Stanford Online Writing Courses – The Spring Lineup

A quick fyi: This morning, Stanford Continuing Studies opened up registration for its spring lineup of online writing courses. Offered in partnership with the Stanford Creative Writing Program (one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country), these online courses give beginning and advanced writers, no matter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gifted writing instructors.

As you will see, there are a couple of courses offered in conjunction with The New York Times. The idea here is that you'll learn writing from a Stanford  writing instructor and then get your work reviewed by a Times book critic. Quite a perk, I must say.

For more information, click here, or separately check out the FAQ.

Caveat emptor: These classes are not free, and I helped set them up. So while I wholeheartedly believe in these courses, you can take my views with a grain of salt.

The Top Educational iPhone/iPad Apps





Since the release of the Apple's App Store, numerous sources have commented on the potential of educational apps. While these apps can't compete with the general popularity of gaming and leisure apps, there are a number of educational apps that mobile learners will find handy.

Top Free Apps

Open Culture: Our iPhone app gives you free mobile access to our educational media collections. Free audio books, university courses, foreign language lessons, science podcasts and much more. Per Apple rules, you will need to use wifi to download files.

American Museum of Natural History: Cosmic Discoveries: Take a ride with the Museum’s astrophysicists through our Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy, and beyond. Cosmic Discoveries is the first app to collect nearly a 1000 stunning astronomic images.

AskPhilosophers: AskPhilosophers puts real philosophers at the service of the general public. Have a big, lofty question that only a professional philosopher can tackle? They'll answer it on the web. And now on the iPhone. Check out this free app.

Council on Foreign Relations: The latest news analysis and commentary from the Council on Foreign Relations' website now available on the go for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Dictionary.com: Pretty simple, but handy. A good dictionary in your pocket.

FORA.TV: FORA is an excellent resource for smart video, featuring a steady stream of talks by today's thought leaders. To access their videos, you can download their free app, or point your mobile browser to m.fora.tv.

Fotopedia Heritage (iPhone - iPad): The new Fotopedia Heritage app for the iPhone and iPad lets the world come to you. Drawing on 20,000 curated photos taken by thousands of photographers from the Fotopedia community, this FREE app lets you visit (at least virtually) 890 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Kindle: This free app from Amazon lets you download books straight to your iPhone. The Kindle store contains many free classics books, but one of the easiest ways to access these books is to visit our collection of Free eBooks.

Louvre Museum: From the most important museum in Paris. According to Lifehacker, this "amazingly slick free app provides a virtual tour of its galleries and lets users check out the works of everyone from DaVinci to Michelangelo. The app gets you up close and personal with paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and even the French Crown Jewels."

Moon Globe: The free app puts the moon in your pocket with 3D graphics and touch screen navigation.

NASA: Discover a wealth of free great space travel information on this free app. The NASA App collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated information, images and videos from various online NASA sources in a convenient mobile package.

Poetry from the Poetry Foundation: From William Shakespeare to César Vallejo to Heather McHugh, the Poetry Foundation’s app turns your phone into a mobile poetry library:

Shakespeare: A nice app that puts the complete works of Shakespeare on your iPhone. As you'll see, the app comes with some handy functionality: you can search the text by keyword and also increase/decrease the fonts. Plus the app automatically remembers the last page you read.

Stanza: Another good app for downloading free e-books on the iPhone. Once you download the app, navigate to the "Online Catalog" section and then focus on the "Project Gutenberg" materials, which contains a long list of free classics.

StreetMuseum: This free iPhone app from the Museum of London overlays 400 years of historic images on today's city streets. Not available for download in the US. Pity.

TED: TEDTalks need no introduction. They're perhaps the most popular video lectures on the web, featuring talks by "the world's leading thinkers and doers." Now you can access these talks on your mobile phone too.

The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer: The ancient tradition and Western civilization go straight back to these two great books. Get them fore free.

USA Presidents: A flash card app that teaches you cool facts about the historical line of American presidents.

