Archive for the ‘Online Encyclopedia’ Category

Kahn Academy

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Why not teach the world?  That’s what Salman Khan is doing.

“What started out as Sal making a few algebra videos for his cousins has grown to over 2,100 videos . . . covering everything from arithmatic to personal finance to history and physics” delivers millions of simple 10 minute long lessons via the internet every day.  Every video was created by Salman Kahn using Smoothdraw, Camstudio and Youtube.   The lessons are simple and short and but very effective, based on the number of people viewing them online.

Below is a video about from PBS News Hour in 2010.

Knowledge Web

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

If you’re familiar with the work of the British scientist & historian James Burke, you’ll probably appreciate the Knowledge Web Project.  The website, which is managed by the James Burke Institute, is not completely functional yet but it already has some interesting features that many educators could appreciate.  Here’s the vision and a video overview of the project.

As evidenced by his previous TV endeavors, Connections and The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke offers a unique view of history and science.  He sees it as a complex, interconnected web instead of the usual linear progression.  Today, his description continues to become more and more relevant as we watch our world continue to shrink and become more interconnected. 

Try these Mystery Tours from the Knowledge Web when you get a chance: 

Cornflakes to Communism  |  Goethe to Margarine  |  Frederick the Great to the Bottle Cap


Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Would you like to know how to make pizza dough?  How about learning how to change the oil in a car or balance a checkbook?  There is an amazing list of things you can learn online. is a website that makes it easy to learn just about anything. is an online community that strives to give people a place where they can reasearch, discuss and share all kinds of knowledge with anyone.  According to their about page they have accumulated over 1.5 million articles and 150,000 videos that were created by experts and ordinary people.   If you have something to contribute you can join the eHow Community also.

Take some time out of your day and learn something new today at

The American Revolution

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

If you’d like to delve into some American history this Independence Day the Nation Park Service might have the website you’re looking for.  Pulling from their vast historical resources, this one website has a great collection of stories, timelines and biographies from the Revolutionary War.  Of course they also offer information about visiting the various parks throughout the nation that have connections to the Revolution.

Whether you are doing serious research or just looking to understand the history of the United States of America, the National Park Service has a website for you to check out! 

The American Revolution – Lighting Freedom’s Flame

Google Books

Monday, June 14th, 2010

In a way, Google Books is the original idea that launched Google.  According to Google’s own official history of the project, “In 1996, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were graduate computer science students working on a research project . . . Their goal was to make digital libraries work, and their big idea was . . . a ‘web crawler’ to index the books’ content and analyze the connections between them”

By 2004 the technical challenges of scanning millions of books without damaging them had been overcome and Google entered into a formal agreement to scan the public domain content of Oxford University’s Bodleian library.  Partnerships followed with Harvard, the University of Michigan, the New York Public Library, Oxford and Stanford.  Today the list of worldwide Library Partners continues to grow.

The Google Books Project uses special book scanners and optical character recognition to create a searchable digital library.  The project has drawn criticisms and controversies relating to copyright infringement, but a settlement is in the works.  Most recently Google has announced plans to open an online book store called Google Editions.

So search Google Books today and see what it has to offer!

More about the Google Books Project (from PBS NEWSHOUR, Dec. 2009):

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

im23As mentioned in the previous post, Wikipedia is an amazing online resource that suffers from lots of criticism, especially from the academic community.  A recent development to address this problem has been which is a free online encyclopedia that is made up of approximately 5,500 Wikipedia articles which have been “carefully chosen, tidied up, and checked for vandalism and suitability.” 

The 2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection was compiled by volunteers from SOS Children’s Villages – the world’s lasrgest orphan charity which is based in the U.K..  Their edited version of the English version of Wikipedia is available online and as a free download that can be saved to a DVD.

Besides being carefully edited, is also a little more difficult to search.  Because it is designed to be a free download it doesn’t come with a search engine.  Students have to explore it using either the Title Word Index or the Subject Index.  But teachers who grew up using a card catalog at the libraryprobably won’t have much pity for students who find this to be difficult.


Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

im08Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit, was started by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001 with the goal of “collecting and summarizing all human knowledge in every major language.”  As of August 2007 the English version of Wikipedia was large enough that, if it was converted to actual encyclopedia books, it would have 1,250 volumes each containing 400 pages each (not including the images).  This may not be all of human knowledge but it could be an impressive start.

Wikipedia is not without flaws and critics.  Among the criticisms is that because it is written by anonymous volunteers there is no way to assure the validity of the entries.  There have also been incidents of vandalism to entries and downright inaccuracies.

Over the years Wikipedia’s editing policies have changed in response to these criticisms.   They’ve gone from allowing anyone to edit anonymously to requiring “authentication” to requiring that edits to certain articles be verified by an experienced volunteer.  There will probably continue to be changes to the Wikipedia Editing Policy.

Regardless of all the controversies, no one can dispute the amazing size of the online encyclopedia or how easy it is to use.  So give it a try today and see what you think.