firefox add-ons, you're missing out.

Here are our top 10 add-ons for research. Some integrate search and bookmarking sites into your browser. Others provide ways to view and take notes on pages. Some make minor, but wonderful adjustments. If you've never installed a firefox add-on before, now's the time.

(1) Fleck - Lets you slap post-it notes on a webpage and share the results with others (who don't need to have sign-up with Fleck). Fleck adds an unobtrusive yellow dot alongside the URL bar. Click on it to open Fleck tools. Trailfire is a similar product, but Fleck wins out better for aesthetic and simplicity.
How to use: Click the yellow dot near the URL bar.

(2) Firefox Showcase - Displays Firefox tabs visually within one window. Choose one of the page tabs to switch to it. Very handy when working with tons of pages simultaneously.
How to use: Select View>Showcase (or Shift+12).

(3) StumbleUpon - With StumbleUpon, you can randomly flip through excellent sites pre-selected by other users. This is one of those addictive products that works much better than it sounds. This isn't so much a fine-toothed research aid as a chance to randomly come across an unexpected piece of research gold.
How to use: Log-in using the Stumble-upon toolbar. Choose a channel to view pages or hit the "Stumble!" button to load random pages related to your topics chosen during sign-up.

(4) bookmarks - This add-on changes the firefox bookmarks to your bookmarks. Very handy when you work on multiple computers. Best of all is the ability to delete bookmarks using the right-click button. If you choose to display most-visited bookmarks on the toolbar and you'll have a row of icons for easy access.
How to use: Hit the "tag" button near the URL bar to add a bookmark. Click on the icon to browse your bookmarks.

(5) Breadcrumbs - A handy extension that records the sites you visit and lets you search within them. So, for example, if you came across a great page mentioning Benjamin Franklin but can't remember which, open Breadcrumbs and run a search to find it quickly.
How to use: Go to Tools>Breadcrumbs and select "Search Pages".

(6) Resurrect Pages - Ever find an article linking to a great website with exactly the information you need? Excited, you click on the link...and the page is dead! With this add-on you can resurrect that page by using the five big cache/mirrors (CoralCDN, Internet Archive, Google/Yahoo/MSN Caches).
How to use: Right-click on any dead page and choose a mirror.

(7) - Firefox has a huge list of dictionary and translation add-ons. Try them out and see what's best for you. Personally, I like the quick look-up because it provides a number of different definitions, such as Barron's legal and economic meanings.
How to use: Right-click and choose "look-up in"

(8) Highlight all - A simple but super-handy add-on that highlights all appearances of a given word. Hit F8 to turn on the extension then highlight a word with your mouse. All appearances of the word with be in yellow.
How to use: Hit F8 to turn on the highlighter. Select any word with the mouse and all instances will appear in yellow.

(9) Searchbar autosizer - Another simple add-on you'll soon take for granted. Install this and you'll notice that the Google searchbar has shrunk. Start typing and it will expand to fit what you're looking for.
How to use: Automatic. Just type in the Google search bar as always.

(10) Googlepedia - As with dictionaries, there are a ton of search add-ons, many letting you use multiple engines simultaneously. With this extension, whenever you do a Google search, the wikipedia results appear alongside. If you click on an internal wikipedia link leading to another wikipedia page, new Google results for that term appear.
How to use: Automatic. Will appear when you conduct searches from

We should also mention the Greenstone Search Bar, a tool for searching through the massive New Zealand digital library collection. This collection includes the Gutenberg project and dozens of other huge collections dealing with medicine, anthropology and other areas. Unfortunately, the toolbar is a little obtrusive and takes up way too much browser space. But try installing it and playing around because it's a great way to find all of the materials on this site.

These are just a few good ones. There are tons of great add-ons for thing such as modifying the download window or swiping all the embedded media on a page. If you know any good ones we include add them below or send us an email.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mysterious Universe

Not strictly a free learning post, I've decided to stray just this once to inform you of a podcast I've recently become enthused by on my travels. Mysterious Universe is basically a plethora of the weird and super-weird goings on in this World (and on others apparently). Hosted by an enthusiastic Australian by the name of Benjamin Grundy, the podcast has become incredibly popular. Prompted by this success, Mr Grundy quit his day job and took to podcasting full-time. I must say, some of the stories are incredible, others farcical. However, there is no bias to the way he reports, it's all in good spirits (literally).

Anyway, if you fancy a departure from intense learning, then pop over to the website and have a look around. The links and stories posted on there are equally as exotic. If a live sheep being lowered into a hole reported to be 80,000 feet deep, only be brought back up dead and pregnant with a baby seal with human eyes, then hey - you know where to go! Ciao. P.S. What's wrong with this duckling?


A recent discovery of mine has taken me into the realms of space travel and all the wonders associated with it. Released in 2000 by Dr Martin Schweiger, a computer scientist at University College London, Orbiter is a closed source freeware space flight simulator for Windows. Designed for space enthusiasts and general sim enthusiasts alike, it is function-orientated focusing mainly on maneuvering both realistic & fictional spacecraft. It is an ongoing project with numerous updates & add-ons, the most recent being September 2006. With the focus on being more a realistic sim than an arcade one, the functions included are impressive, for example; solar sailing, orbital, sub-orbital & interplanetary travel, docking & docking attachment systems, satellite retrievals, planetary motion, gravitational effect, atmospheric flight, and the option of being able to construct your very own space station. There is even a planetarium mode whereby the user can overlay ecliptic & celestial grids over a starmap, introduce coordinates, plot positioning & relay comm information. Visually the sim is superb given that it's a free programme. 3D virtual cockpits, MFD's (Multifunctional displays) & HUD's (Heads-up display) make up the screen visuals while commands are made via the keyboard, mouse and even joystick. Customising these views & commands to include more complex system instruments makes for a more realistic sim.

