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19 Websites That Will Make You Smarter in Every Way

19 Websites That Will Make You Smarter in Every Way

It’s almost unbelievable that in this day and age almost everyone is carrying around a library of knowledge, richer in resources than that of the Library of Alexandria. So it comes as no surprise that many want to utilise this resource, the internet, to become a better, smarter, productive being!

With this in mind, 19 of the top websites that will make you a smart person, in every way, has been compiled for you.

Academic

1. Smarterer

Want to test your writing ability? Prove your programming skills? Show people that you’re an Excel genius? Using Smarterer, you can take tests that provide you with a ‘qualification’ that you can show to employers when they need proof of your abilities!

2. UniversityWebinars

If you’re a fan of TED Talks, this is basically the TED Talks of the university world. With live webinars, and a huge library of past webinars and other educational videos, you cannot go wrong with this one.

3. Memrise

Flash cards, mixed with the addictive nature of gaming. This one is great for those looking to improve their overall general knowledge, while having fun. It’s available in a multitude of languages!

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    4. Project Gutenberg

    Don’t have the time or money to read a book, but still manage to sit and read on the internet for an obscene amount of time every day? No more excuses, Project Gutenberg is a catalog of books that you can read, online, right now, without cost. Get reading!

    5. Treehouse

    Treehouse basically has something for everyone. From web development to entrepreneurial tips, you’ll never come away from Treehouse without having learnt something. The only downside is that it costs at least $25 a month after the free trial, but investing in your education is never a bad idea.

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      6. OpenCulture

      A vast compendium of educational resources, on literally hundreds of different topics. From online courses to ebooks, you can find it all on OpenCulture. It’s one of the only websites you’ll ever need on education.

      7. Udacity

      Udacity is almost like the vocational learning place of the Internet. Real people teaching you real technical skills that are needed by real tech companies, with hands-on projects instead of boring old lectures. It’s hard for this one to fail to please.

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        8. Creative Live

        Classes streamed live. Some cost, others are free, but all are worth watching! These aren’t your average classes either, they’re real practical classes that will give you real usable skills. (There’s even a section for those looking to make more money!)

        9. Future Learn

        Future Learn is a site that offers free courses, in categories such as Law, Psychology, Teaching and many more. Partnered with some of the finest universities that the UK has to offer, you can be guaranteed that the content of the course will always be high quality.

        10. Coursera

        This is similar to Future Learn, though maybe with a bit more variety. With over 800 courses, and 10,000 current students, the statistics speak for themselves. The courses are always informative, and you get a real qualification at the end of them!

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          11. BBC Languages

          Arguably one of the most well-known and most supported platforms for learning a foreign language. With simple step-by-step interactive guides on learning another language, you’ll be speaking a new language in absolutely no time!

          12. University of Reddit

          You’ve probably heard of Reddit, but have you heard that Reddit created a new site where Redditers could teach each other? Pretty much any subject you can think of is covered here, because they’re all people just like you, teaching what they know!

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          Creativity

          13. Drawspace

          So you’ve always wanted to draw, but have never known where to start? Drawspace is here to rescue you, and get you expressing in the artistic format that you’ve always desired! Easy, comprehensive, guides that will get you drawing in seconds.

          drawsp

            DIY

            14. HackADay

            The name says it all. Every day a new hack is posted, with topics varying from things like fixing faulty Apple chargers to learning to build movie props – you can find it all here. Good for those who like to dabble in a multitude of hobbies!

            15. Do It Yourself

            Do It Yourself offers you a overwhelming amount of free DIY projects that you can do, in a simple and easy to read (and do) format. It’s time to become the handyman or -woman that you’ve always dreamed of being!

            16. Instructables

            Community driven step-by-step instructions on how to do pretty much anything. It’s impossible to have a look on Instructables without coming away having learnt how to do something new and useful. Check it out, it won’t disappoint.

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              Other

              17. UnplugTheTV

              A site that’ll give you a random video to watch, that’ll benefit your mind, instead of watching TV. A neat idea, and the execution seems to match. The content is not always guaranteed to be the best, but it’s always guaranteed to be better than mindless TV.

              Screenshot 2014-11-01 22.17.58

                18. AboveTopSecret

                Alternative news sources are a wealth of information, if you can get past the bias. Don’t limit yourself to seeing the worldly events from a single perspective, explore other options. Check out the sources, draw your own conclusions.

                19. Divine Society

                A site similar to AboveTopSecret, where a multitude of interesting articles from all over the web are posted. Everything from politics to religion is covered here, so it’s worth exploring a few of the articles they have to offer.

                So there you have it, 19 sites that will make you smarter in a variety of ways. If you have any that you think belong on this list, don’t be afraid to share them in the comments below!

                Featured photo credit: Teo Siew Yong via yourpresenceheals.com

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                Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

                5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

                Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

                This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

                Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

                Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

                Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

                To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

                What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

                Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

                LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

                On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

                Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

                5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

                There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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                With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

                Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

                Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

                1. Canvas Network

                Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

                Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

                Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

                To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

                Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

                Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

                Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

                The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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                In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

                Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

                2. Google Classroom

                This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

                Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

                Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

                With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

                Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

                Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

                3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

                If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

                Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

                It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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                Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

                Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

                Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

                4. Absorb

                This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

                Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

                Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

                The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

                Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

                The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

                Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

                Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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                5. Watershed Collaborative

                Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

                Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

                While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

                If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

                Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

                Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

                Honorable Mentions

                There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

                Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

                1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
                2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
                3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
                4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
                5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

                Conclusion

                There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

                Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

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