9 Sites For Free Online Courses And Open Courseware

Posted by Harshad

9 Sites For Free Online Courses And Open Courseware

9 Sites For Free Online Courses And Open Courseware

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 07:01 AM PST

Nowadays, education is not limited to the classroom anymore. The advancements of technology and the Internet have granted us access to a wide range of digital learning materials as well as online forums and communities.

There are now many organizations or individuals that offer free online courses and learning materials, and today I would like to bring your attention to a list of websites that offer free online courses and open courseware content for different streams of higher education.

These websites are all part of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) movement. All you have to do to is sign up and you’ll be able to join your favorite courses for free. Online courses, if taken seriously, can indeed provide you knowledge in ways that are no less effective than learning in the classroom. Learning online is wonderful and fun. Give it a try!

1. Coursera

Coursera is the biggest source of online courses, which are based on pedagogical foundations. It currently offers 621 courses in 25 categories from 108 providers – all free to join! The courses span various categories such as Arts, Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Food & Nutrition, Humanities, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Social Sciences, and many more.

Course materials can be downloaded in the form of lecture videos, presentations, and notes. Your marks for weekly assignments and final exam determine your eligibility for the Certificate of Completion. Coursera has also started a paid Signature Track program to provide verified certificates.

Links: About CourseraMore courses

2. Udacity

Udacity is a website that offers professional online courses with a focus on practical and active learning. It currently offers 36 courses spanning 5 categories: Business, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. The courses are also grouped according to different levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advance.

Short quizzes, and assignments are provided after each lesson to test your understanding. You can watch the course videos online or download the archived lessons and assignments in compressed zip format. All the courses are self-paced, which means you can complete particular lectures or assignments at your own pace.

Links: About UdacityMore courses

3. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OCW is the top source of OpenCourseWare on the web. The site offers more course materials than any other website or organization, with reading materials from over 2100 courses in more than 10 top categories (with sub-categories) from over 30 departments. The categories include Business, Energy, Engineering, Health & Medicine, Humanities, Science, Society, and more.

Although MIT OCW doesn’t offer online courses, it’s still the best source of free course materials for students as well as teachers. You can find recorded lectures and other study materials about various topics for free.

Links: About MITMore courses

4. edX

edX brings the best online courses from top universities, including MIT, Harvard University, Berkeley University of California, University of Washington, and more. It currently offers 146 courses in over 20 subjects from more than 30 universities. The courses span various categories such as Business, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Ethics, Food & Nutrition, History, Law, Literature, Philosophy, Science, and Statistics.

It is a not-for-profit open source platform for students and institutions who want to transform learning through technology and pedagogical courses. edX offers self-paced courses, which means you can take the courses at your own pace. You can watch the lecture videos online. You are required to complete all homework and assignments to get the Certificate of Mastery.

Links: About EdXMore courses

5. NovoEd

NovoEd is a website that currently offers 24 free courses and 7 paid courses. The courses span 7 categories: Entrepreneurship, Finance, Business Strategy, Education, Design & Creativity, Math & Science, and Humanities. The courses focus on adopting a practical approach to learning, and encourage team work and group activities.

The courses come with lecture videos and other course materials. You are required to watch the videos and complete the assignments (including group activities) in order to obtain the Certificate of Completion.

Links: About NovoEdMore courses

6. Canvas Network

Canvas Network is an open online course network that offers more than 30 courses spanning various categories such as Arts, Business, Environmental Studies, History, Mathematics, Medicine, and Writing. Course materials, assignments, final grades, and certificate availability vary according to the course and the instructor.

Links: About Canvas Network

7. Open2Study

Open2Study offers close to 50 free courses spanning various categories such as Arts & Humanities, Business, Education, Finance, Health & Medicine, Management, Marketing, and Science & Technology. The courses come with good study materials. And most of these courses only take 4 weeks to complete, which would suit most busy learners.

Links: More courses

8. Course Builder

Course Builder is Google’s experiment in building online courses. It’s a software package that is freely available to anyone interested in creating his/her online course, which can be made available to any number of students on the web. Feel free to browse through the list of existing courses. Course materials, prerequisites, workload, and certification rules will differ from course to course.

