Web Platforms to Enhance Students’ Knowledge and Skills

The following is a guest post written by Rachel Bartee, an ESL teacher, freelance writer, and passionate blogger.  She is constantly looking for ways to improve her skills and expertise. Her life principle is “Always do more than you can”. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.


websitestoboostknowledgeandskillsToday, lifelong learning and self-improvement is not just an option, it is a necessity. Perhaps Albert Einstein put it best:

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

If you are a student, this is inarguably the best time in history to be one. If any previous generation of students from any point in history could witness the wealth of knowledge available today and the ease through which it can be accessed, we are willing to bet that they would gladly trade. And really, in this day and age, there are so many different resources and opportunities students can take advantage of to expand their knowledge on just about any subject.

Below is a list of 20 web platforms that will help aspiring minds learn new skills and improve existing ones:

1. Big Think

Although conceived as an Internet forum, this resource is so much more than that. Featuring interviews, presentations, and discussions with some of the significant figures of today (like Ralph Rivera, Director of BBC Digital or Stefan Weitz, Senior Director of Search, Microsoft and many others), Big Think covers a myriad of subjects across differing areas of expertise. With over 3,000 interviews available for viewers to explore, it is an endless source of knowledge, and has been rightfully dubbed the “YouTube” for ideas.

2. Daily Curiosity

By providing interesting facts on five subjects every single day, this app, just as its name indicates, will satisfy your daily curiosity for knowledge. It covers a wide range of topics, presented in text or video form for easy viewing. There is also a great “Key Facts To Know” section with pertinent information that any trivial pursuit buff would love.

3. BrainPump

BrainPump contains tons and tons of videos on various educational subjects such as physics, biology, history, technology, and nature, among others. Learning something new every day by watching a video is a breeze, and this is a great resource to help accomplish that goal.

4. Socratic

Socratic is an advanced digital tutor and homework assistant. Using its unique algorithms, it can help students overcome their academic challenges by providing them with the most comprehensive and easy-to-read topics, articles, and data on any given subject.

5. Quora

Here you can find some of the most detailed and in-depth answers to complex question by simply asking. Post your question to the site and it will be answered, edited, and expanded on by community members and experts in that particular field.

6. Mental Floss

One of the best online magazines, Mental Floss covers a range of topics that could be of interest to students. Apart from interesting articles, the magazine also provides quizzes and videos, which are guaranteed to keep students glued to their screens.

7. EduGeeks Club

Check out the blog section on this site which offers advice on how to write effective and A+ rated college and university papers. With tips on writing last-minute essays or dissertations, and info on how to improve your literacy level, this site provides articles that students are sure to find interesting and insightful.

8. Stuff You Missed in History Class

The webisodes on this site are presented by two fantastic hosts, Tracy Wilson & Holly Frey.  Sit back and enjoy as they walk you through parts of history which haven’t found their way into history books, yet are equally relevant and intriguing. The episodes are interesting and will teach you new lessons while helping separate facts from fiction.

9. Wolfram Demonstration Project

Hosted by Wolfram Research, this projects uses Demonstrations, interactive programs, to visually present a range ideas from different fields of science. The project is open-sourced, and currently offers over 10000 demonstrations.

10. UReddit

Here you can choose to register for and attend over 100 courses on a variety of subjects. There are no boring or endless lessons, only the stuffs that interest you and will help boost your knowledge and skills. The project is crowd-sourced, as well as open-sourced.

11. WikiHow

WikiHow is probably the best online forum for learning new skills and crafts. With detailed descriptions, graphics, and videos, the site is intended to help you master just about anything. The content is informative, easily digestible, and highly recommended.

12. Ted-Ed

The TED platform is famous for its TED Talks, which are hosted by some of the most progressive and prominent experts of today. But, the platform has also launched an educational website, where users can create lessons based on a particular TED talk, article, or YouTube video in order to help others learn new facts.

13. Memrise

Memrise boasts a strong community, which allows it to be one of the best online learning tools and a place where you can find numerous different courses created by its members. Although it focuses primarily on teaching and learning new languages, it also provides resources for other academic subjects, in addition to helpful mnemonics-enhanced flashcards.

