Free Guide to E-Learning Best Practices and Online College Success

Cover image: Guide to        E-Learning Best Practices and Online College Success

Wondering what online education (e-learning) is all about… and if it’s a good choice for you? The good people at Affordable Colleges (AC) Online have created this free, well-documented, 22-page guide will help you answer these and lots more questions.

From the Guide’s Introduction (my bold added):

We interviewed experts in online learning at top universities, as well as at organizations dedicated to the advancement of online learning and to the promotion best practices. This guidebook is the result and it will help you:
* Better understand the concept of e-learning, including keys to success, critical mistakes to avoid, important concepts, and how-tos.
Understand how e-learning can be individualized, including options for students with disabilities, working adults, and K – 2 students.
Debunk many of the myths and misconceptions about online learning.”

As you can see from the Table of Contents (below), the Guide covers a lot of ground. And it does so concisely and authoritatively. This is a “must read” for anyone considering any online or e-learning experiences!

Table of Contents:

  • Types of Online Learning
  • Benefits of Online Learning
  • The Online Learning Experience
  • Who is Best Suited for Online Learning?
  • Choosing an Online Learning College or Program
  • Online Learning for Disabled Students
  • International Online Study
  • K-12 Online Learning
  • Online Learning Technology
  • Tips for Online Learning Success
  • Financial Aid for Online Learning
  • Additional Resources
  • Glossary of Terms

Click here to go to the E-Learning Best Practices and Online College Success ( )

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Smart Gardener Supercharges Your Organic Gardening! (Plus Our 2014 Gardening Guide)

Are you an organic gardening newbie? … A “green thumb” wannabe? Then Smart Gardener is for you! It provides a powerful, online dashboard to guide you through the process of setting up, nurturing and maintaining a customized, location-specific organic garden that is sized to meet your family’s needs. It’s loaded with powerful tools and references in the form of videos, worksheets, interactive layout guides and links to additional resources!  But instead of overwhelming you like a big, fat organic gardening book might, the online interface gently guides you through “just enough” information to meet your needs so you can get to work immediately and start growing!

Image: My "Dashboard" at the Smart Gardener website

(Above:  A couple of screenshots from the Smart Gardener dashboard.)

Specifically, the Smart Gardener website and personalized dashboard provides:

  • Interactive online tools, worksheets, planning tools and videos to help you brainstorm the layout and contents for your in-ground garden, raised bed garden, or on-deck garden container.
  • custom garden plan for your location/growing season & household requirements
  • Personalized help selecting plants and finding seeds
  • A unique garden layout based on sun orientation, etc.
  • Customized To-Do lists with weekly email, mobile reminders of what to do when
  • Links to deep details (more info on specific plants, organic gardening techniques, etc.)
  • An Interactive journal to document progress for record-keeping, year-to-year (You can also add notes, photos, etc.)
  • “Signature gardens” (i.e., pre-designed gardens that can serve as “templates” for quickly making your own garden) created by chefs, celebrities & Smart Gardeners

Check out the quick (3 min.) video tour above, then visit the Smart Gardener website yourself and start gardening! 


2014 Gardening Guide: Links to Reviews of More Great Free Resources to Help You Learn Gardening & Landscaping

Click here to learn more about Tower Gardens!

(Click here to learn more about Tower Gardens!)


Didn’t find what you’re looking for?  Check out our video tour to see how to find more:

The Why & How of Vegetarian Eating: A Self-Study Guide

Cover of Vegetarian Starter Kit from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

(Via Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

According to a growing body of research, as well as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a vegetarian diet can:

  • Prevent cancer
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Prevent and reverse diabetes
  • Reduce gallstones, kidney stones and osteoporosis
  • Reduce asthma symptoms *

* (See the full article, complete with a list of 38 supporting studies/references.)

Given this amazing list of health benefits, shouldn’t you at least consider becoming a vegetarian? In this post I’ve pulled together a bunch of links to articles, videos and other resources from respected sources to help you learn more and decide for yourself.Einstein-Quote

The Science Behind Vegetarian Eating

A major milestone in our understanding of food and nutrition — particularly the benefits of a non-meat, plant-based diet — was the publication of the groundbreaking “China Study.”  According to its authors this study examined the death rates and eating habits of 880 million [yep... that's 880 million!] Chinese citizens. How’s that for a large sample size! The quotes below (my bold added) are from the book:

[It was] the most comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle and disease ever done with humans in the history of bio-medical research. It was a massive undertaking jointly arranged through Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. The New York Times called it the ‘Grand Prix of Epidemiology.’… [Our key findings relevant to diet and disease were that]: people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.” –  T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell from The China Study 

This book represents a “deep dive” into the vast and expanding body of research supporting vegetarianism. If you want to immerse yourself in the details, get the book and settle in for a powerful, and possibly life-altering, read.  Click here to go to the Google Books listing to learn more about The China Study or click here to download a PDF.