Links: Course Builder courses

9. OpenCourseWare Consortium

OpenCourseWare Consortium has various open course content offered by many universities. As of 24 February 2014, it has 24298 courses from 77 providers. Just use the search funtion to look up any course that you’re interested in. You can browse courses by provider, language, and category.

Links: OpenCourseWare courses


How to Set Pp WordPress Using OpenShift

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 05:01 AM PST

OpenShift is a platform-as-a-service from the open source leader, Redhat. It works on the open source OpenShift code running on RHEL systems. OpenShift can be used to host and run a variety of software, and it supports various open source technologies and databases. It has built-in support for several programming languages.

Do you want a free self-hosted WordPress blog? We’re going to demonstrate how to install and run an instance of WordPress blogging software on the OpenShift platform in just an hour.

Why OpenShift?

Good question! OpenShift is just a PAAS like many others, then what’s the fun in hosting your WordPress blog on RedHat’s platform? On top of easy code maintenance using Git, and support for PHP and MySQL, OpenShift comes with a free plan of 3 small gears.

What are gears? Gears are virtual containers with a set of resources that allows users to run their applications. An application can utilize many gears, and that’s what is known as scalability. Small gears provide 512MB RAM and 1GB disk quota under the free plan.

Set Up Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

It’s a simple three-step process:

  1. Create an OpenShift account
  2. Create an application using WordPress source code
  3. Configure WordPress’ required settings.

1. Create An OpenShift account

Sign up for OpenShift if you don’t already own an account. An OpenShift account is required to boot your application framework, submit your app’s code (using Git) and launch your WordPress application.

2. Create An Application

An application is simply a software running on the OpenShift platform. Unlike an application on your Android or Windows device, an application on OpenShift doesn’t demand all of the system’s resources, it only accesses the resources available to it in scale of gears. OpenShift also allows automatic scaling of gears for your application.

Follow the given steps to create an application:

1. Log in to the online console of OpenShift.

2. Choose Applications from the top menu.

3. Click on ‘Add Application…’ button.

4. Choose a type of application: Scroll below and select WordPress 3.x given under the "Instant App" section.

5. Configure the application: Enter your application name, which will be used to create your application’s public URL, and then click on ‘Create Application’ button.

6. Click on ‘No, continue’. You’ll be shown the details of your newly created application. Please make note of database credentials for your application as you may need it in the future.

Well done! You’ve created your WordPress application on the OpenShift platform.

3. Configure WordPress

You’ve started a WordPress application on OpenShift using the WordPress’ Git provided by the OpenShift team, but it’s still not completely configured. It’s just a software hosted on the servers and not a running blog yet. We need to configure the necessary options. Here are the steps:

1. Choose Applications from the top menu.

2. Choose your newly created app from the list.

3. Click on your app’s public URL given at the top. An example of such public URL is blog-aksinghnet.rhcloud.com.

4. Your newly created app gets opened in the browser. WordPress asks for the basics but require information to finalize the installation..

5. Fill them in like below:

  • Site Title: Enter the title of your website. For example, Hongkiat.com, AKSingh.net, etc.
  • Username: Enter a good username that’s not easy to guess. For example, ash34in85, hk493online58, etc.
  • Password: Enter a secure password twice.
  • Your E-mail: Enter your email.
  • Privacy: Leave it checked.

6. Click on the ‘Install WordPress’ button. WordPress should greet you with success!

7. Finally, your blog is ready. Click on the ‘Log In’ button, provide your user credentials and you’ll get signed in to your own self-hosted WordPress. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

All Done

Congratulations for successfully setting up your free WordPress blog. A blog created using OpenShift is no different from any other self-hosted WordPress instance. The major difference is that this one is free and you need not go for a hosting plan to host your own WordPress. What are you waiting for? Log in to your WordPress and get creative!

You might also be interested in:


20 Inspiring Instagrammers You Need To Follow

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 02:01 AM PST

With 150 million active monthly users (as of September 2013) across the globe, Instagram is clearly one of the most popular apps in the world. It is used by many great photographers and is also a great source of inspiration for web designers.

There are many creative individuals who love sharing their creativity in art and design via their Instagram accounts. And to prove to you that these talented people exists, in this post today we are sharing 20 inspiring Instagram accounts that web designers can follow.

