Web Watch Information simplified

Online A web resource akin to a virtual university

It is indeed a daunting task to sift through an overwhelming information and knowledge related to online educational courses. This onerous task is made easy by Education For All (www.edforall.net), which selects, organises and integrates these course resources into a meaningful and coherent context - somewhat akin to a virtual university. The educational resources including video lectures are selected, organised and integrated to form courses or subjects. For a specific course, the resources are usually adapted from a single source such as MIT's OpenCourseWare.

In addition, in order to enhance the effectiveness of a course, good quality content from other sources too are selected and combined incrementally into the course. As viewing and listening do help students absorb deeply the content of a subject, the website groups courses which are accompanied by video recording of lectures. Wherever video lectures are unavailable alternative content such as audio recordings, lecture slides, lecture notes or online course material have been provided a substitute for video lectures. As social interaction is an important part of an educational experience discussion forums are also provided. These are centered around courses to enable
registered users of the website to discuss about the subjects they are interested in.

The online educational course resources have been grouped under Engineering & Technology, Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Business, Other Disciplines, and Seminars.

The Engineering course section encompasses Information Technology, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Elec & Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Marine Technology, and Aeronautical Engineering. The Sciences section covers Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Medicine. Under Social Sciences: Economics, Education, Psychology, Political Science, History, Sociology, and Anthropology are covered. The Humanities section facilitates study of Literature, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Languages, and Philosophy. The Business disciplines includes subjects like Accountancy, Finance, Management, and Marketing.

The Other disciplines section has two divisions Mathematics and Interdisciplinary. The latter, presently, contains a course on Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering and Global Climate Change. The course on Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering, by Yale University Prof W Mark Saltzman, covers the basic concepts of biomedical engineering and their connection with the spectrum of human activity. It serves as an introduction to the fundamental science and engineering on which biomedical engineering is based. And, the Global Climate Change course, by a group of MIT Professors, introduces scientific, economic, and ecological issues underlying the threat of global climate change, and the institutions engaged in negotiating an international response.

Under seminars, one can find a collection of interesting seminars, presentations and lectures from various institutions. These include The World is Flat (Thomas L. Friedman); Medicine: Vision of the Future (Part 1 and 2); Change Your Mind: Memory and Disease; Expand Your Mind: Getting a Grasp on Consciousness; Fighting Cancer with Nanoparticle Medicines; and Protein Recycling: Its Role in Human Biology and Disease; Economics: Ending Global Poverty, and Creating A World Without Poverty (Muhammad Yunus); Education: Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science; Let Nurture Take Its Course: Diversifying the Talent Pool for Science and Engineering; and Post-Affirmative Action Challenges to Diversity in Higher Education; Psychology: The Neuroscience of Social Behavior: From Looking at Faces to Understanding Autism; Interdisciplinary: How Would Climate Change Influence Society in the 21st Century? (Rajendra K. Pachauri); Global and Regional Climate Change: Underlying Science and Emerging Riddles (Veerabhadran Ramanathan); Profitable Solutions to Climate Change; and Life in a Changing Climate.

Conceived and developed by WT Tan, a graduate of MIT, Education For All, at www.edforall.net, is an ongoing project. The courses currently hosted are by no means complete, and the resources for each course may not be optimum. However, with the increasing availability of education resources on the web, EducationFor All looks forward to aggregate enough material for each course and to create enough courses for each field of study.

N S Soundar Rajan

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