Web 2.0 Study & Research Tools
Web 2.0 Study & Research Tools That Can Help You!
Many new tools are available on the internet that can help you as a student, scholar, and researcher. Of particular value to distance learning students, these services can keep you organized and on schedule when the weight of multiple assignments and projects seems like it will bring you down!
Social bookmarking website services allow you to store, organize and share your browser bookmarks -- webpage addresses, or Universal Resource Locators (URLs). Social bookmarking services provide permanent storage on the web for your links to these resources, rather than storing them on your home computer. You can organize your links, create notes about them, and even share them with other subscribers to these services. The link-sharing/social function of these services allows you to see what other people engaged in your area of research across the globe are currently studying.
Some social bookmarking sites:
Delicious (owned by Yahoo)
Email services have been available on the internet for some time, and most students have email accounts through their schools. The storage space that comes with these accounts is sometimes overlooked. By emailing files and documents to your on-line email account and storing them in your account, you avoid losing data when portable storage devices (thumb drives, floppy discs, etc.) are misplaced, forgotten or damaged. Since your files are stored on-line, you can retrieve them from any location where you can access the internet, which is not possible when you store your files on your home computer. Notable free on-line email services are Gmail (Google) and Yahoo Mail.
Do you use the following types of computer programs?
- Word processing? (Word, Wordperfect, Microsoft Works)
- Spreadsheets? (Excel)
- Presentations? (Powerpoint, Keynote)
- Appointment Calendars? (Outlook, Lotus Notes)
Several on-line services (the ubiquitous web giant Google being the most notable) have developed on-line versions of these programs available to use for free. These tools are conferrable to the Microsoft Office Suite, with certain limitations, but their advantage is that they are free and they are available for use from anywhere you can access the internet. Another feature of these documents is that they can generally be shared with other users over the web for instant collaboration.
Google and Yahoo both have calendar applications which can be accessed on-line on which you can set appointments and schedules. These calendars can email you notifications and warnings about upcoming events such as test dates and due dates for class assignments. For the distance learning student in particular these on-line calendars can be a great help in keeping yourself on schedule and organized.
Some on-line application, email, and storage services:
- Google Mail (Gmail)
- Google Documents (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations)
Yahoo mail, calendar, notes, etc.
The expense of textbook costs in addition to high tuition fees can be a game-ender for some students. A new alternative to buying textbooks has emerged: textbook rentals. The following services allow students to rent their textbooks for a set period of time (a semester or a year) at a cost much lower than their original retail price. Safari Books, listed below, also offers the rental of electronic texts - to be read and studied on-line, specializing in technical and computing studies.
NOTE: The Lone Star College Libraries have 45,000 FREE electronic books immediately available through the NetLibrary service. NetLibrary access is also available through all the LSC-University Center partner university libraries at Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, and University of Houston Downtown.
An excellent article on textbook rentals
*NEW!* Beginning Fall 2010, Lone Star College's campus bookstores will offer on-line textbook rental.
- Rent online and pick up at the campus bookstore
- Highlighting and writing in rented books is allowed
- Financial aid is accepted as a form of payment
- Click for full information
Some on-line textbook rental services:
Safari (mostly technical and computing books)
There are many sources of regularly updated information on the web, such as:
- News websites
- Databases of journal articles
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are a means of collecting (or aggregating) new content from such various websites and displaying that new content on a single webpage called a "newsreader". Any regularly updated webpage which displays the RSS symbol, or has a link for "subscribing" allows this option.
To use RSS, open an account on one of the newsreader services available on the Web:
- My Yahoo
- As a part of any Yahoo account (which includes email, on-line calendar and other services), My Yahoo functions as an RSS newsreader
- A large list of available on-line RSS newsreaders
Once you have registered, within the newsreader there will be a function which allows you to subscribe to new "feeds" from the websites in which you are interested. Generally this simply involves entering the website's URL address into the newsreader's subscription component. Conversely, you can generally subscribe from the website in which you are interested by clicking on the RSS symbol (if present), or by clicking on a "subscribe" link on that page.
The RSS "symbol"
Once you have subscribed, every time you open your RSS newsreader page, all of the latest updates from your subscribed websites will appear right there on your newsreader page.
For the scholar, the particular value of RSS feeds is in their ability to deliver the latest new content from academic library databases on a particular topic defined by the scholars themselves. While this feature is not available in all academic library databases, most of the larger database providers (Ebsco, Wilson, Thomson-Reuters, etc.) have begun to include it in their database packages. With this feature, a topic search defined by the reader (the same type of search using subject, author, title, or keyword terms that one might use when researching a topic for a paper), can be set so that as new articles on your topic are added to the database, they will be delivered via your RSS newsreader to you. Keeping up to date on your area of study has never been easier with these powerful tools.