Some Well-Researched Videos

The bad news: Some advocates of vegetarianism can appear a bit… well… flakey! They base their advocacy on emotional arguments and “new-agey” philosophical perspectives. The good news: There are many scientists and medical professionals who are doing solid, well-documented research that supports vegetarianism on the basis of proven health benefits. These free, no-nonsense videos provide good introductions to their work:

“Free” for Netflix subscribers:

  • Vegucated – “In this documentary, three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured with true tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture.”  - Netflix listing
  • Forks Over Knives Presents: The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue – “Join Rip Esselstyn, former firefighter and author of the national bestselling The Engine 2 Diet, as he guides the White and Wally families through an Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue. Watch Rip teach these families how to take control of their health.” - Netflix listing
  • Hungry for Change – “This documentary exposes secrets the diet, weight loss and food industries don’t want consumers to know about: deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping people from having the body and health they want.” - Netflix listing

 Some Webpages to Explore

Website image: Physicians-Committee-for-Responsible-Medicine

  • is FILLED with articles and videos that summarize (and footnote!) the latest research findings related to nutrition and health. (See also my first video listing above.)

Image: 50 Famous Vegetarians from

  • Think only weirdos are vegetarians? Check out this list of 50 Famous Vegetarians from, including athletes, entertainers, writers/artists, leaders/activists, scholars/inventors, and more. (Did you know Steve Jobs and Mike Tyson share this list with Einstein and Gandhi? Wow!)

Practical Tools & Advice for the Newbie Vegetarian 

Here are some useful tools and sources of information that can help you to get started “eating clean” the vegetarian way:

Image: The Vegetarian Starter Kit from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

The Vegetarian Starter Kit from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

A Few More Items for Your Consideration

  • – from Australia: Good reasons & recipes for vegetarianism, mixed with some good old fashioned “save the planet & protect the animals”

Click here to learn more about Tower Gardens!

(Click here to learn more about Tower Gardens!)

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Turn Any Ebook into an Audiobook with FBReader & Ivona Text to Speech (TTS)

This video shows how to set up and use the free apps FBReader & Ivona TTS engine to turn ANY ebook into an audiobook! You’ll learn how you can kick back and close your eyes, while your tablet or smartphone reads that ebook to you through your headphones or speakers. Which means you can “read” with your ears while bouncing around on a bus, driving to work, standing in line at the bank or supermarket or just hanging out in your favorite recliner. How cool is that?

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Winter Blues? “Spit on Your Hands & Get Busy!” Learn Something New!

Learn something new!! Create something new!In one of Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes, I came across this quote from Dale Carnegie’s How To Stop Worrying and Start Living:

“George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up when he said: ‘The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.’ So don’t bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking—and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth—and one of the best.”

In another of Brian’s Philosopher’s Notes, he shares this quote from Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

“In 1932, weighed down by the sorrows and agonies of his self-absorbed and aimless clients, an Australian psychiatrist named W. Béran Wolfe summed up his philosophy like this: ‘If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert.’ He was right. People who strive for something personally significant, whether it’s learning a new craft, changing careers, or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. Find a happy person, and you will find a project.”

So how about you? What “personally significant” goal have you set for yourself lately? And if you happen to be housebound by this brutal winter, why not take on the challenge of learning something new?

Follow the links below to find some amazing free learning opportunities. Then “Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth…” to drive away those winter blues!

GCF LearnFree.Org: Learn Life Skills, Job Skills & Computer Skills!

This video provides an overview of the Goodwill Community Foundation’s website. Our quick tour highlights a few of the great free resources at the site, including training on Google Docs, Pinterest, Windows 8, and much more.  

From the website:  

“ creates and provides quality, innovative online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life…. delivering over 750 different lessons to millions of people in over 200 countries and territories ABSOLUTELY FREE…”


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My 12 Favorite Posts from 2013

Image: Go to Best Free Training's YouTube Collection

New in 2013: YouTube Playlist “Video Tours: Great Free Training & Education Resources”

Below is a list of my 12 favorite posts from 2013. These were either 1) fun to research & write, or 2) particularly useful discoveries that I was eager to share. In particular, 2013 marks the introduction of my new YouTube Playlist “Video Tours: Great Free Training & Education Resources.” These tours gave me a chance to walk you through the coolest features of some of the best free training and education resources available. 

So… Check out my “best of the best” list below. Then tell me what you think! I look forward to your Comments (below).


Got to YouTube Playlist "Tech Tools & Tips"

BONUS! Got a new tablet or other tech toy? Check out my YouTube Playlist, Tech Tools & Tips for info on my favorite apps & tricks.  Enjoy!