Month: April 2014

Free online college and university courses

In 2007 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was first time created at Utah State University. MOOCs are like college courses but are available to anyone anywhere for free. There will not be a college credit but a certificate of completion after the whole coursework is completed. The courses, that are taught by some of the top professors in those fields, cover different subjects and are in different languages.

An educated population is better than an ignorant one. Even if no official credit is earned for these courses, it’s wonderful that they’re available. Knowledge itself is a reward.

Best schools, best courses!

Coursera is one of the most well-known of the free online education facilitator. They have courses in many languages (english, chinese, french, spanish, russian, portuguese, turkish, ukrainian, german, hebrew, arabic, greek, italian and japanese), and have 17,000,000 enrollments form students from 190 countries. Coursera has over 600 courses in almost 30 categories.

EdX is a further non-profit online education facilitator created by founding partners MIT and Harvard and is based in Camridge, Massachusetts. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more.

Also MIT has its own open coursware! MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT’s subjects available on the Web, free of charge. With more than 2,200 courses available, OCW is delivering on the promise of open sharing of knowledge.

In Europe we have the Germany-based Iversity that offers free courses in both English and German. Here is an overview on how it works!

If you are particularly interested about languages you can have give a look to Duolingo. There you will find courses in many languages totally free, with no ads and no gimmiks.

Codecademy offers free programming and coding interactive lessons. There you can learn how to code Javascript, HTML/CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby and API. I am now following few courses at Codecademy and I am really impressed about how much I learned in so little amount of time.

More interesting courses can be found at www.mooc-list.com

mooc

Mooc-list.com

This Wikipedia page has a fascinating list of educational video websites.

Did you get excited about the idea? Do you know of other universities sharing for free their knowledge? Please comment and share.

Thanks guys!

JIM O’NEILL: The Crisis In Ukraine Is Just A Symptom Of Something Much Worse

The Crisis In Ukraine Is Just A Symptom Of Something Much Worse

The crisis surrounding Ukraine shows that global governance is in a mess, but events there are merely a symptom of something larger.

Demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine

My visit to Washington for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank set me wondering whether western democracies are much guiltier than we are prepared to admit.

These meetings took place against the surreal background of the US Congress having failed to pass a bill allowing the IMF to reform in the way that was agreed back in 2010 – a strange decision, as the planned changes to the fund were led by the then-US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.

Those proposals were to increase the IMF’s lending capability as well as to boost the voting share and seats of the major so-called “emerging economic powers” at the expense of others, including Europe.

Without the additional firepower, it makes it more difficult for the fund to intervene in economic crises, including the one engulfing Ukraine.

It is more than ironic that many of the Congressional figures who are calling for aggressive actions towards Russia over the Ukraine crisis are the same ones blocking the reforms of the IMF.

Without foreign financial assistance and economic support, Ukraine’s downward spiral could accelerate, yet there seems to be little recognition of this link.

The stalled 2010 agreement is based around the status quo of the world that existed at the end of 2008 . In those five intervening years, the world economic balance has continued to shift.

China has seen its nominal GDP double since 2008, so any agreements based on the relative size and balance of trade prevailing then are already very much out of date.

It is bigger than the combined GDP of France, Germany and Italy, three European countries which also have an intransigent stance about more substantial global reform.

Even though Brazil and Russia have especially disappointed in the past couple of years, both are within the top 10 economies by size. Collectively, the Bric countries are now nearly as large as the US and already quite a bit larger than the eurozone.

While the other Bric countries probably don’t have much sympathy with Russia on the specifics of the Ukraine issue, they might have broader sympathy with the notion that emerging economies are not allowed a relevant voice in global affairs.

Such thoughts might serve to undermine the legitimacy of global organisations such as the IMF and World Bank, the G20 itself as it morphs into clubs within a club, and encourage the growth of their own club.

My impression, for example, is that there is renewed energy surrounding previous plans to form a Brics Development Bank, and later this year the funding and location for such a body seems set to be announced.

It is not impossible that providing capital for such a new bank might take precedence over additional funding for the IMF if the US Congress continues to stall on the reforms.

Europe is more than a mere bystander in these issues. Obviously as it relates to Ukraine, this crisis is on Europe’s immediate borders and some of the EU’s most eastern members – notably Poland and the other Baltic states – have particularly acute concerns about the crisis.

It continues to be quite tricky for European countries to pursue aggressive sanctions against Russia when many of their leading companies want to do more business there.

I recently attended a well-known economic and financial conference in Italy where delegates were asked about their plans to invest in a variety of economies. Russia came a close second to China in a list of about six emerging economies.

Just before that event, I read of a visit by the chief executive of German industrial giant Siemens to President Vladimir Putin, soon after the annexation of Crimea.

It is things like this that mean I cannot imagine either Germany or Italy leading a push to be really tough with Russia.

European companies need to export beyond their borders to grow their revenues and recover from the economic malaise of recent years.

