Saturday, July 31, 2010

Scaffolding & Teaching (and Learning)

by Susan Codone

Scaffolding is an instructional concept that is often attempted and often misunderstood.  In preparation for this blog posting, I read many articles about scaffolding, most with the word scaffolding in the title.  At least four articles did not offer any definition of scaffolding, describe its origin in Vygotskian thought, or provide any examples of real scaffolding strategies, providing instead broad instructional events like "assignments" or "homework" as efforts that scaffold learning.

Defining Scaffolding
Let's start with some definitions so that we can place scaffolding in the right context.  In Scaffolding Emergent Writing in the Zone of Proximal Development (Literacy Teaching and Learning, 1998), Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong write that Jerome Bruner first wrote about scaffolding in the 1950's.  Rooted in Vygotskian thought (but never discussed by Vygostsky), Bruner defined it as the expert support provided by an instructor to facilitate the learner's transition from assisted to independent performance.  Bruner said that the scaffolds provided by the instructor don't make the task itself easier, but they make it possible for the learner to complete the task without support. 

Wikipedia's entry on instructional scaffolding describes it as representing the helpful interactions between the teacher and learner that enable the learner to do something beyond his or her independent efforts. The crucial characteristic of scaffolding that many people miss is that a scaffold is only a temporary framework that is put up for support and is taken away when the learner gains control of a task.  In An Approach to Reducing Cognitive Load in the Teaching of Introductory Database Concepts (Journal of Information Systems Education, 2010), John Bunch defines scaffolding as something that presents performance support as needed to achieve a goal, and then fades it away as the learner is able to achieve the goal independently.

Types of Scaffolding
There are two types of scaffolding identified in the literature -- hard and soft.  Brian Belland, Krista Glazewski, and Jennifer Richardson (A Scaffolding Framework to Support the Construction of Evidence-Based Arguments Among Middle School Students-- Education, Technology, Research and Development, 2008) define soft scaffolding as just-in-time support provided by a teacher or peer that helps students meaningfully participate in the performance of learning actions.  They define hard scaffolding as technology or paper-based tools that are based on anticipated student needs -- like videos of experts, computer-based help, etc; hard scaffolding is meant to augment soft scaffolding.

Scaffolding Strategies
The strategies used to scaffold learners are the heart of the theory and are how teachers can bring learners along to independent practice.  Many instructional strategies can be used as scaffolding as long as the teacher uses them to gradually bring learners along and then fades out their use as learners gain independence.  In Scaffolding Collaborative Exchange Between Expert and Novice Language Teachers in Threaded Discussion (Foreign Language Annals, 2009), Lina Lee discusses the use of social dialogue and critical reflection in threaded discussion as scaffolding techniques, saying that expert dialogue and feedback with learners offers expert assistance, reduces learner frustration, and increases motivation and cognitive growth.  Instructional strategies like these can be applied carefully as scaffolds to increase independent learning.

Other strategies for scaffolding include:

1. Strategies to solve novel problems
2. Development of mental models that generate multiple representations and visualizations
3. Problem solving strategies with specific steps learners can follow
4. Writing guidelines that serve as a formula for composition
5. Websites that offer additional information for learners trying to solve problems or generate written answers
6. Heuristics offering a framework for completing work

7. In math, using partially worked out examples that students complete with help
8. In literature, using guided role play and reenactments as connections with a story
9. In problem-based learning, using Socratic dialogue and metacognitive coaching to help learners question their understanding
10. In science, using expert modeling, question prompts, concept mapping, evidence gathering, helping questions

Done well, scaffolding and its gradual withdrawal can help promote cognitive growth and transfer of learning.  It can help students learn complex tasks and internalize procedures for solving problems.  Belland, Glazewski, and Richardson say that scaffolding should be systemic, motivating, and tailored to the ability of students.  Making the scaffolding explicit for students helps this process as well -- they should know they are being given support and should know when it is taken away.  Overall, scaffolding is an excellent strategy for structuring learning and making learners independent -- as long as it is done well and competently.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Effective PowerPoint Presentations

by Susan Codone

PowerPoint, and other presentation tools like it, is either the blessing or bane of most professors' daily work.  As a tool to project content, it has often been misused by presenters in a hurry or too uninformed of its features to use it properly.  On the other hand, it can be very successful when used well.  PowerPoint has its detractors, though.  Every article that I reviewed for this blog posting referenced Edward Tufte's 2003 article on the Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, and talked about his great dislike for bullet points, linear presentations, and simplistic presentations.  Tufte even called PowerPoint "content vacuous".  

