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April, 2012:

Stanford School of Engineering Opens Online Courses

The Stanford School of Engineering has begun to offer online classes free of charge to anyone around the world. The program is called Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE), and currently offers 13 different courses in the topics of computer science, artificial intelligence, linear systems and optimization, and miscellaneous engineering topics.

Students of SEE’s open courses have access to class lectures, syllabi, handouts, assignments, exams, and software. Additionally, SEE students can communicate with each other online, allowing collaboration for understanding.

It’s great to see Stanford contributing to the open course world. SEE is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Introducing Google Drive

Google has announced the arrival of its file sharing service, Google Drive. Similar to other cloud file sharing services like Dropbox and Evernote, Google Drive allows users to upload files that are stored in a cloud storage system. These files are then accessible from any device where Google Drive is installed (mobile devices, desktop, laptops, tablets).

What sets Google Drive apart from the other aforementioned services? For starters, Drive is integrated with Google Docs and the tools that come with it. Any file uploaded to Google Drive can be available for collaboration, and files can be edited directly from Google Drive. Another perk is that files from Google Drive can be accessed through an internet browser–no software install needed! This way, you can access your files on any given computer with internet access. Google Drive also uses text recognition (as Evernote does), making the process of searching through your documents for something much less tedious. It seems as though Google Drive may be the best of all worlds!

The features and space do come at a cost, however. Google Drive gives users their first 5GB free (comparable in space to an inexpensive USB flash drive). If they feel they need more room to store files, upgrade options are as follows:

  • 25GB = $2.48/month
  • 100GB = $4.99/month
  • 1TB = $49.99/month

Source: Google Drive is here! Really!…

Bookshare: An Online Library for the Print Impaired

Bookshare is a site that provides free digital books to those whose disabilities make reading a traditional printed book very hard or impossible. Since Bookshare just celebrated 10 years in business, we thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight the great resources the site provides for students with disabilities.

Bookshare is completely legal, as it operates under the Chafee Amendment. This amendment is an exception to US copyright law that allows books to be freely distributed to those with certain disabilities, as long as the books are in a format that accommodates those disabilities. Bookshare serves those with visual impairments, physical disabilities (those that prevent one from holding a book or turning pages, for example), as well as those with severe learning or reading disabilities.

To accommodate different disabilities, the books come in a few formats. Bookshare supplies ebooks with additional text-to-speech, braille, and large print options. Most books are scanned and turned into ebooks by Bookshare volunteers, while some are even donated directly from publishing companies. Once you become a member of Bookshare, you are free to browse and download the entire ebook collection.

With hundreds of thousands of accessible, print-impaired-friendly books, Bookshare is an incredibly valuable resource for students, teachers, or parents.