Being tough and making sacrifices when your own economic challenges suggest the exact opposite requires a grander vision.

Does the EU really have a true vision for the Ukraine?

Does it really have a true vision for the shape of the world in which the EU is going to be positioned? It seems eager to export to China and Russia, but doesn’t really want to engage with them on an equal footing.

In March, I published a paper co-authored with Alessio Terzi for the Brussels-based Bruegel think-tank that discussed the rapidly changing nature of world trade, and the contrasting absence of global economic governance.

In it, we argued that it would be in Europe’s long-term interests to give up its national seats of representation within global organisations and to volunteer either EU or EMU combined seats.

By doing so, it would allow the space for the emerging powers, as well as making it more difficult for the US to not be more adaptable to change.

Indeed, it might even lead to questions as to why the IMF and World Bank would need to be located in the US unless they supported more reform themselves.

The integration of the largest emerging economies into the world economy has been one of the most important positive developments of the past 20 years.

It has allowed hundreds of millions of people in developing nations to escape poverty, as well as permitting western multinationals to develop markets that were unimaginable beforehand.

This continued integration is a very positive thing for the world economy, despite some ongoing adjustment costs for some that struggle to adapt and change.

However, it will not be able to continue unless we can also advance our organisations that are supposed to provide optimal global economic governance.

As I was leaving after my trip to Washington, I was led to believe that Congress might end up passing the IMF bill after November, seven long months away. I was told this to be encouraged, but I would hope for more.

Terence James “Jim” O’Neill

Jim O’Neill is former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and chairman of education charity Shine (www.shinetrust.org.uk)

This post originally appeared at The Telegraph. Copyright 2014.

National Library Week

National Library Week: Great Success!

The National Library Week (NLW) was first sponsored in the US by the National Library Association in 1958. I know and observe Saint Patrick’s Day and Halloween but I only discovered the NLW this year thanks to a post on Facebook. NLW occurance is a great week because everybody can have the possibility to full and free access to knowledge.

People Love Culture

In honor of the NLW 27,000+ books have been made available for free at ebrary.com. Fortunately the response by the users to the 27,000+ books made available was really high, people love culture especially when is free, but the site crashed and many sections of ebray.com still give the 404 error. An other example is the case of Oxford University Press that had a huge response to the promotion with record high site traffic, but unfortunately had also detected suspicious site traffic behavior so they ended the free access period two days early.

This is my first post in the Freebie category therefore I will stop blabla and here is a collection of 1,000,000+ images put into the public domain by The British Library.

Black and white pictures and illustrations from The British Library collection on Flickr free to reuse & remix:

Schermata 2014-04-19 a 12.45.05

Title: “Christmas Books. [With plates.]”, “Single Works. Christmas Books” Author: Dickens, Charles

A hero - Bal Bahadur [Brighton, England]. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood.

A hero – Bal Bahadur [Brighton, England]. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood.

Schermata 2014-04-19 a 11.31.47

Some N.C.O.s & men of the 57th Rifles [Estaires La Bassée Road, France]. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood.

Schermata 2014-04-19 a 12.50.39

Image taken from page 287 of ‘[The Great Condé and the period of the Fronde. A historical sketch.]’

Other free cultural and educational media can be found at www.openculture.com

If you find this article interesting please comment and share it with your friends. Otherwise tell me why you didn’t find it interesting and I will fix it 😉

By Flaviano Tarducci

Premio Pulitzer per scoop Snowden a Washington Post e Guardian Usa

Il premio Pulitzer, la più prestigiosa onoreficienza americana per il giornalismo, è stato assegnato ai quotidiani Washington Post e Guardian Usa per lo scoop delle rivelazioni sui programmi di sorveglianza americani di Edward Snowden. I due quotidiani hanno ricevuto il premio nella categoria “servizio pubblico”.

Premio Pulitzer gold medal

Premio Pulitzer gold medal

Il premio è stato assegnato ai due quotidiani per aver rivelato le informazioni della talpa Edward Snowden causando lo scandao delle divulgazioni sulla sorveglianza di massa del 2013 messo in atto dalla NSA (National Security Agency) americana.

La giuria ha stabilito che il premio venga assegnato al Washington Post e Guardian rispettivamente “per aver aiutato il pubblico a capire come queste rivelazioni si inseriscono nel contesto più ampio della sicurezza nazionale” e “per aver acceso un dibattito sul rapporto tra il governo e la cittadinanza su questioni di sicurezza e privacy”. L’assegnazione del prestigioso premio ha un significato politico perché è considerato da molti come uno “schiaffo” per Obama, infatti, questo scoop aveva avuto effetti poco gradevoli per le relazioni diplomtiche tra il governo americano, gli alleati europei ed altri paesi (basti pensare alla reazione del Brasile).

Fonti:

www.pulitzer.org

www.theguardian.com

www.washingtonpost.com

www.adginforma.it

Flaviano Tarducci
Pubblicato su Segnali di fumo – il magazine sui Diritti Umani www.sdfamnesty.org