14. Learnist

Dubbed the “Pinterest for education”, this resource acts like a clipboard for knowledge. Here you can find and share interesting pedagogical content, follow experts from all over the globe, and post the information that you find most educational and informative to your board.

15. Scratch

Created at MIT, Scratch is a visual programming language that enables students to enter the world of advanced programming through a more engaging and unusual means. By creating animations and games, among other things, students can cultivate and develop new coding skills while enjoying the sometimes less-than-enjoyable process. It is a free platform, making it the ideal place for students, experts, and teachers to come together and work towards a common goal.

16. Knowledge Lover

Knowledge Lover is an online editorial that will help you learn and beef up your knowledge through new subjects, ideas, and articles provided on a regular basis. It is also a content-curating platform.

17. Wise Geek

One of the downsides of having more than a billion websites available on the web is that it can be hard to find a great source for short, simple answers to basic question. Wise Geek remedies that problem by providing concise and informative facts, gathered and shaped by their researchers, writers, and editors.

18. Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular and effective language-learning tools available online. The process of learning is broken down into four sections: listening, speaking, translating, and answering. Instead of focusing on tedious grammar rules, Duolingo teaches languages as they are used in real life.

19. FutureLearn

With FutureLearn, you can choose from a large selection of different courses, and watch lectures given by some of the top academic institutions in the world. Each course is divided into easy-to-learn lessons and can be taken on any platform.

20. How Stuff Works

Interested in how things work? This is the best place to find answers and explanations in the shape of brilliant articles, podcasts, and videos. Learn something new and then quiz yourself on what you have read/watched. Working to expand your knowledge, their writers really know how to make every topic interesting and engaging.



These helpful tools and resources can help quench your thirst for new knowledge and motivate to continue your learning. Check them out today and catch up on all the facts and skills you may have been missing out!


Author’s Bio: Rachel Bartee is an ESL teacher and a freelance  writer who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Her life principle is “Always do more than you can”. You can reach Rachel at Facebook.


Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Newest Thoughts on Online Education

26728533_sAs online education grew by leaps and bounds, leaders of higher education realized that the best way to harness this new mode of instruction was to study its effects and, based on that, devise strategies for the future. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, did exactly that in April 2013 in founding the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education. Based on the findings of this task force, the MIT Online Education Policy Intiative was formed.

Last month, the MIT Online Education Policy Initiative published its final report, “Online Education: A Catayst for Higher Education Reforms” by Karen Wilcox, Sanjay Sarma, and Philip H. Lippe. Highlights of the report include:

  • Educational advancements which effect online education
  • Research and technology which effect online education
  • Collaborations between fields of study which have had a positive effect in online education
  • Recommendations
    • “Increase Interdisciplinary Collaboration” (Wilcox 23)
    • “Promote Online as an Important Facilitator in Higher Education” (Wilcox 24)
    • “Support the Expanded Profession of the Learning Engineer” (Wilcox 25)
    • “Foster Institutional and Education Change in Higher Education to Implement these Reforms” (Wilcox 27)

Click here to read the report in full and learn about what online education could hold for the future.

Source: About the Online Education Policy Initiative

Main Steps Toward “Like a Boss” Research for e-Learning Students

21276612_sThe following is a guest post written by Lesley Vos, a private educator for high school students from Chicago and a passionate blogger. She writes on topics of education, college life, academic research and writing, etc. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

A standard feature of every college student’s life is the academic research. Does it play the same important role when it comes to online education?


No matter what your education is, you won’t be able to avoid research projects. You will need to find the information anyway, choose the best ways to find it, know how to evaluate and manage this info, and decide whether to use it for your projects or not.

According to statistics, e-Learning becomes more and more popular among students both in the USA and the world in general:

  • About $56 billion had been spent on e-Learning industry in 2014;
  • About 46% of college students take at least one online course;
  • 90% less energy is consumed by e-Learning, what makes it Eco-friendly;
  • 72% of companies state that e-Learning helps their employees keep up-to-date with all changes within their industry;
  • Many educators call e-Learning one of 48 most perspective ideas to improve the US education system.

