Open Education Tools for Mentoring and Learning

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from 11:00 – 11:45am in B204


The internet is full of information. Some of this information was made to help people learn. A subset exists under open licenses. These open educational resources (OERs) are used all over the world for learning and teaching. This talk will cover what some of them are and explore ways they have been (and can be) used for mentors and self-learners--both as individuals and in peer-study groups.


There is a myriad of resources on the internet designed to help people learn. Some of these have open or free licenses. “How to Think Like A Computer Scientist: Python,” Allen Downey, Jeff Elkner, and Chris Meyer’s text on learning Python, is not only commonly used in classrooms, but it was also released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Flatworld Knowledge, a self-professed publisher of open textbooks, has a growing selection. maintains a list of free or open textbooks.
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are not limited to textbooks. OpenHatch missions and Khan Academy offer explanations and exercises. OpenCourseWares provide course materials. Stanford and MIT have both offered cost-free complete and interactive courses.
These are just some of the OERs that are available. While many of the people who use them do so as self-learners, they are also useful in peer-study and mentorship contexts.
This talk will be something of a tour of OERs, focusing on MIT OpenCourseWare, highlighting tools for mentors and opportunities for self-learners interested in coding, hacking, and computer science.

Speaking experience

I have never given this talk before. I have, however, given a talk entitled "Nerd Legends and Keyboard Cowboys: Ethnographic Approaches in Nonfiction," covering a summer research project on personalities and community interaction of FLOSS hackers in the Boston area. I also gave a lightning talk on the history of 4chan trolling. Prior to this, I presented at the 2009 Association for Asian Studies conference on the nature of philosophical and metalinguistic intuitions, comparing those of rural Mongolian nomads to their city dwelling counterparts. I have no slides, but there is a video of me online making ice cream.