All entries for Wednesday 17 October 2007

October 17, 2007

University of Youtube

It’s interesting to see that some universities are creating a branded Youtube presence. Here’s the University of California at Berkeley Youtube site, for example. And here’s the University of Southern California. Each of these sites gets an institution-specific branded home page and the ability to search or browse just within the university’s content, rather than the whole Youtube corpus. Berkeley has around 200 videos, SoCal around 50 or so, with more for sub-divisions of the university such as its law school.

It’s an interesting idea. You can direct people to your own, specific Youtube site, or you can rely on your videos being found by general searches of the whole Youtube site. The bandwidth costs are swallowed by somebody else, and you get all the infrastructure for uploading, converting, commenting, etc. for free.

The challenge for a university considering whether to do this sort of thing, I guess, is what kind of content to publish. Mostly, Warwick has elected to publish videos made specifically for the web via our iCast project. But it’s possible in principle to imagine recording ordinary events such as lectures and publishing them. SoCal has done some of this; here, for example is a lecture on evidence from July 2007. It’s 82 minutes long, and I have to say I struggled to get to the end of it. Not because it’s a bad lecture – it’s interesting and engaging – but 82 minutes, for me at least, is a long time to be watching a web video.

By contrast, the video on the USC Youtube home page is only one minute long, was clearly made for the web, and is easy to watch. So USC are experimenting at both ends of the spectrum, I guess, and if nothing else, one imagines that they’ll get some interesting data about which of their videos turn out to be popular. Do people who aren’t taking an evidence class really want to watch evidence lectures? Time will tell.

(As a matter of interest, there are 28 videos on Youtube tagged “Warwick University”. My favourite is this one, Study and chill out at the same time? Cool!)

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