When it comes to academic research for e-Learning students, they must know where to search efficiently and make decisions regarding the quality of information; learners need to know how to search and who has rights to the information they are going to use for their research.

Research skills are key, and here you’ll find out how to build them quickly and effectively. To use some good guide to online research would be a good practice, too.

Steps to follow for better research

They will help you find and organize the information you need for academic research.

  • Always have a research question in mind, and work toward an answer to this particular question.
  • Schedule your work. For example, promise to accomplish something by a specific date (to find 20 resources, to finish the first chapter, etc.).
  • Ask for help. Online communities, social media groups, libraries – they all welcome your questions and exist to help you with research. Don’t be afraid of asking: their members may help you find good resources for your research, answer some exact questions, make some points for you to use in your work, etc.
  • Always pay attention to dates. Yes, sometimes it’s ok to use older material but it may also happen that your data isn’t up to date; it all depends on your topic: some fields are constantly updating, and you should be very careful while choosing the publications to refer.
  • Learn how to use Google and Wikipedia Most e-Learning students consider these two resources the best and most informative ones to use for research. Yes, it’s true; but make sure you know and use ALL tricks they provide for your better research.
  • Avoid citing Wikipedia. This online resource is a great place to start your research and find more links to explore. Wikipedia will give you a good overview of your subject and help you gather many sources for its better and deeper research. But do not consider this online encyclopedia your #1 resource to rely on.
  • One piece at a time. Do not try to cover all questions at once: outline the things you need to understand and cover in your work, deal with each piece separately, and find the connection between them when you write a draft.
  • Keep a pen and a notebook with you. Yes, you are an e-Learning student and you do all research online; but ideas and sudden revelations may hit you anytime – at the supermarket, in bed, in parks while walking… Write them down and transfer them into your research as soon as you can.
  • Don’t forget about bibliographies. When you check some article, essay, or academic book on your topic there will always be the list of hundreds of sources you can mine and use if they are relevant to your research.
  • Don’t believe the first source you see online. We all know the Internet is full of wrong facts and lie, especially when it comes to quotes. If you are going to use some quote or fact in your research, make sure it’s relevant and tied to its source.

Where to find the right data for your research

The Internet is a very good research library to use for your e-Learning projects; it provides a wealth of useful info to write a great research paper. As well as any other library, it has both good and bad “books” to read; so, if you do not want to get lost in this informative ocean – save this list of good quality online resources to use and find data for your research.

  1. A Research Guide – the website where you’ll find straightforward information regarding research papers: read the instructions on how to do different types of research, check links on latest updates to style guides, learn how to write a bibliography and format your papers right, etc.
  1. Project Muse – the website for those students who work on humanities research. Here you’ll find a big collection of scientific journals and e-book from scholarly societies and universities. Choose your topic or keyword to start a search.
  1. Digital History – the website that provides access to historical documents, newspapers, court documents and publications related to American history. If your research has something in common with this topic, Digital History is your #1 resource to keep in mind.
  1. Questia – the largest collection of periodicals, books, and magazines. It also provides tools for citations, bookmarking, and highlighting; you’ll find many scholarly and non-fiction texts there.
  1. Digital Librarian – the website that provides links to the best online bibliographies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, journals, libraries, etc. All of them are placed in alphabetical order, so it’s easy to navigate and find necessary information for your research.
  1. Internet Public Library – the website that helps you find good resources for your research on different subjects. Search by keywords to find the information or click the field to learn the latest data from the niche.
  1. Academic Index – the search engine that was created for college students in particular. Teachers and librarians selected the websites for this index, and here you’ll find research guides for many topics, including health, criminal justice, history, and more.
  1. World Cat – the website where you’ll find items from more than 10,000 libraries. Articles, books, CDs, and DVDs are available here, and you can use this resource to find your closest library.
  1. Microsoft Academic Search – the website offers more than 30 million publications on different topics. Plus, you’ll find graphics, maps, trends, and paths to find out how different authors are connected.