There are other PowerPoint detractors in addition to Tufte.  David Brier and Kaye Vickery, in a 2009 articled titled "Perception and Use of PowerPoint at Library Instruction Conferences" (References & User Services Quarterly) listed their 5 top characteristics of bad PowerPoint presentations:

1. Speaker reads slides to audience
2. Overuse of text on slide
3. Slides use full sentences and paragraphs instead of bullet points
4. Text is too small to be read
5. Slides are hard to see because of color choices

Many of us have sat through PowerPoint presentations that were difficult to endure, for these reasons and many more.  But PowerPoint, used well, can be quite effective in transmitting important content to listeners.  Patricia Nemec and Anne Sullivan Soydan, in the 2008 Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal (The Medium Isn't the Message), write that PowerPoint has two main functions.  First, it is a visual aide supplemented by a spoken lecture, and second, it is a set of trainer notes that are a useful organizer and pacing tool.  Not only is PowerPoint good as a tool for presenters, it also can help listeners learn and remember better. Jo Mackiewicz, in her 2009 article Comparing PowerPoint Experts' and University Students' Opinions About PowerPoint Presentations (Journal of Technical Writing and Communication), associates Dual Coding Theory with PowerPoint, saying that PowerPoint is uniquely positioned to offer both verbal and visual content, thus activating both processing systems and enhancing memory.

So if PowerPoint can be used well, how can we become better designers and presenters?  One of the greatest minds on the correct use of PowerPoint is Jean-Luc Doumont.  In his 2009 book, Trees, Maps, and Theorems: Effective Communication for Rational Minds, he spells out clearly how to design and present excellent PowerPoint presentations.  I will borrow liberally from his work as I explain how to both design and organize slides and deliver presentations.

Good PowerPoint Slide Organization

Jean Luc Doumont says that presentations should answer five questions -- what, when, why, who, and where.  With a focus on the audience, presenters should be concentrating on what the listeners will be able to do after attending the presentation, not on the next slide.

Doumont recommends this slide organization -- title, attention- getter, preview slide, content, transition, content, conclusion, questions.  The title slide should do just that -- state the title and author's name.  Quickly following, the attention-getter slide is the one that really makes the very first impression on listeners and, obviously, gets their attention. Using a statement, question, anecdote, analogy, or visual, Doumont says that it also serves as an advance organizer, telling the listeners quickly what to expect from the presentation topic and getting them ready to learn.  

The preview slide is very important; this contains the "table of contents" or outline of the presentation.  This tells listeners how long the presentation will be and how many sections it will include.  The preview slide can also be used again as a transition slide throughout the presentation; whenever a new section is begun, show the preview slide with the completed sections grayed out.  This offers listeners a visual indicator of progress and tells them what is left in the presentation.  

The conclusion slide should concisely sum up the presentation, and the questions slide need not say "Questions" -- it could just contain an organizational logo, or some other symbol, and the presenter can just ask for questions.

Effective Slide Design

Doumont correctly says that poorly-designed slides reflect upon the speaker and compete with the speaker for the audience's attention.  Many times we place too much text on the slide, and then the listener cannot both read and listen to the text read out loud at the same time (Dual Coding again -- confusion of processing systems.)  Doumont says that if you aren't going to mention it, don't put it on your slide.  He says speakers make three common mistakes:

1.  Creating slides for themselves as memory aides with often cryptic text
2.  Making slides to double as a written report
3.  Copying text to slides without adapting it to slide format

Doumont says to include text, but a small amount, accompanied by a visual on each slide.  Write in a complete sentence and consider not using bullets, but tabs.  Illustrate your message as visually as possible, limiting the text used.  Use a light background with dark text -- projectors are stronger now and room lights are usually kept on.  Text should be in a sans serif font, with one typeface and only a few sizes.  Color should be used very sparingly.  Resist animations; they distract listeners from your message.

