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Monday, December 19, 2011

11 Places to Find Free eBooks for Yourself and Your Students

The Internet is full of ebooks. Much to the chagrin of textbook publishers, some teachers are now using ebooks instead of issuing textbooks to students. Others are building their own etextbooks. If you would like to find some free ebooks that you and your students can use take a look at the following resources.

Planet eBook is a free service where teachers and students can find classic literature titles available as free downloads. Planet eBook adds new titles at regular intervals. Subscribe to the Planet eBook blog or newsletter to keep track of the latest additions to the collection. For browsing purposes, Planet eBook offers previews of titles through the Issuu pdf publishing service. Using the previews students can get an overview of a title without committing to downloading the entire ebook.

Flat World Knowledge provides free textbooks created by experts in various academic fields. A quick look at the student section of Flat World Knowledge reveals that these textbooks are already being used in few dozen colleges across the United States. Learn more in the video below.



E-Books Directory contains more than 6000 titles. The E-Books Directory provides freely downloadable textbooks, documents, and lecture notes. You can search the directory by keyword or browse through hundreds of categories.

Free Book-s is a search engine that scans many collections of ebooks to find free content that matches your search. I gave Free Book-s a test drive using academic terms like "physics" and terms like "fly fishing" to see what kids of results would be generated. In both cases I found Free Book-s returned very relevant results.

Google Books hosts thousands of books that are in the public domain. Many of the public domain books can be viewed and downloaded in their entirety for free. To find public domain books go into the advanced search options and select the "public domain only" and "full text" options to find free full-length books.

Free Book-s is a search engine that scans many collections of ebooks to find free content that matches your search. I gave Free Book-s a test drive using academic terms like "physics" and terms like "fly fishing" to see what kids of results would be generated. In both cases I found Free Book-s returned very relevant results.

Sciyo is a free service that allows scientists to publish their works and connect with other authors. Works published on Sciyo are made available for free to visitors. Visitors can download works as PDFs. There are currently 273 free books on Sciyo. The category of books that is probably of most interest to readers of this blog is Technology and Education. In the future videos will also be available on Sciyo.

Neotake is a search engine for ebooks that offers a nice community option. Neotake provides the option to become a member (free registration) of a community that ranks and reviews ebooks. Registered members can also network with other readers.

Many Books is a service that has indexed more than 29,000 free ebooks that are available in a variety of formats for a variety of devices. The books that you will find through Many Books are works that are either in the public domain or have been licensed for free distribution. You can search Many Books by title, author, genre, or language.

The Open Library is a part of the Internet Archive. The Open Library is a collection of more than one million free ebook titles. The collection is cataloged by a community of volunteer online librarians. The ebooks in the Open Library can be read online, downloaded to your computer, read on Kindle and other ereader devices, and embedded into other sites. Some of the ebooks, like Treasure Island, can also be listened to through the Open Library.

The University of Adelaide in Australia has compiled a list of more than 100 classic titles that are available in electronic form. The list is arranged by author. Clicking on an author's name reveals biographical information and links to the author's work available in electronic form. Some of the authors that you will find in the list inlcude Yeats, Darwin, Voltaire, and Poe.

The Chronicles of Narnia - Free Downloads Available

Image Credit: Scott Spinella
I loved The Chronicles of Narnia when I was younger so I was excited to learn through Open Culture that Harper Collins has allowed Ancient Faith Radio to publish free audio recordings of Chrissi Hart reading the stories. You can listen to the recordings online or download them to your computer. I'm listening to the first two chapters of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe right now.

Applications for Education
If you use The Chronicles of Narnia in your classroom and are in need of quality audio recordings to support your students' reading, bookmark these recordings from Ancient Faith Radio.

108 Years of Flight - Document and Videos

Saturday marked the 108th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight. The National Archives marked the anniversary by publishing the iconic image of their plane in flight.

After looking at the picture and related materials on the National Archives website I jumped over to FedFlix where I found a four part video series about the Wright brothers. The video series was released by the Department of Defense in 1970. I've embedded the first video in the series below.

For younger students, Scholastic has a series of free lesson plans and other online resources for teaching about the history of flight. 

Animoto Launches a New iPad and iPhone App

In my email this morning I received the news that Animoto has released a new free app for creating videos on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. The app will allow you to do all of the things that you can do on the Animoto website to create a video. Plus you can take pictures and videos on your iOS device and import them directly to your Animoto project. Of course, as with any good creation app, you can share your videos from your device to your favorite social media outlets.

Applications for Education
I often refer to Animoto as a gateway to "real" video projects. Animoto makes it very easy for anyone to create a great-looking video. I've found that once that confidence is built, teachers and students are then willing to try more difficult video creation projects. If your school is using iPads but having trouble getting buy-in from some faculty members, have them give the Animoto app a try and see if those people then become more willing to try other apps.

Explore and Watch Polar Bears on Explore.org

It is frigid here in Maine (6F when I took my dog out last night) which might be why I found myself watching a bunch of short videos about Polar Bears last night on Explore.org. I've written about Explore.org and their lesson plans before so I won't rehash that post. I just want to point out that they continue to add great video footage like the Polar Bear footage that you can watch here. I've embedded one of the videos below.



Applications for Education
Polar Bears International has some lesson plans for teaching about climate change, ecotourism, and conservation. You will also find links to a slideshow on Polar Bears and nice PDF about Polar Bears that contains an educational game.

Life Inside North Korea

By now you've probably heard the news that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il died over the weekend. There are plenty of good news sources on the story, here's CNN's story, here's the BBC's story. CNN also has a biographical video about Kim Jong Il. But if you want to know more about what life is like inside North Korea, I have some resources that you can use in your classroom.

The BBC has a great set of fact sheets for every country in the world. Their Guide to North Korea is no exception to that pattern. Life Inside the North Korean Bubble is an article and fifteen minute video (viewing may be restricted in some areas) on daily life in North Korea.

Eight years ago Mike Wallace did a 60 Minutes story about life inside North Korea. You can see the video here or as embedded below.


CNN has a sixteen image captioned slideshow about life inside North Korea.

And here is a video of North Korea's military on parade.

North Korea's Military parade in Slow Motion from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Snag Films has a three part documentary on North Korea.

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