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The Best Free Online Educational Tools and Content

There’s no question that the World Wide Web has completely transformed the way we source and consume information. Innumerable websites exist that teach you everything from the mundane to the profound, all from the comfort of your home. But with so many sites and such abundant information, it can be difficult to identify the best resources.

Over the past decade, a range of quality free websites have emerged allowing web users to take a pit stop on the information superhighway and absorb some knowledge on almost any subject imaginable. Whether you’re brushing up on the basics or looking to expand your horizons, here are five online resources that are sure to educate and entertain you.

OpenCourseWare Consortium

Originally established by MIT, the OpenCourseWare consortium is a community of over 250 universities and associated organizations from around the world, dedicated to providing free and open education to the masses. On its website, users will find full course materials, including lecture notes, assignments, and exams, composed by prominent university professors. With over 13,000 free text, audio and video courses available from such prestigious universities as MIT, John Hopkins, University of Michigan, the OpenCourseWare Consortium is an immensely powerful and useful tool.

TED

Technology Entertainment and Design, more commonly known as TED, is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation. Operating under the motto “ideas worth spreading,” it provides free, thought provoking lectures from eminent figures in their respective fields, discussing a hugely diverse range of topics. From string theory to bakery, users are sure to find plenty of video lectures to pique their interest. TED’s ideas have proved so popular that it has grown into a worldwide movement, with independently organized “TEDx” conferences popping up across the globe.

Academic Earth

Similar to the OpenCourseWare Consortium, Academic Earth was founded with the goal of supplying free information from prominent learning institutions to people around the world. The organization’s website contains hundreds of full video courses on scores of academic subject like physics, psychology and medicine. While the selection of courses is slightly smaller than that of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, Academic Earth’s user interface and handy search tools make it extremely easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

iTunes U

Apple’s iTunes U is the perfect educational tool for individuals on the go. Accessible through the iTunes Store, this enormous database contains complete courses featuring audio, video and books, which can be uploaded straight to your phone or portable handheld device. A handy app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad makes it possible to access these resources for free anywhere and anytime.

Textbook Revolution

Those who learn best with a textbook in front of them can join the Textbook Revolution. This student-run site offers a sizeable database of free-to-access textbooks on every academic subject imaginable. Users can search for specific titles or browse by category, though the website offers limited resources on certain subjects.