March 12, 2008

YouTube API

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=yFlR6EEySg8

Interesting post on the YouTube blog – especially the bit:

The University of California, Berkeley is bringing free educational content to the world, enhancing their open source lecture capture and delivery system to publish videos automatically into YouTube.

There is a big move in the US to basically open up all sorts of material to the public – an Open Source Education to some extent.

I’m not sure whether the same appetite exists in Europe. Whilst we are very elearning friendly I am not clear of the extent to which the HE community is comfortable with, or even aware of, the idea that we should make public as much as possible of the University experience.


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  1. Steven Carpenter

    I think it’s an interesting counterpoint to repositories, which haven’t really reached the levels of ‘critical mass’ (content, users and audience) in my view. Acceptance of the dominance of sites like YouTube and levering them to get your content accessed by the widest possible audience seems quite pragmatic, but I think that’s just one gateway to your content, and it’s hard to structure appropriately – while there’s value in putting learning content on YouTube, there’s also value in providing a scaffolding around it.

    12 Mar 2008, 23:01

  2. Steven Sherlock

    It’s a really interesting situation. Personally i think it’s something that will appeal a lot more to countries in Asia, Africa, South American and other areas of the world who don’t have access to the same level of education as the US and Europe. More affluent countries tend to take education for granted and therefore may be less inclined to use such educational resources but in poorer countries, on the whole, there is a greater hunger for education/knowledge because it is not something that everyone has access to.
    It can also see this sort of thing contributing to an increase in absence from lectures in the UK. If the information is available on Youtube it negates the need for students to attend.

    22 Apr 2008, 11:48

  3. Brendan

    @Tom, I thought I’d comment as this entry seems to follow on nicely from several strands of the really enjoyable face-to-face conversation we were having earlier today – as regards what’s the purpose of a university / what exactly is the university experience / should universities be involved in social networks / universities as corporate entities etc.

    However I’ll just answer one question. Does this attitude exist in Europe? You bet it does – see OpenLearn from the OU for probably the highest profile UK example. The University of London has done the same for a full MA course in Open, Distance and Flexible Learning.

    I’ll also give a blatant plug – the Commonwealth of Learning are holding their 5th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning in London this July. It’s a conference that’s travelled the world over the past ten years and attracts an interesting mix of both practitioners and policy makers. The main theme is exploring how open and distance learning (and obviously open source educational content) can help achieve international development goals and education for all.

    @Steven Carpenter – pragmatic yes in terms of releasing content – but not entirely altruistic – it’s also great marketing. Berkeley gained a load of online and offline column inches and did a great job in positioning themselves with influencers, stakeholders and potential customers (students and corporate).

    13 May 2008, 22:09

  4. I think the OU is an interesting case in that it’s a different sort of institution to perhaps some of the other more traditionally based Universities – a fact which perhaps gives it a distinctive perception on this sort of thing.

    I am also intrigued about the marketing impact of the Berkley example – sure they got column inches, but how much behavioural change have they actually enabled – how many more applications, gifts and donations have they received as a result of taking that action. Sure, open access can be framed as a Social Good but that can only take you so far and at some point you have to demonstrate the direct impact of this action beyond newspaper headlines.

    13 May 2008, 23:07

  5. Brendan

    Tom, some very good points well made.

    I often consider the OU as just another university. Yes there are similarities to many conventional universities – e.g., they are actively trying to improve their research capacity, are concerned with student satisfaction, and are trying to understand their positioning in a changing world. However, looking at the OU Mission Statement, the difference with many traditional universities could be pretty fundamental – teaching simply doesn’t feature (although education, learning and research all do). What do you think? How important is teaching to the function of a university (especially one that’s looking to position itself internationally where the standards universities are judged by tend to be more research focussed)?

    Going back to UC Berkeley I’d agree relating outputs and outcomes to this sort of activity (I probably should have said PR rather than marketing in my earlier comment) is always going to be difficult. Yes there are some easy metrics that can be used but much of the benefit comes in terms of the deeper relationships that can be built and this is far more difficult (and usually costly) to measure. As a simple example of this, I wonder whether the engagement levels encountered by UC Berkeley fundraisers / alumni staff increased at the end of last year. I’d expect them too – after all it’s a much easier way in to a conversation to talk about something for the social good that the university has done (that they may have read about in the LA Times) when making a call to an alumni or other stakeholders than to harp on about having a smaller endowment than Harvard or Yale or trying to explain why it’s imperative that public institutions like UC Berkeley are supported for WP reasons. Whilst engagement isn’t a direct benefit now – it is what will drive recommendations and donations in the future.

    I think this post summarises the communications benefits more eloquently than I ever could. However I’m sure this is preaching to the converted. After all, it’s what you’ve been doing successfully with iCast, Warwick podcasts and the other areas of your work for some time. That said, I’d still love to hear whether (and if so how) you’re measuring your impact and value.

    14 May 2008, 23:59

  6. Ok – the OU is a ‘university like the rest of us’ but it’s also quite distinct in this specific sphere in that it has a history of generating video and audio content to a degree which the rest of us could only hope to attain. Just in terms of the back catalogue the OU carries the potential to make much more content available online than its peers and has the capacity and capability to produce large quantities of high quality materials. It’s just an integral part of what they do in a way that is not true for most of the rest of the sector.

    In terms of the emphasis (or lack of) on teaching then perhaps I could post something of a controversial idea – no University ever became top 100 by teaching. Indeed it could be argued that actually in terms of reputation and revenue teaching materials represent something of a loss leader for many institutions and so you could build an argument that suggested that actually opening up as much teaching material as possible to public access actually realises greater benefits for an institution in terms of reputation, social contract and generating interest which can be translated into research bids, donations etc., than those that are realised through teaching alone.

    Obviously this is playing devil’s advocate somewhat and there are plenty of reasons why teaching forms a significant element of reputation, but I wonder to what extent that importance holds up when aspirations are to compete globally with the big names in HE. That calls for something of another order in my mind.

    The social good issue – which relates to WP – is a very important consideration in the argument about public access to such materials. It is interesting to note the interest Research Councils are placing on digital content in this regard as a means of justifying their work to Government and I would argue that Universities are playing the same game here. We need to take seriously our responsibility for explaining not just the sexy research that grabs the headlines but the totality of what we do. This is the strongest argument to me for making course materials and research outputs public assets.

    I think the tipping point post is an interesting one, but would match it up with Chris Anderson’s discussions on the Long Tail as an interesting framework for understanding the potential of the Long Tail of HE (something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while) and the value of niche audiences. I believe that this is where Universities will build the long lasting stakeholder relationships of the future, not page 23 of the Independent (sorry).

    Parallel to that of course must be Andrew Keen’s discussion on The Cult of the Amateur which should be taken as a challenge to Universities to stand up and be counted in the face of the erosion of cultural and intellectual institutions (that’s how Keen puts it anyway…).

    To the practical point of measurement of icast and podcasts – there are some simple measures that we are using to assess downloads etc but we are also building in more calls to action to specifically deliver feedback and interaction to assess the impact of what we are doing rather than simply the fact of it. This has been relatively successful, if on a smaller scale, and wil be developed further to give us more qualitative data on what people feel about the material. There is a lot of maturing to be done in this sphere, but it is important that we figure this out quickly.

    16 May 2008, 09:06


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