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The Internet is a gold mine of academic resources, many of which are free and impressively up-to-date. Millions of students have already tapped a number of scholastic websites to do research, supplement their lessons and even to rent online textbooks. Interest in offering free courses online has recently surged. Students and independent learners are not only taught web development subjects otherwise unavailable in most schools, they're also taught courses in liberal arts and science by professors from top universities.

If you're a student and don't want to miss out on great useful academic resources, here are some of the best online resources.

eTextbooks or digital textbooks

E-readers and other mobile reading devices are a godsend for readers and learners of all types. If you're a student, you can save yourself the burden of carrying heavy textbooks by purchasing eTextbooks. The majority of academic publishers have already made their books available in digital format. These books cost less than the printed versions so you're guaranteed savings. Students who choose to save even more prefer to rent online. It's a practical choice if you want to save as much as 80 percent off the retail book price. Due to rising demand and competition, eTextbook publishers offer flexible reading and purchasing options for students. You can, for instance, choose the length of time to rent the book or purchase it outright. As for reading, your choices are almost limitless: dedicated reading devices, multimedia tablets, web and mobile browsers, and mobile reading applications. Not only can you access your eTextbooks anywhere, many publishers also give students the option to read them offline. If there's one thing that distinguishes eTextbooks from printed textbooks, it's that they're interactive, often multimedia and not static. Digital publishers are introducing features that let students interact with their books for faster and better learning. Students are able to consult an inline dictionary, bookmark a page, highlight a selection, take notes in the margins and even do color-coded highlights. Textbook reading has never been this easy.

Student forums and educational networks

Interest-based groups offer students an opportunity to mingle with like-minded students. Studying Physics? There's an online group for that. Literary aficionados also stay current with literature through online forums. Think of any topic that interests you, whether it's broad or highly specialized, and chances are there's an online group already established for that.

Free online classes and digital courses

Learning online is cheap, flexible and fast. There's no doubt about it. They're free, you only need to invest time listening to recorded lectures and completing assignments. Many of these self-paced interactive courses can be completed in a matter of weeks and can even grant you certifications. Really. Trend-setting MIT is one institution to give independent learners immediate access to courses and official certifications upon completion. Make use of them to accelerate your study and beef up your resume.

Educational resources crowd the Internet. In addition to those mentioned above, you can subscribe to specialized blogs on learning and education. You can also make use of mobile learning apps that let you take down notes, send and save crucial documents, research on the go and a whole lot more. There's a new frontier of learning.

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