Online education has its nuances and pitfalls, but it doesn’t free us from academic research. Online research is one of must-have skills for every student today: it’s a key toward your efficient information search, understanding and use; your knowledge and grades will depend on it, too.

Learn the ropes of online research – and you’ll never face this problem again.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

How to Start Curating Content

Stack of bindersContent curation is a way of collecting online resources in an organized manner and then effectively sharing them with a chosen audience.

The amount of valuable information online can at times seem overwhelming. Curate those materials to best take advantage of everything that the internet has to offer. This technique allows professors to strategically keep track of all interesting digital discoveries and easily retrieve them to use as course material.

Fortunately, there are many free, easy-to-use tools available to facilitate the process.

Here are six great tools to help you organize your online classroom:

Bundlr – create bundles of online resources which can be shared and embedded on websites.

Delicious – build a personal search engine composed of saved links.

Diigo – store information in a personal library with the opportunity to annotate and collaborate.

Evernote – gather resources with Web Clipper, share and access on any computer or mobile device.

Pinterest – pin pictures, articles, and videos onto virtual bulletin boards. To learn more, click here.

TheHubEdu – organize information on “shelves” to share with others.

Which tool works best for you?

Making the Leap: 7 Tips for New Online Learners

28897238_s - Second Copy CroppedWill this semester be your first time taking an online course? While a syllabus should outline the technicalities and course navigation, the mental leap from traditional instruction to a virtual classroom can be daunting. Here are 7 suggestions to make the transition easier.

  1. Recognize that e-learning is different type of learning experience. Don’t compare it to a traditional course. Although it may seem strange, give the virtual learning methods a chance and explore a new pedagogical arena.
  1. Learn how you like. Enrich your learning experience by finding supplementary resources which you enjoy using. They could be familiar resources, like powerpoints and informative videos, or perhaps new tools like prezi or TED Talks.
  1. Share what you find with your classmates. If you liked it, chances are that they will too. You can create a larger and more united environment for your classmate community.
  1. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. Don’t submit reading responses only in order to make the grade. Choose to make the most of the experience and continually appreciate learning new things.
  1. Team up with another first time e-learner. Whether or not you are taking the same course, it is a good idea to have a friend who can jointly relate to your position.
  1. Find a mentor who had a positive online learning experience. Look around – it is likely that a neighbor or a fellow student made this leap a little while ago. Ask for practical advice and do not scoff at comforting reassurance.
  1. Have fun! – Learning is great.

What helped you make the transition from a traditional student to an e-learner?

49 Ideas for Online Learning Activities

Online Teaching Activity Index

Online learning does not have to be limited to video lectures, quizzes, and written assignments. With a little out-of-the box thinking, professors can construct activities that stimulate students’ minds and keep them interested.

For a resource of ideas for online educational activities, check out the Online Teaching Activity Index from the Illinois Online Network.

The website suggests 49 activities that can be used in either online or hybrid courses, including some creative activities such as Internet Scavenger Hunt, Concept Mapping, Fishbowl, and Socratic Dialogue.

Each activity includes a description, examples, appropriate content categories, goals & objectives, prerequisites, materials and resources, lesson procedures, and more.

Tell us about your experiences with online teaching: What activities do you use in your online courses?

*The Online Teaching Activity Index logo is the sole and exclusive property of the Illinois Online Network.

Infographics in Science Education

When teaching a complex scientific concept, process, or mechanism, consider using an infographic.

An infographic is an image containing visual representations of statistics, data, maps, or other information. Infographics are often easier to understand than reading long paragraphs of text.

Infographics can be used to teach anything from the Kreb’s cycle, to the components of the solar system, to the process of metabolism.

Check out some of these science-related educational infographics below, search for them on visual.ly, or create your own.

DNA Presented (added to Visually by rmmojado)

DNA Presented

Melting and Boiling Points of the Elements (added to Visually by jonathanorjack)

Melting and Boiling Points of the Elements

Abundance of Elements (added to Visually by jonathanorjack)

Abundance of Elements

The Scale of the Universe (added to Visually by SeeingStructure)

The Scale of The Universe 2