Presenting Slides

Doumont says that opening sentences like "Hello My Name Is" or "I am going to talk about fail to appeal to the audience because they lack a compelling purpose and are not motivating.  Instead, he says to start with a rationale and tell listeners immediately about the purpose of the presentation.  He says that listeners want to know why they should listen at all, and thus we should tell them -- and that we should talk about the topic (The system has three advantages...), and not about the speaker (I will present three advantages...).

Doumont recommends standing either to the left or right of the screen, whatever works with your right or left hand or how you have to advance the slides.  SpeakerFace the audience with shoulders, hips, and feet, and point to the slide with the hand closest to the screen. Project your voice to the back of the room, and elaborate on the slide, never reading the text to listeners who can read it themselves.  Maintain eye contact with listeners as you speak.  This means you should know your presentation material well enough that you don't have to look each time you make a slide transition -- slides should not be used as visual prompts.  When you make a transition to a new section, use the preview slide, but don't read it; let it visually tell the listener what's been done and what's next.  At the closing, sum up the presentation both visually and verbally, and then you're ready for questions.


PowerPoint is like many tools -- it is what you make of it.  By following these guidelines, you can make a credible, successful presentation that will be listened to and remembered.  You don't have to be an advanced PowerPoint user to use it well -- just one who follows good, solid guidelines and who cares more about what the listeners should get from the presentation than just getting through all the slides.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dual Coding Theory and Teaching

Dual Coding
by Susan Codone

Allan Paivio initially proposed Dual Coding Theory in 1971 to explain his view of how we remember pictures and words.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes Dual Coding Theory as one of the most influential theories of cognition in the 20th century. Paivio states that his theory of cognition has roots in the practical use of imagery as a memory aid going back over 2500 years (Dual Coding Theory and Education, 2006).  In fact, he says that memory is crucial to Dual Coding Theory because it is the basis of all knowledge and thought.

Paivio argues that there are two ways a person can elaborate on material.  One form of elaboration uses verbal associations; the other form creates a visual image to represent a picture or word.  Paivio says that pictures result in better memory and the potential of imagery is a more reliable predictor of learning than words.  Dual Coding Theory proposes two independent memory codes which together increase the chance of successful information retrieval.

Teaching with Dual Coding Theory
Richard Mayer, who has proposed the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, borrows the concept from Paivio that the learner possesses both a visual information processing system and a verbal information processing system (Richard Mayer and Roxana Moreno, A Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning: Implications for Design Principles, 2005).  Both he and Paivio apply their theories in teaching by saying that whenever you teach a concept with words, pair it with an associating picture in order for your students to more easily transfer it from working memory to long-term memory.  For example, the two PowerPoint slides below illustrate this principle; the first is text only, while the second uses the most important text along with a relevant picture of what is being taught.

We all know that text-only slides are not as effective as a slide with text and a relevant picture.  In teaching, though, our use of pictures and text goes beyond teaching efficiency; by offering students both mediums, we open two channels into their working memories, thus laying down more solid neural pathways and making later retrieval much easier.  We make it easier for them both to learn and to recall information later when we use two channels of presentation.

Take a look at this screen grab from a medical e-learning course from Interact Medical.  This particular screen displays text on the left with an explanatory picture, including labels, on the right.  Now, medical education is very dependent on pictures, but this slide is actually more efficient than most; the text on the left "primes" the user to understand the picture on the right, and the picture confirms the message of the text. In the event the student looks at the picture first, the opposite effect occurs -- one pathway is laid down and the student next associates the text with the picture.  Both the visual and verbal information processing systems are invoked in the learner and the message of the text and the image both go together into working memory, linked by association as they eventually move into long-term memory.  The learner can then more easily retrieve the message by recalling the text and the picture, because both are linked by association in long-term memory.