From showcases of wonderful artworks to amazing illustrations, new techniques of art-making to great insights on how to draw inspiration from seemingly ordinary things, Instagram is a treasure trove waiting to be excavated by those in search of the fresh, the new and the bold.

@emotionslive. Mike is an artist and designer from Prague with a passion for Renaissance art. He also loves to experiment with various styles and acquire new techniques.

@thefutureforward. Based in New York, The Future Forward is a design studio that specializes in branding, web design, and web development.

@alexmdc. Alex Solis is a web designer and illustrator that works at Threadless. He has a rich imagination that enables him to see the unusual aspects of the ordinary objects around him.

@rileycran. Riley Cran is a Pacific Northwest based designer with a specialty in identity, packaging and illustration. Riley merges historical influences with modern, contemporary solutions that are relevant these days.

@justinmezzell. Justin Mezzell is an illustrator and designer with a focus on illustration, digital art, and user interface/experience design.

@CreativeDash. Dash is a digital studio that specializes in top-end and outstanding creative projects.

@dangerbrain. Based in Florida, Danger Brain Design Agency is a team of developers and web designers specializing in contemporary entertainment.

@logolist. Logolist has a great and regularly updated collection of wonderful logo designs from all over the web.

@designbysalazar. Edgar Salazar is a graphic designer based in California. The account features Edgar’s original designs as well as some that Edgar comes across elsewhere.

@rogie. Rogie King is a great illustrator who also loves people and retro Disney.

@lobanovskiy. Eddie Lobanovskiy is an amazing graphic artist, designer, and photographer from Sarasota, Florida.

@pacoxiao. Paco is a cool web designer from China who creates icons and user interfaces for mobile applications.

@turnislefthome. An independent studio run by Timothy J. Reynolds, who works as a 3D illustrator in Milwaukee.

@de_la_iglesia. David de la Iglesia is a polyvalent illustrator from Madrid.

@creaturebox. A collection of comics, character illustrations and other miscellaneous ideas of Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin.

@dmott70. In his own words, Dave Mottram is a "pencil pusher". He is based in Ohio, USA.

@JacquiOakley. Jacqui Oakley has been an illustrator for over ten years now. She lives in Toronto and specializes in hand lettering and portraiture.

@mcbaldassari. Mc Baldassari is an illustrator and artist from Montreal.

@josecabaco. José Cabaço is a creative director at Nike. Enough said.

@redhongyi. Hong Yi is an artist-architect well-known for being someone who "likes to paint, but not with a paintbrush". She also likes trying out new materials.

Know of any great Instagram accounts that we missed out? Or maybe you just wanna share your own Instagram account that has lots of great designs? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!


7 Tips To Turn You Into The Writer Everyone Wants To Read

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 11:01 PM PST

Have you ever wondered what exactly it is that separates a great writer from an average writer? The obvious answer would be talent. However, ask any great writer and they would argue the point. There are a ton of average writers out there with as much talent as anyone. It’s just that there is some point, a line in the sand, that they are unwilling to cross that keeps them from breaking through.

More than one curious soul have researched the greatest of writers, from contemporary gothic writers like Stephen King to old-world philosophers like Cicero to see what they had to offer on the subject. If they could do it, so could I. The following is a mixture of what they found and what my research turned up.

This is solid advice from the greats both living and beyond the grave, to all of us average writers. I do believe I will take them up on it.

1. How "Easy" It Can Get

I used to brag about how fast I could write but that was before I realized that the really good writers do not find it that easy. One day, I was afforded the opportunity to compare an article I wrote, to one written by someone whom I consider slow but brilliant, and I realized that speedwriting was one of my problems, not a talented virtue.

A good writer will always find it very hard to fill a single page. A bad writer will always find it easy.Aubrey Kalitera, (Why Father Why, 1983).

2. The Scary Truth Stings

Stephen King says in his "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" (2000):

…it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one. (p.136)

A prolific writer who has written hundreds of short stories, novels, poems and more, King is basically telling me that I personally will never be a great writer, however, I can take solace in the fact that there is still hope for to become a good writer.

Even if there is not, as long as I am writing, I am a happy guy.

3. The Best Advice Ever

There is one thing that I am sure most writers would agree upon and that is this: if you want to better yourself and your writing, take the time to learn the basic fundamentals of writing. If it has been awhile, revisit the old textbooks, take an online class, or join a local writing course.

