Working online is an essential skill for students heading to college after high school. The DiRT Directory — DiRT stands for Digital Research Tools — is a site where students can learn about tools available to help them do individual research as well as those collaborative projects efficiently and with minimal expense.
DiRT is a wiki with annotated list of software tools for research, writing, reading, collaborating, with special emphasis on open source (free) software.
To get a rough idea of the kinds of tools available in the DiRT Directory, it is useful to scan the category page, which lists purposes for which research tools may be needed. They include such things as data collection, image editing, and searching.
DiRT is geared toward those in the humanities and social sciences. All college-bound students should be acquainted with at least a couple tools in each category. Students heading toward office careers or entrepreneurial pursuits also need to explore these tools.
The DiRT Directory, unveiled in 2014, grew out of Bamboo Dirt which began in January, 2012, when the original Digital Research Tools Wiki ceased to add new content.
Note: The original version of this post appeared in the October 2009 Writing Points. It has been edited and updated to reflect changes in the intervening years.