Paivio says that images are more effective in both encoding into memory and retrieving from memory because an image provides a "'second kind of memory code independent of verbal code".  Mayer, in his research on multimedia and cognition, builds on Paivio's work by offering several principles of multimedia learning, the first of which is that it is better to present an explanation in words and pictures than solely in words.  Mayer says there is a multimedia effect consistent with a cognitive theory of multimedia learning because students shown multimedia explanations are able to build two different mental representations -- a verbal and visual model -- and build connections between them.

If you don't know what a kangaroo is, which picture is better?

Dual Coding Theory has great implications for teaching and learning.  Essentially, we do our students a favor when we offer multiple presentation modes to them while teaching -- we make it easier for them to acquire the  information, make associations, store it in working memory, transfer it to long-term memory, and then recall it later.  As professors, we can be better informed by the use of this theory, and our students will benefit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Bookmarking

by Susan Codone

Social bookmarking is a Web 2.0 phenomenon that is growing site by site, with explosive growth in the last couple of years.  Most of us began bookmarking by designating sites we liked as "Favorites" in Internet Explorer.  With social bookmarking, instead of saving your favorite web addresses on your computer, you save them at a social bookmarking website, thus giving you access to them from any computer with Internet access.  This allows you to share, organize, search, and manage your web resources and look at those of others.

The key to this is in the word "social".  John Thompson, writing in the June 2008 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, (Technology: Don't Be Afraid to Explore Web 2.0) says that social bookmarking gives you greater capabilities than the original means of bookmarking -- you decide if you want others to have access to your links.  Peter Godwin, in New Review of Information Networking (2007), says that by "tagging", or assigning keywords to your links, you help link ideas and share resources with others (Information Literacy Meets Web 2.0: How the New Tools Affect Our Own Training and Our Teaching).  Thompson also says that the result of shared tagging is a "tag cloud", or a shared group of tags of different sizes representing different topics.  The size of a tag cloud can indicate its topical popularity.  Godwin says that this can strengthen searching power and increase understanding of topics.  In fact, the social bookmarking site (formerly tells users to tag bookmarks and "let collections emerge."


There are many social bookmarking sites, but let's look at the top three as currently positioned by their Alexa rankings (  Digg, or, is a social bookmarking site where people can discover and share content from anywhere on the web.  According to their about us page, Digg allows users to vote on content, letting the best content surface to the top by popularity -- in other words, users collectively determine the value of content.  With ten million users, Digg is "democratizing digital media".


The social bookmarking site StumbleUpon offers "stumblers" the chance to discover and share websites, with matches delivered based on personal preferences.  Pages are recommended by users with up/down ratings, and rather than using a traditional search engine, members (or stumblers) are taken directly to websites that match their personal interests and preferences.  StumbleUpon describes themselves as a combination of human opinion and machine learning.  With eight million users, StumbleUpon ( offers current collaborative opinions on website quality for their users.


Squidoo is an interesting website that allows you to gather your perspectives on topics into something they call "lenses" and publish them on the site.  Lenses are pages or overview articles that pull together everything you know about a topic and bring it to the attention to others.  Squidoo calls itself a publishing platform and a community of users and says they help you share your interests, build an online identity, and connect with other readers.  With more than 1,400,000 published lenses,  Squidoo is establishing itself quickly as a major web presence.  You can also make money from lenses; if you create a lens that gets lots of traffic, you can place Google ads on it and earn money.  Some Squidoo users are earning thousands of dollars monthly.

Social bookmarking sites offer many collaborative services for users to not only bookmark web services, but also share and manage their favorite sites with others.  The idea of creating a tag cloud and having popular topics emerge through user input is another factor unique to these sites.  Clearly, they are having an impact on the Internet based on their popularity, and it's certain that they will continue to grow.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Self-Regulated Learning

by Susan Codone

As professors, we’ve all seen the problem of underperforming students in our classes -- students who could do well cognitively and behaviorally but do not for a variety of reasons. We know the phenomenon of high D/W/F courses, especially those in math and science, where large numbers of students fail to meet requirements.Engaged Student In a 2009 article on concept mapping, Kyo You Lim, Hyeon Woo Lee, and Barbara Grabowski (British Journal of Educational Technology), say that college students are required to process a great deal of information, but simple access to this information doesn’t guarantee the creation of knowledge. Barry Zimmerman, who has written widely on self-regulated learning, wrote in 2002 in Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview (Theory in Practice) that few teachers actually prepare students to learn on their own.

