Finals week is almost over! Congratulations on making it through another semester (students and professors!).

Enjoy your much-deserved break, but don’t let your brain atrophy and résumé stagnate. Cruising Tumblr and Facebook can only get you so far – there are plenty of ways to improve your research skills and stimulate your critical thinking skills while browsing online. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Lynda.com

lynda

Access this learning website through your myAU portal, under the “Technology” tab. AU has paid the subscription for this fee-based service, so it’s completely free to members of the AU community. You can access thousands of videos covering hundreds of software programs. The videos are professional quality and take you step-by-step through either basic or advanced procedures in programs from Picasa to Python. By the time you complete a course, you’ll have a new resume bullet.

2. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT

From the project’s own description: “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” – Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering. You can access the full course materials that MIT students pay big buck to take, totally free. Most classes include video lectures, syllabus, reading list, and lecture notes. Either fill in a gap in your knowledge or just pursue curiosity.

3. TED 

TED

Many of you will have already heard of this site, for good reason. The “Technology, Entertainment, Design” series of conferences invites well-known and dynamic researchers to “give the presentation of their lifetimes”. The result is often a 20-minute mind-blowing video. It’s hard to go wrong picking a TED talk. There’s also a new portion of the site called TED-Ed, which are mini-lessons prepared by educators and animated by professional animators, complete with quizzes and further resources. It’s a great way to learn without feeling like you’re learning.

4. Information is Beautiful

info

This is David McCandless’s website, filled with great examples of creative ways to display data. In our world of academic research, we see far too many ineffective and boring graphs and charts. One way to make your paper stand out is with an eye-catching and intuitive data visualization. In addition to “Information is Beautiful,” check out these tutorials from UC Berkeley’s journalism school to learn more about creating unique and effective designs.

Have a great Winter Break, and stay posted for information about CTRL’s workshops and research seminars for Spring 2013

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