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Guiding Trend 29 April Apr 2020 0700 29 April 2020

Coronavirus: free access to online content and courses, 5 platforms to try out

This pandemic has forced the world’s main cultural centres to shut down. So how can we continue with our learning? Here are five platforms providing free access to online content and courses.

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In Italy and throughout the world, the closure of cultural centres, schools, universities and training colleges, museums and libraries has forced us to come up with new ways to learn and share knowledge as we try to limit the social and economic impact of coronavirus.

The web abounds with open source platforms and the websites of major cultural institutes who have decided to provide free access to their invaluable resources throughout the emergency. We have chosen five of them.

UNESCO world library

“We know many of you are home and the walls are closing in. So... get to know the World Digital Library: free access to thousands of books, documents & photos from all countries and cultures.” UNESCO tweeted this message on March 16 inviting us all to visit this vast World Digital Library, founded in early 2009 and now storing almost 20,000 items. Its rare books, photographs, sound recordings, films, images and interactive maps from through the ages (some items date back to 8000 BCE) come from 193 countries with content descriptions in seven languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Arabic). Items can be browsed by country and continent, historic period, type of item and topic. Content includes books and manuscripts from the world’s major libraries and museums such as the historical Alessandrina library in Rome, the US library of congress, Yale University Library or the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence, among many others.

This library is for anyone who enjoys discovering interesting and little-known facts about the history of mankind.

Coursera

Founded in 2012 by two computer science professors at Stanford University, Coursera is one of the largest e-learning platforms with more than 37,000 registered users and a network of 190 partners among the world’s top universities and industry educators. This US-based platform offers almost 3,000 university courses available in several languages – from Computer Science to Economics, from Engineering to Social Sciences, from Maths to Art – all delivered by such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Imperial College London, La Sapienza in Rome, the Bocconi and Polytechnic in Milan. Coursera is internationally recognized for its highly specialised training and development programs used by such household names as P&G, L’Oreal, Danone and Airbus. The catalogue of courses is designed to respond to the demands of a highly competitive labour market and ranges from Machine Leaning & Artificial Intelligence to Web Development, from Digital Transformation to Data Science for Business Analysts.

Some of the courses can be accessed free of charge and to support universities and students during the pandemic, the California-based company has launched Coursera for Campus giving access to 3,800 courses and specialisations up to September 30, 2020, and providing all the necessary logistic and technical support to minimise the impact of the crisis. Universities can apply to join the programme by completing an online form, while students can choose which courses to follow on the website coursera.org

A platform for students, universities, companies and their employees who want to just keep going.

Istituto Luce film archive

The historic archive of Italy’s Istituto Luce Cincecittà, one of the world’s largest audiovisual archives, has joined a campaign by Italy’s Ministry of Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism with the hashtag #IoRestoaCasa (#IStayatHome). It allows all those people who have been confined to their homes during the long weeks of quarantine to freely access thousands of hours of culture, entertainment and education on all Luce-Cinecittà’s websites.

This archive is a huge treasure trove encompassing every area of Italian culture – from art to sport, from politics to television, from cinema to history, from current affairs to traditions. More than 70,000 videos from the 1910s to our times, over 400,000 high-definition photographs, more than 5,000 hours of previously unreleased documentaries, newsreels, behind the scenes recordings from well-known films and insights into the history of the cinema and its maestros, as well as historic documents and illustrations.

There is also a daily programme of online events and presentations designed for various age groups, as well as the occasional opportunity to download videos, sound recordings and documents. One such example is Cinecittà shows off (Cincecittà si mostra) which tells the story and the skills behind Rome’s famed film studios - the ‘Fabbrica dei Sogni’ (the Dream Factory).

For anyone who wants to dive into the beauty of Italy’s cultural past and present.

edX

The edX e-learning platform was founded in May 2012 by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Harvard University. Like Coursera, it offers free online courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for both university students and companies.

Registering on the platform gives access to 2,500 courses delivered by 140 academic institutions and universities from around the world - like the Universities of Boston, Berkeley, Georgetown, the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia. There is a very rich offering of courses and by filtering your search, you can easily find the course you’d like to follow. You can search by availability, subject, level and language - there are courses in almost all the world’s main languages.

edX has recently opened up a section dedicated to the COVID-19 emergency to support companies, students and academic institutions. Its Remote Access Program and edX Online Campus are designed for those institutions who have signed up to allow their students to freely access courses from their own university, as well as content from other academic institutions, until June 30, 2020.

For companies of all sizes, edX For Business offers turnkey training courses delivered by leaders in their industries such as Microsoft and Amazon. All you need to do is to schedule a call with an edX team member on the website.

A good alternative to Coursera.

MiBACT

Italy’s Ministry of Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism (MiBACT) has set up the web page ‘La Cultura Non si Ferma’ (Culture Doesn’t Stop) where it has put together a programme of virtual events, encounters and media content, as well as contributions from actors, writers, archaeologists, and art critics. With cinemas, theatres, museums and book shops all closed, their offering is now available from home. Divided into 6 themes – Museums, Books, Cinema, Music, Education and Theatre – the contents are shared online by those Italian cultural institutes who have opted to join this campaign and allow people to continue to enjoy art and its rewards during lockdown. The webpage is regularly updated with a calendar of events displayed by topic and region of Italy.

For those who know what they like, especially when it comes to culture.

In these times, the web offers a vast amount of online content and courses catering to all needs and tastes. It’s just a case of looking.

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