There is a rather steep 'learning curve' before you get the hang of piloting the many number of crafts & missions available, but like all sims, for those interested it is challenging and fun at the same time. I'm hoping my attempts at summarising this highly complex sim has been successful. However, you really should take a look at the official introduction of Orbiter for a more in-depth review, and of course the official website for the download, gallery's, requirements, reviews, etc.

For a general review of this sim, without spending too much of your work-time on non-work-time things, head over to that site we all know and love, wikipedia for the 'lowdown' on Orbiter as I believe you Americans call it. Oh, and here's one more tempting screenshot to finish off with... Till next time my friends.

Monday, March 05, 2007

AOPA - Part 3 - 'Weather Wise'

AOPA - Weather Wise, Ceiling & Visibility

First off, I must apologise for not posting a single 'post' last week. Work combined with a heavy dose of the flu are not the greatest colleagues. However, please find Part 3 of the AOPA online courses, entitled 'Weather Wise'. This course offers a brief insight into the perils of certain weather conditions, cleaver tips for what to look out for before and during flight, along with a clever little quiz at the end. This course should take you about 40-50 minutes. As usual, please find some screen shots for your viewing pleasure, and until next time. Link to the course;

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Open Learn Has Lots of Good, Free Stuff

Let's keep it real. (Is that antiquated slang? I have a feeling no one says that anymore).

It's great to talk about important issues and intellectual debates...blah blah blah...but the Stingy Scholar is really all about the swag. That's right, baby. We want the free stuff. So let's drop the whole development of the OCW movement angle and look at the awesome free stuff that the Open University is providing under the name Open Learn.

As we were saying, the OCW's are short versions of full paid courses. Here are some particularly good courses to check out:

What do genes do?
What is the genome made of?
French: Ouverture
Motion Under Gravity
Potable Water Treatment

We've pointed out these courses because they contain a lot of neat audio/video resources or are particularly well-developed, but Open Learning has a ton of good course. Especially in business and arts/humanities - two areas where there are not nearly enough OCW's. Check out these pages on Hume and Delacroix. A full index of all courses is here.

These are all self-contained modules and there is no need to buy a textbook (although there is often links to good external resources). You can also keep on online journal and discuss the materials with other students in related forums

The Open University is developing a number of online tools in the Lab Space. Lots of clever ways to speak with other users and link ideas together.

Over the next year these courses are going to get even more developed. Great for us.

MIT vs. The Open University: A Step Towards "Turn-key" OCW's

Over the past week I've been involved in some interesting discussions with people at MIT and the Open University about "Turn-key" OCW's. Borrowing a concept from corporate finance, a "Turn-key" OCW is a ready-to-use module complete with all the materials a student needs to learn.

We here at the Stingy Scholar applaud the efforts of MIT, Berkeley, Utah State and other universities sharing course materials. However, in most cases an online user cannot actually, using the provided materials in the OCW, experience the course to the same degree as a student in the classroom.

Perhaps only some of the lectures are on the site (if any). Or perhaps the uploaded materials lack context and are hard to follow. One of the most frustrating problems is the need to pay $100 or more for the course textbook. That's pretty expensive if you're actually enrolled in the class and even harder to stomach just to follow an online syllabus.

A "Turn-key" OCW would provide you with all of these materials. The online user would not be at a disadvantage for lack of materials.

We all love open coursewares, but the movement is still in its infancy. And already we're starting to see two sides form around this very point. The two sides are headed by MIT and the Open University.

With MIT OCW's, we get a glimpse of full, world-class university courses. The full syllabus is online so we see exactly what these students are reading. Often we get pdf notes and reading materials. And in many cases we can watch or listen to the lectures.

Open Learn, on the other hand, provides a shortened version of the paid course. While these self-contained modules might lack the depth of the paid courses, they are complete with all of the materials you need to use them.

Let's review this dichotomy. MIT presents the full course and allows you to access part of it. It's like glimpsing into an classroom through a peephole. The Open University provides you with a mini-version of a proper course. You have your own complete classroom, but it's the "light" version.

There's merit to both approaches. MIT provides a great tool for professors developing their own courses and looking for example to model. It's also fantastic for students wanting to simulate a real MIT course. The Open University provides a tool for home schoolers' and independent learners - people that want to get started learning now. People that don't want to fill in the gaps.

Over the next few weeks we're going to look at some courses that fall somewhere in the middle. Courses that might properly be called "Turn-Key" Open Coursewares. If you've been using some good examples, let us know.

Oh yeah, and check out the MIT vs. Open Learning debate here on the Open Fiction blog. See? I told you it was a real debate.

Win a Chance to Play Hockey with Guy Kawasaki

So I wouldn't usually post something like this, but I love Guy Kawasaki and I love hockey. Most of all, I think it's cool that these Stanford guys participating in the EntrepreneurshipWeek Innovation Challenge would ask me to post something on their competition entry.

Here's the background - the students are given a pad of 100 post-it notes and they have to find a way to make as much money as they can. Their idea: raffle off one of the prizes, based on the assumption they are going to win it.

Pretty ballsy, huh? Well, I suppose that's the spirit of entrepreneurship. So you can bid for one of the post-it's on eBay. The top 10 bidders receive a post-it and, assuming these students win, you will be joining them and Guy Kawasaki for some hockey. Hurry up 'cause there's only 12 hours left to go!