The Ultimate Open Courseware Toolset: 60+ Directories, Search Engines, and Web Tools

by admin on February 19, 2009

Open courseware has expanded to the extent that directories, lists, search engines, archives and Web tools are available free to anyone who chooses to learn through the Internet. The following list contains some individual tools, but on the whole, this list is filled with links to sites and pages that offer more links to even more resources. So, if you’re looking for an open source tool to create a video, go under “tools” below to find two links to sites filled with open source software resources.

All links under the categories below are listed in alphabetical order. This alphabetical method of organization also shows that we do not value open courseware project over another.


The following directories have done the work for you, discovering various open courseware projects from around the world or that are focused on one specific area of study. You can find books, video lectures, teaching tools and more, all labeled with the open courseware tag.

  1. 70+ Apps, Search Engines and Resources for Free Learning: You can find many open courseware projects through this directory, which lists search engines and directories, collections and more.
  2. 100 Free Open Courseware Classes About Open Source Everything : This list provides links to courses on Linux, Open Source philosophy, legal issues and more.
  3. 100+ Open Courseware Resources for Teachers: From educational approaches and theories to Open Courseware resource material, teachers can enjoy the offerings listed in this directory.
  4. 101 Killer Open Courseware Projects from Around the World: Ivy League and Beyond: This list of open courseware projects worldwide offered by colleges and universities. Course materials run the gamut from lesson plans to podcasts to video lectures.
  5. American Memory: This link takes you to the directory filled with eighteen collections within the Library of Congress. This free and open resource contains a great repository of primary and secondary source materials on American history and creativity.
  6. British Academy Portal: This is the British Academy’s directory of online resources in the humanities and social sciences. It is designed as an entry point to available resources for those working in higher education and research.
  7. Free Online Open Courseware Directory in Arts & Humanities: Find dozens of links for open courseware in the arts and humanities here, including design, English, game art, theology and writing.
  8. Free Open Courseware Directory: This list, categorized by subjects such as arts and humanities and health and medical, is offered by [email protected]
  9. iBerry: Based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states, “Everyone has the right to education,” iBerry offers their Academic Porthole and Open Courseware Directory categorized by main sites, subject and OER (Open Educational Resources).
  10. MIT Open Courseware: Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a world leader in offering open courseware. Their offerings are so extensive that they’ve offered this directory to help viewers find the information they need.
  11. Open Courseware Consortium: The hub for international open courseware members, this site will help you find course materials from across the globe.
  12. Open Learn Learning Space Directory: Categorized by topic, this directory provides a guideline for open courseware provided by the ever-expanding Open University.
  13. Open Video Project: The Open Video Project is managed at the Interaction Design Laboratory, at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This directory is building into one of the largest directories of educational videos online.
  14. OpenCourseWare School Rankings: This is a list of twenty-five colleges and universities ranked by the Open Courseware. But, it’s much more: you can click on the links and each link provides more links to the actual courseware or projects.
  15. OpenCourseware Swik: Keep an eye on this page as it’s constantly updated with material that is tagged with the “opencourseware.” You can find many new open courseware resources through this page.
  16. Self Made Scholar: This is a list of all the Open Courseware projects produced by universities and colleges.
  17. Stingy Scholar’s University Podcasts, Webcasts and OCWs: This is a cool way to find open courseware — through a map. Just find a source in the list at left, and the map will zoom in on the resource. The resource itself will have links that will take you directly to corresponding Web sites.
  18. The Academic Blog Portal: This is the main portal page for the academic blogs wiki, a kind of “Invisible College” that is supposed to help make the college more visible. This categorized list provides many links to academic blogs that expound on topics from the arts to social sciences and more.
  19. The Bard’s Song: The Bard’s Song serves as a directory of information on cinema and filmmaking, literature, various forms of music, performance arts such as theater and dance, and visual arts, including photography and drawing.
  20. World Lecture Hall: This is your entry point to free online course materials from around the world. Find a course, browse by area, conduct advanced searches and more.

Search Engines and Archives

Search engines provide a means to find open courseware easily. Archives, like search engines, provide easy access to materials you may need. Both types of search tools are listed below.

  1. Archive Grid: Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid. Researchers using ArchiveGrid can learn about the many items in each of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, and order copies.
  2. Archives Made Easy: Find archives and search materials from all over the globe. Start in Australia and end up in Vietnam if you choose, with stops in Ireland, Mongolia and Singapore along the way. Please note that only archives that have been reviewed will appear on this site.
  3. Directory of Open Access Journals : This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. They have over 1369 journals searchable at article level through the search engine or by categorized topic links.
  4. Fathom Archive: This archive, provided by Columbia University, offers access to the complete range of free content developed for Fathom by its member institutions. Columbia encourages you to browse this archive of online learning resources, including lectures, articles, interviews, exhibits and free seminars.
  5. Google Scholar: Search for Web information, images, video, news and more through this popular search engine. The difference is that this particular engine is designed for research and scholars.
  6. INFOmine: Search through categories such as business and economics, government information, maps and GIS and more with this search engine. This site is rapidly gaining pace is a comprehensive scholarly Internet resource for collections.
  7. Internet Archive: The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, continuously adds to their digital library. You’ll discover Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.
  8. Internet TV Search Engine : Looking for documentaries? Want to find online lectures? Try this search engine, a product of WebTVGuide.
  9. Intute: Intute is a free online service providing access to the very best web resources for education and research. All material is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists to create the Intute database.
  10. Irish Resources in the Humanities: Although this site began as a directory, it is growing into an archival search machine. Internet sites are chosen for their information, categorized and listed. But, now you also can use an advanced search feature to discover information.
  11. Librarian’s Internet Index: Categorized by topic, this search engine will help you to find hand-picked sites appropriate for scholarly research. Each topic is defined by subcategories to help you refine your searches.
  12. Open Courseware Finder: This search engine belongs to the Open Courseware Consortium, and it provides an easy way to discover the Open Courseware materials you need.
  13. Repositories of Primary Sources: Use this listing of over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar.
  14. UK Data Archive: This search engine is an internationally-renowned repository of expertise in data acquisition, preservation, dissemination and promotion. It serves as a “curator” of the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK.
  15. Voice of the Shuttle: Started in 1994 as a suite of static Web pages, VoS has now been rebuilt as a database that serves content dynamically on the Web. Users gain greater flexibility in viewing and searching now through categories and subcategories detailed in outline format.
  16. World Public Library: This site provides a full text search of 75,000+ HTML eBooks. Stay tuned, as each year the World Public Library nearly doubles its entire digital holdings.

