It would appear that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has the dubious honours of being the first Australian university to have their own YouTube channel. In the past couple of months, there have been a number of reports of US universities setting up on YouTube. For example, this article from News.com on UC Berkeley’s channel:
YouTube is now an important teaching tool at UC Berkeley.
The school announced on Wednesday that it has begun posting entire course lectures on the Web’s No.1 video-sharing site.
Berkeley officials claimed in a statement that the university is the first to make full course lectures available on YouTube. The school said that over 300 hours of videotaped courses will be available at youtube.com/ucberkeley.
Berkeley said it will continue to expand the offering. The topics of study found on YouTube included chemistry, physics, biology and even a lecture on search-engine technology given in 2005 by Google cofounder Sergey Brin.
“UC Berkeley on YouTube will provide a public window into university life, academics, events and athletics, which will build on our rich tradition of open educational content for the larger community,” said Christina Maslach, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for undergraduate education in a statement.
Similarly excited press has greeted other US universities, this article on the University of Southern California’s channel (Via). However, the I think educational administrator and web 2.0 aficionado Greg Whitby notes probably wins the most excited prize for his take on the UNSW channel (Via):
While it’s a great marketing strategy, it recognises where today’s students are. Although the channel will broadcast some lecturers in an attempt to reach potential students, it captures the ubquitous nature and popularity of Web 2.0.
This is the democratisation of knowledge – no longer contained within lecture theatres or classrooms but shared. Learning becomes accessible, anywhere, anytime. Transportable, transparent, relevant and exciting.
The University of NSW is to be applauded but we still lag behind. iTunes has developed a store dedicated to education called University. It’s ‘the campus that never sleeps’ – allowing universities across the US to upload audio/video lectures, interviews, debates, presentations for students – any age, anywhere. And it’s free. It’s astounding and exciting to think that a cohort of students and teachers from a school western Sydney can watch a biology lecture from MIT.
The challenge for us is to open our K-12 classrooms to a new audience – to share knowledge as professionals and to showcase quality learning and teaching as we move from isolated classrooms to a connected global learning environment.
Readers of any of my blogs will know I’m also an advocate for integrating certain web 2.0 tools into learning and teaching. However, these announcements seem oddly familiar to me – it’s just like the press that came out as pretty much every university in the world embraced podcasting one after another, each pushing out press releases about embracing the future. However, what didn’t happen half as readily was the pedagogical discussion about how podcasting should or could be used in education. Nor, I have to say, are we seeing much interrogation of the use of online video via YouTube or other services. Let me be clear: there is certainly value in using YouTube in particular ways in education. However, as I argued about podcasting in the past, it’s probably more important to focus on working out new ways to engage students (such as having them create content for podcasting or to post on YouTube) rather than primarily just replicating the top-down structures of lecture delivery. (I don’t have a problem with recorded lectures, I should add, I just don’t think that’s all we should worry about.)
It’s also worth keeping in mind that YouTube is a two-way street as demonstrated by clips of teachers at their worst appearing on YouTube.