Yours, Vincent The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh - Provided by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, this application uses the artist's own letters to explore the life and times of the great painter. Includes videos and images of Van Gogh paintings.

Given the iPhone's capacity for audio and visual learning, it's no surprise that many of the most popular education apps focus on language learning. Free Spanish Tutor, the most downloaded free app, comes from the 24/7 Tutor series, and it's described as follows:

24/7 Tutor provides a set of the most common and useful words and phrases, organized by topic and category. An audio recording by a native speaker is available for each element. These are all integrated into a multi-function learning system, with measurement of progress tracked by quiz scores. A priority-filter mechanism is provided that allows you to optimize your efforts by focusing on those items most needing additional practice.

Another highly popular free language app is Japanese Phrases FREE. Like 24/7 Tutor, it also offers a paid version with additional content and features. There are also free applications available for French, Italian, Arabic, German, Korean, and Russian.

The second most popular free education app is Maps of the World, which allows users to browse 20 historical maps. While this won't be useful to someone who needs directions, it's a fun diversion for students of history and geography.

myHomework is an interesting student productivity app that allows students to keep track of their homework, classes, projects and tests while interacting with a visually appealing notebook-like design.

Other popular free apps cover the areas of SAT prep (Vocab Quiz SAT lite), spelling (Spel It Rite), and chemistry (The Chemical Touch lite).

The Unrepentant Terrorist? A Conversation with Bill Ayers

Bill Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and favorite whipping boy of the failed McCain campaign, gives a primer on the summer of ’68, discusses his favorite tattoo, and explains how the Chicago Police Department now loves him. The interview was conducted by a colleague of mine, Scott Hutchins, and you have to like the ironic way it begins:

...our interview [started] with a bomb scare. We sat down on the couch in a busy hotel lobby and a worried security guard approached. “Is that your bag?” she asked, pointing to a backpack and coat that were definitely not ours. “Nope,” we said. “Oh boy,” she said. She asked a few other people. The owner was not there. She radioed in. I considered the irony of being blown up while interviewing Bill Ayers. I figured it would at least get me a wikipedia entry.

Get the full interview over at The Rumpus.

Stream the New U2 Album

U2's next album, No Line on the Horizon, will be released internationally in early March. But not terribly surprisingly the album is already being circulated (not legally) on BitTorrent. And this has motivated the band to give fans free access to a streamed version on MySpace. To listen, just click here, scroll down to the music player, and toggle the "Feature Playlist" to No Line on the Horizon. You should be able to access the album in its entirety.

Dylan and Baez Sing Blowin’ in the Wind

Somewhere back in the 1970s, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez teamed up again to sing Blowin' in the Wind. Quite the duet, which we've added to our YouTube Favorites.  As mentioned a few weeks back, Dylan recently agreed to lend this classic song to a TV commercial for an ethical banking and retail group in the UK. You can now see this rare commercialization of a Dylan song over at the Guardian. Thanks Stephen for flagging that.

Hitchens & D’Souza Go Mano-a-Mano on Faith

I didn't think it would be possible, but it happened. I found my two least favorite intellectuals together on the same stage, and King's College in NYC made it all possible. So, to mark the occasion, I bring you Dinesh D'Souza, the academy's dressed up version of Ann Coulter, debating the ever surly Christopher Hitchens. The topic is faith and atheism. The debate is heated. And as you watch, you'll see the charming personalities come out. The video continues with Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, and Part 10. 90 minutes in total.

Welcome to the New Age of Upheaval

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has written extensively about the rise and fall of great empires and financial systems. Writing for Foreign Policy, Ferguson now warns that the spiraling economic crisis may soon pose serious threats to international peace and American security. As we saw during the late 1930s, economic crisis often sets the stage for full-blown political and possibly military crisis, and we're already seeing the risk of upheaval in nine countries, including Somalia, Russia, and Mexico. Ferguson closes by saying: "Economic volatility, plus ethnic disintegration, plus an empire in decline: That combination is about the most lethal in geopolitics. We now have all three. The age of upheaval starts now."

via The Daily Dish

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