Web Tools

Open courseware leads to eLearning, which in turn leads to the need for tools that are open source or free to use. The follow list, which by no means taps the depth of online offerings, provides a broad range of Web tools that can help teachers, parents and students of any age. Find teaching hubs, free books and more below.

  1. BBC Learning: Although this tool is based upon a corporate environment, it is open, useful and available worldwide. It is included, as the advice and information available here is useful for parents, teachers and students. And, it’s free.
  2. Curriki: Curriki is a community of educators, learners and committed education experts who are working together to create quality materials that will benefit teachers and students around the world. Help support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them.
  3. Dimdim: Do you need a platform for videoconferencing, live presentations, whiteboards and Web pages? Try Dimdim, a tool that helps you to share voice and video over the Internet without a download.
  4. Docebo: Docebo is an Open Source e-Learning platform (LMS and LCMS) used in corporate and higher education markets. The Platform supports 18 languages and can support different didactic models as well.
  5. e-Learning Centre: Based in the UK, the e-Learning Centre is a free information resource for learning and development professionals and academics and staff developers.
  6. e-Learning Guru: eLearners will have a ball with this site, as it approaches every aspect of eLearning from an open source aspect. Learn news about free Web conferencing services, video phones for virtual test proctoring and more expert analysis, emerging trends and free information.
  7. Edubuntu: Edubuntu’s objective is to create an integrated and usable experience for educational users by enhancing Ubuntu with educational applications, tools, content, and themes.
  8. elearnspace: This site belongs to George Siemens, Founder and President of Complexive Systems Inc., a learning lab focused on assisting organizations develop integrated learning structures to meet the needs of global strategy execution. It has grown over the past year, and it is a great tool for anyone who wants to learn about eLearning.
  9. Global Network Academy: This is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose purpose is the research and development of open source tools that promote distance learning and online communities.
  10. Merlot: Find peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials. Share advice and expertise about education with expert colleagues and be recognized for your contributions to quality education.
  11. Moodle: Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.
  12. OER Commons: OER content is made free to use or share, and in some cases, to change and share again, made possible through licensing, so that both teachers and learners can share what they know. Browse and search OER Commons to find curriculum, and tag, rate, and review it for others.
  13. Open Book Project: The Open Book Project is aimed at the educational community and seeks to encourage and coordinate collaboration among students and teachers for the development of high quality, freely distributable textbooks and educational materials on a wide range of topics.
  14. Open Source Education Foundation: The Open Source Education Foundation’s purpose to enhance k-12 education through the use of technologies and concepts derived from The Open Source and Free Software movement. They recently gained a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status.
  15. Open Source Living: a community-driven dynamic archive of Open Source software spanning all major platforms. The archive is the backbone of this site, but you can join a community filled with OSS enthusiasts and use the publication outlet as well.
  16. Open-Site: This is a free, trusted online encyclopedia that is edited by volunteer editors. The project is growing, with categories that range from the arts to sports.
  17. Osalt: Open source education thrives on open source software. Use this tool to find open source alternatives to your favorite commercial products. Browse through software categories and compare pros and cons of both commercial products as well as open source software.
  18. Project Gutenberg: No list of Open Courseware tools would be complete without mention of the Project Gutenberg. You’ll find over 27,000 free books in this online library, and a grand total of oer 100,000 titles available.
  19. SchoolForge: SchoolForge’s mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for education.
  20. SparkNotes: Direct your young scholars and college students to this site, where they can gain access to study notes on topics from literature to poetry. While this site is no substitute for reading a book, users gain insight to their readings through these supplements.
  21. The National Center for Open Source and Education: NCOSE exists to champion the use of Free and Open Source Software in K-12 schools, to empower teachers to be heroes to their students through the use of Open Technologies and to be the vital bridge between the United States and international Open Source and Education efforts.
  22. WikiBooks: WikiBooks is a Wikimedia community for creating a free library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. WikiBooks began on July 10, 2003; since then, WikiBooks has grown to include over 34,339 pages in a multitude of textbooks created by volunteers.
  23. Wikiversity : This is another Wikimedia project devoted to learning resources, learning projects and research for use in all levels, types and styles of education from preschool to university.

Did you enjoy this article?


Previous Post: Beginnings

Next Post: Top 25 Off-Color College Rankings: Sex, Drugs and Rock N Roll