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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Online Learning @ Your MCPL

Have you heard about all the online learning folks are doing these days? Want to join in, but don't know where to start?  Start at your library!

Do you want to learn more about technology? It doesn't matter if you're new to computers or an information technology expert, you can learn more with free MCPL resources. One of our most popular technology learning tools is Safari Books Online. It is a collection of e-books about many aspects of technology and business. Safari books are read in a browser, there's no downloading involved. Safari books are available 24/7, but there are a limited number of simultaneous users, so if you can't get in right away, you may have to wait a bit and try again.

Safari includes many electronic versions of books you may have seen on our shelves, such as the For Dummies series and the O'Reilly technology books. Some of these books are for the serious techie. Recent titles of this type include Managing Digital Certificates Across the Enterprise and Bash Pocket Reference. I don't even understand what the titles mean, but I bet those who do are thinking, "This is good stuff!"

If you're interested in technology, but not quite ready to administer your own server, Safari has books for you too. There are books about Microsoft Office software like Word and Excel. There are also books that focus on ways to use technology, rather than particular software.  For instance, I just ran across an introduction to blogging called The Elements of Blogging, and a more focused book titled Blogging for Photographers.

If you're a child, or child at tech, there are books for you too. They also run the gamut of sophistication, everything from Teach Your Kid to Code to more esoteric fare like Rapberry Pi For Kids for Dummies. What is Raspberry Pi? According to its Wikipedia entry, Raspberry Pi is a "...series of credit card–sized single-board computers...to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries." I don't know about you, but that explanation only sort of helped. When I was a kid, raspberry was for jams.

Safari has more than just technology books. There's a whole category devoted to personal and professional development. These books cover many business topics: time management, public speaking, investing, business writing, and more. The boldly titled Career Courage helps you decide what you want to be when you grow up. Once you start that great career, you may be giving lots of presentations.  Don't worry. How to Be a Brilliant Public Speaker will help make your presentations shine.

High schoolers, college students, and adult brushing up on their science and math will find an entire category of material in Safari devoted to those topics. There are introductory and advanced books on algebra, calculus, chemistry, physics, statistics, and more.

Learning new skills through online courses has become very popular. MCPL brings this interactive learning to you for free through Gale Courses, a collection online, high quality, free courses, and career training programs. Areas of study include accounting and finance, general business, computer and web technology, healthcare, legal matters, personal development, and writing.

Each course runs for six weeks. New sessions begin every month. Let's say you want to take the Spanish for Medical Professionals course. There are upcoming sessions that begin March 16, April 13 and May 18. This course contains 24 hours of instruction time. You have 6 weeks from the start date of the course to complete those hours of instruction. The course includes a discussion board where you can interact with other students. It also has some quizzes. When you complete the course with a passing score, you receive an award of completion.

Whether it's computer programming, public speaking or advanced statistics, MCPL has what you need to advance your career or take another step on your journey of lifelong learning.

Mark S

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