Self-Regulated Learning

One solution to this age-old problem is Zimmerman’s work on self-regulated learning (SRL). Anthony Artino and Jason Stephens, writing in an article about adaptive and self-regulated learning in the summer of 2009 issue of the Journal of Advanced Academics, say that theories of SRL are used by educators and educational psychologists to better understand how successful students work and how they improve their learning. These authors call SRL “Academic Self Regulated Learning”, saying that self-regulated learners are active participants who efficiently control thoughts, feelings, and actions to improve learning.

Zimmerman (2002) states that SRL is self-generated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are oriented to attaining goals. SRL involves more than knowledge of a skill; it involves self-awareness, self-motivation, and behavioral skills to implement learning appropriately. Joanna Garner of Penn State University, writing in a 2009 issue of the Journal of Psychology, compared executive functions of planning, impulse control, goal setting, self-monitoring, and motivational drive and found that when intact, these executive functions predicted cognitive strategy use, metacognition, and academic effort regulation – all tenets of SRL (Conceptualizing the Relations Between Executive Functions and Self-Regulated Learning). Garner visually described SRL this way:

Garner believed that self-regulation consisted of metacognitive strategies that lead to academic effort, and more affective elements that lead to motivation and volition to succeed.  Yet Zimmerman (2002) says that SRL is not a mental ability or an academic skill; instead it is a self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills. Zimmerman lists three phases of SRL:

1. Forethought phase – where our interests lie
2. Performance control – where we apply cognitive and learning strategies
3. Self-Reflective – where we assign cause and effect to our actions

Zimmerman believes that these phases are what we all go through as we identify our interests, manage our cognitive efforts to learn, and identify causes for our actions.

Applying SRL In the Classroom

Theories are sometimes hard to apply in the classroom. Zimmerman and colleagues conducted an experiment in 2010 to investigate a semester-long classroom intervention designed to enhance SRL processes in at-risk math undergraduate students ((Zimmerman, Moylan, Hudesman, & Flugman, Overcoming self-regulatory deficits of at-risk math students at an urban technical college: A self-regulated learning intervention. Presented at the 2010 Research Conference of the Institute of Education Sciences). After the intervention, significantly more students in the SRL treatment groups passed the math course than did those in the control groups. Three interventions were used:

1. Instructor modeling of error correction

2. Guided self-reflection opportunities as part of formative assessment

3. Incentive system to reward subsequent attempts at learning

Here’s how Zimmerman and his colleagues implemented SRL processes in the at-risk students. First, the teachers purposely made errors in their content presentation and then modeled techniques to solve problems. Students were encouraged to come to the board and talk aloud their solutions – verbalizing the problems, their detection of the errors, and the way to solve them.

Every 3-4 days the students took a 4-5 question quiz. Before answering each question, students estimated their confidence (their self-efficacy) in solving the problem..Engaged Student They solved the problem, then estimated their confidence that they had solved it correctly (their self judgement).

The quizzes were returned along with a self-reflection form; on it, students could explain what they did wrong and needed to do to solve the problem correctly; then if they solved a similar problem correctly, they were given partial credit for the quiz (called incentive points). They also compared their self-efficacy and self-judgement scores on the basis of how they solved the problem. Questions were discussed in groups, and students practiced describing math strategies and procedures.The experiment was successful in proving that equipping students with SRL processes will help them succeed.

Not all of us can go to the depth of intervention that Zimmerman's experiment did, but we can implement methods to better equip students with SRL processes.  We can expand the amount of reflection that students do; we can let them estimate their readiness for tests and other academic challenges, and we can use class time to collaboratively explore areas that are difficult.  We can remind students to plan, organize, and manage their study efforts; we can explicitly model learning strategies that will help them succeed, and we can allow them to redouble their efforts to understand why they failed to succeed.  Self-regulated learning may not be a single skill, but it is teachable, and it is worth trying.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Video and Teaching

by Susan Codone

From the interactive videodisc series Jasper Woodbury by the Cognition and Technology Group at JasperVanderbilt toYouTube today, the availability of video for instruction has grown exponentially.  Elliott Masie wrote on March 2, 2010 that "the introduction of video into almost every aspect of our learning and work tasks is profound and disrupting."  He goes on to say that "Rising bandwidth, lowered equipment costs, ease of editing and growing expectations of learners will make video a profound component of our learning efforts going forward."

