Recently re-designed, C-SPAN Classroom is a free membership service that offers information and resources to assist educators, and specifically Civics and U.S. Government teachers, in their use of C-SPAN’s primary source: public affairs videos. C-SPAN Classroom offers current, relevant standards-based video clips organized under six major topics such as Principles of Government, U.S. Constitution, Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, Judicial Branch, and Political Participation. C-SPAN Classroom also offers other resources, such as pdf worksheets and links to well-selected related sources, designed to enhance the teaching of these subjects. Members of C-SPAN Classroom are educators. This includes elementary through high school teachers, college and university professors, home school educators and district level administrators. This site is part of the Cable in the Classroom network, aimed at fostering the use of cable content and technology to expand and enhance learning for children and youth nationwide. Dozens of clips are freely and easily retrievable, while thousands of hours of content-rich videos are available by visiting the C-SPAN corporate website.
Free resources for teaching Civics and U.S. Government
Center for Civic Education
Lessons program for U.S. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
The mission of the Center for Civic Education (Civiced), a non profit educational corporation, is aimed at promoting a responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries. As part of the program, “We the people: the Citizen and the Constitution”, offered by the Center for Civic Education in collaboration with the American Association of School Administrators, it provides lessons for Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The program offers lesson plans about the Constitution designed for 6 education levels, from kindergarten to grades 11 and 12. Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning techniques help develop intellectual and participatory skills while increasing students understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy. Each lesson includes discussion topics, exercises, notes for teachers, activities for students. The website includes also several papers and speeches related to political and democratic issues, which are freely downloadable usually in pdf format. Contents, lessons and resources are free and open to the general public, also providing frequent updates.
China Open Resource for Education
Educational resource sharing between Chinese and international universities
Formally a partner of MIT OpenCourseWare and a partecipating institution of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, the China Open Resource for Education (CORE) initiative has introduced a considerable amount of overseas educational resources into China. Founded jointly by the Hewlett Foundation and the International Engeering Technology Educational Foundation, CORE considers the development of China Quality OpenCourseWare as an opportunity to share Chinese educational resources with other International universities. Over 222 universities have been partecipating to the CORE project, with more than 1,100 course material translated into Chinese. The project’s main goal is to provide Chinese universities with free and easy access to global open educational resources. Currently students can access open courseware through CORE webpages and course listings, with highly accessible content formats. In the website a Video Course section – managed by a professional staff – is also available for chinese speaking users. The course listing is retrievable by clicking an icon on the left frame (CQOCW), which is quite difficult to locate, but any program material and related webpages can be easily accessed in a standard format. So far the site is lacking any search facility or navigational aid, which may improve its usability.
Concept Development in the Web Environment
Hyperpolitics is an online platform for the hypertextual framing and navigation of political science concepts. It has been developed by an international research team directed by Mauro Calise and Theodore J. Lowi, and published as a book by University of Chicago Press. Hyperpolitics allows for rapid access, through hypertextual links, to a wide range of full text references, thus stimulating and guiding the organization of knowledge. All definitions are constructed using the same analytical pattern, a matrix of twelve logically interrelated keywords. This results in a dynamic process of conceptual processing, combining the breadth of specialized sources with strict control of the logical steps. Construction of a definition is a stepwise process, allowing for better exposition – and discussion – of the various parts. Definitions share a common logical structure, which makes for easier comparison. As each matrix is developed using a common set of 100 keywords, Hyperpolitics grows into a systemic network of logical crossreferences: a hyperdictionary. Thanks to its user-friendly interface, Hyperpolitics can be used for scholarly research as well as for teaching purposes, in both the classroom and distance education. It is an easily exportable model for other disciplines in the Social Sciences domain. Hyperpolitics is open to any user both in a «read» and «write» mode.
A free and open publication of Mit Course Materials
Mit’s OpenCourseWare (Ocw) is a free educational resource developed as a joint initiative by the Mellon Foundation and Mit. Started in September 2004, it offers about 2000 courses provided by Mit faculty with the goals of evolving in a web-learning platform and extending the impact of Mit “opencourseware” concept. Courses are classified in 36 thematic areas, relating to the Mit Departments. Learning materials are also classified by undegraduate and graduate levels. This website offers 60 courses concerning Political Science. Usually, webcourses are structured through an introduction/course description, syllabus, calendar, readings, assignments, exams and course materials, freely downloadable from the website. Sometimes simulations are also available, mainly within hard sciences area. All courses are available also into the iTunesU platform and as RSS feeds. A selection of video or audio lectures is also available. OpenCourseWare materials are usually licensed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under a Creative Commons License. Recently MIT announced edX, a new learning collaboration with Harvard University.
Tools and resources dedicated to university-level distance learning
This website provides access to free educational resources provided by The Open University, a UK-based university dedicated to e-learning. Another companion website, LabSpace, allows users to freely download material for their remixing and reusing. The entire network material is released with a Creative Commons License and its software tools are released under the GNU GPL. Since 1969 The Open University has been a pioneer in making learning materials freely available through its successful partnership with the BBC, and The OpenLearn website, launched in October 2006 as a pilot project, offers today 600 free online courses. Aimed at making freely available to any user a number of interactive and social networking tools, this site features a collections of units including documents, exercises, multimedia presentations and other options specifically designed for distance learning. Topics range from Arts and History to Modern Languages, from Health and Lifestyle to Science and Nature. Enrollment in these courses is entirely open to the public, but a free registration allows users to share ideas and chat with others, use the tools in the LabSpace, download related educational resources and adapt them to their needs. With an impressive outlook and a high level of usability, OpenLearn provides a great e-learning environment.
The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement
A student-designed learning experience on ICT-based civic engagement
Located at the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement is devoted to developing new areas of citizen involvement in politics and social life through the creation of citizen resources and student-designed learning experiences. The main aim is to allow students from across the university to work together on original research, new educational programs, policy recommendations, and Web-based citizen resources for students, scholars, journalists and the public. The website offers classification and detailed annotations to a large sets of recods, concerning infos on the center’s projects and staff as well as publications and conference programs, with high updating frequency. It also gives access to a database of literature about how information and communication technologies are being used to solve social problems in developing countries. The website includes project reports, academic research, working papers, pre-prints, committee proceedings, scientific and technical documentation. Records are provided free of charge, searchable through sophisticated search engine and downloadable in their original formats. In addition some navigational facilities, such as site map, support item-location and immediate orientation.