Here’s a piece I wrote for the WSJ on open source education resources. It’s part of the free section of WSJ.com.
A revolution of sorts is sweeping education.
In the past few years, educational material, from handwritten lecture notes to whole courses, has been made available online, free for anyone who wants it. Backed by big-name universities in the U.S., China, Japan and Europe, the Open Education Resources movement is gaining ground, providing access to knowledge so that no one is “walled in by money, race and other issues,” says Lucifer Chu, a 32-year-old Taiwanese citizen and among the thousands world-wide promoting the effort. He says he has used about half a million dollars from his translation of the “Lord of the Rings” novels into Chinese to translate engineering, math and other educational material, also from English into Chinese.
The movement started in the late 1990s, inspired in part by the “open source” software movement, based on the notion computer programs should be free. Open-source software now powers more than half the world’s servers and about 18% of its browsers, according to TheCounter.com, a Web-analysis service by Connecticut-based Internet publisher Jupitermedia Corp. Behind its success are copyright licenses that allow users to use, change and then redistribute the software. Another inspiration was the proliferation of Web sites where millions share photos or write encyclopedia entries.
Free Online College Courses Are Proliferating – WSJ.com
For mind mapping fans, there’s a new Mind Mapping Software Weblog:
The Mind Mapping Software Weblog is designed to provide businesspeople with a focused collection of resources related to visual mapping – its applications, its benefits, and how you can use it to increase your productivity and creativity.
It’s early days. but looks promising. If nothing else, there’s a good list of mind mapping software, which includes some not in my own list.
Update, Feb 15 2007. An online mapping tool that’s cute but questionable in its mindmapping credentials: bubbl.us. In fairness, it talks more about brainstorming than mindmapping, but I’m surprised that it’s not easy to add branches to all four sides of each little box. You can, apparently, share your work with others, which makes sense, but it’s still a little too rough around the edges for me.
Here’s some mind mapping software for Windows or the Mac. Additions welcome.
This week’s Loose Wire column is about TheBrain organizing and brainstorming software:
Expand Your Mind: There’s software to help you do it. TheBrain not only aids in organizing your thoughts but could also stimulate new ideas and connections
When you chat with someone who says, “My brain right this minute is 105 megabytes and there are 52,365 thoughts in there,” you can (a) run a mile, or (b) figure you’re talking to someone who might have something useful to say and stick around. Luckily I chose the latter.
Full text at the Far Eastern Economic Review (subscription required, trial available) or at WSJ.com (subscription required). Old columns at feer.com here.
For readers looking for more resources on TheBrain, check out the Brain page on Loose Wire Cache and some readers’ accounts of how the use the software.