Learning or relearning grammar, vocabulary and the elements of style can only improve your writing regardless of your current skill level.

4. Speak Your Mind Vs Say What You Think

There is some debate between speaking the writer’s mind, (In his or her writing) and the writer saying what he (or she) thinks. Author Walter Benjamin said back in 1938 that the great writers feel that speaking one’s mind is to go overboard.

It is enough to say what one thinks as an opinion and nothing more.

I believe he is saying that the great ones never show their hands or need to pull a foot out of their mouths because they never speak their minds in a tirade. That is advice I may need to heed.

5. It is All in the Details

A good writer pays close attention to detail. A great writer knows better (read the discussion by Clive James here). I tried to pay strict attention to the details of my writing once or twice. The last time, my editor called me a grammar nazi (and rightly so). Apparently, she knew what the great writers know: following too close to the rules makes for boring and monotonous writing.

That is not to say that one should slap words on the page as if they were painting a fence. There is much to be said for being careful with grammar, syntax, and style. However; if a writer is to find their voice, something will have to give a little, lest their voice be that of a dictionary.

6. Boldly Being Bad

Here is a great pearl of wisdom from Julia Cameron. She says that we must dare to be bad when we write. At first, I thought that she was talking about that whole devil’s advocate thing. She is not. She believes that a great writer writes everything that is in his or her head on the topic at hand, then goes back, and edits the bad stuff out.

That is because she knows that very often, some of that bad is very, very good.

7. Why Waste It? (It’s There For A Reason)

I use Zippo lighters and when I run out of flint, they sit in a drawer for months until I purchase more. Bic after disposable bic, they get tossed out until one day my wife started making me give her every empty bic I used up.

Didn’t ask her why she needed them but I soon found out one day when I reached for a pack of flints for my Zippo and had my hand slapped away by the Missus. From her purse, she pulled out a prescription bottle filled with (30 of) the flints she took out of the empty bic lighters she had been collecting.

The point of this story is if you have an editor, use him (or her). Gardner Botsford, (A Life of Privilege… Mostly, 2003) says that the less competent the writer is, the louder he or she complains about having an editor. He goes on to say… "Good writers lean on editors; they would not think of publishing something that no editor had read."

More Good Advice

When it comes to getting great advice from great writers, even an average writer like me can produce an interesting piece of work. Do you have other tips that will help average or at least competent writers improve? Drop us a line in the comments. I can never get enough good advice.


How To Get Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets On Windows 8.1

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 09:01 PM PST

With Windows 8.1, Windows users not only got a brand new flat UI design but also lost desktop gadgets that they had in Windows 7. Desktop gadgets are those handy apps like clock, calendar, unit converter, battery meter, weather app, feed headlines and more. If you miss those little ornaments on your desktop, here’s how to get desktop gadgets (back) on Windows 8.1.

Windows 8 Desktop Gadgets

You will need to install a program which will give you a handful of desktop gadgets that are not exactly the same but similar to those that came pre-installed on Windows 7. The program also allows you to download and install .gadget files from third party sources.

Get Windows 8 Desktop Gadgets

Head to 8gadgetpack.net to download the latest installer. Run it, and you will see a few gadgets on your desktop.

Windows 8 Gadgets

Don’t worry about the transparent sidebar that you see, the sidebar is also a gadget that allows you to have the desktop gadgets stay above your opened or full sized windows. It can be removed just like any other desktop gadget.

Windows 8 Desktop Gadgets

Adding A Desktop Gadget

You can add a desktop gadget the same way you used to add it in Windows 7, by right clicking anywhere on the desktop and selecting Gadgets.

Add Gadget

Another window will open and from there you’ll be able to pick from a handful of classic Windows 7 gadgets.

Gadget List

Each gadget has their own unique option that you can access when you right click on it and select Options.

Gadget Options

Installing And Uninstalling Third Party Gadgets

As mentioned, you can find and download old .gadget files from third-party sources to add to your WIndows 8.1. Once you have found a .gadget file you like, just double click the .gadget file to install it. Once installed, it’ll show up on your desktop.

When installing form third-party sources, please only install files from sources that you trust to avoid installing malware into your computer.

Install Gadget

To uninstall any gadget, just open the gadget list, right click on a gadget and select Uninstall.

Uninstall Gadget



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