Sloane Burke and Shonna Snyder, writing in the International Electronic Journal of Health Education (2008) say that Internet-based resources like YouTube integrate relevant content and help students reflect on how to apply what they've learned.  In their article YouTube: an Innovative Learning Resource for College Health Education Courses, they say that as a teaching supplement, YouTube videos inspire and engage learners and " their digital learning style."

Ashley Falzetti, writing in Feminist Collections (2008) says that she seasons required texts with YouTube videos to provide content for denser theoretical readings (Reading YouTube, Contextualizing Theory).  Using YouTube for educational videos has proven to be more popular.  Martyn Poliakoff and Brady Haran created the Periodic Table of Videos, with a video for each of the 118 elements.  Since launching they have attracted millions of hits and won a 2008 award for excellence and education (Teaching Chemical Engineering, Feb 2009).  Even something as staid as pathology has found a home at YouTube, with the University of St. Andrews (UK) identifying YouTube as an informative and accurate source of histopathology learning (Medical Teacher, 2009).

Theory and Pedagogy

Theoretically speaking,  social learning theory by Albert Bandura Jasper
best describes what happens when we learn from video.  The Theory In Practice (TIP) Database states that Bandura's theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of other people.  The most common use of social learning theory is through commercials; we watch them, learn from them, and often model their behavior by purchasing the intended products.  In much the same way, students can watch educational video and model the attitudes and behaviors they see.

Pedagogically speaking, the theoretical foundation for learning through video is constructivism and active learning.  Wikipedia says that active learning is really an umbrella term that refers to instruction that focuses the responsibility of learning on the students.  Since videos can be an extension of a one-way teaching method, the student is still a passive learner and in danger of cognitive overload due to dense video content (Lee and Sharma, 2008).  Active learning can compensate for these problems by engaging the student and promoting cognitive activity.  Group work and student discussion are important components of active learning.  Lee and Sharma recommend showing videos in short segments, with time in between for students to participate in group activities and discussions about what they have seen, and what they predict might be next.  Just allowing students to watch video without breaks for reflection and discussion keeps learners in a passive mode and inhibits knowledge transfer.

Personal Example

In my classroom, I teach engineering students about engineering ethics.  I have learned that a thorough study of past engineering disasters often results in learning about what ethical decisions should have been made.  One such example is the 1996 ValuJet 592 airplane crash in the Florida Everglades.  Flammable cargo was loaded before flight, breaking ethical and official airline regulations.  A documentary video exists on YouTube that is broken into five 15 minute segments.  These are ideal for viewing, followed by reflection, group discussion, and even debate on the ethical issues after each segment.

Other YouTube video segments I have used in class include the Bhopal chemical plant disaster, the Challenger and Columbia accidents, Three Mile Island, and the Kansas City Hotel Walkway Collapse among others.  Each time I use video in the classroom student engagement and attention are high, and I believe that learning occurs at a greater rate than if I were just to describe the tragedy or have the students only read about it.  The videos help the experience come alive for students who weren't yet born when the Challenger exploded.

Elliott Masie said that videos are becoming a large part of our learning process.  In the classrooms, videos can be used to bring life to experiences and help students engage -- as long as they are used well, with plenty of time for student reflection.  YouTube and other video-sharing sites make finding videos easy, and most professors are equipped with classrooms able to show video.  Videos make a great supplements to lessons; I encourage you to use them with your students today!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cousins of YouTube

by Susan Codone

YouTube is the preeminent video collection on the Internet, especially with its 2006 acquisition by Google.  According to Wikipedia, YouTube is the 3rd most visited site on the Internet behind Google and FaceBook and in 2007 it is estimated to have consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000.  In May 2010, 14 billion videos were viewed.  Many videos on YouTube are educational in nature and can be used by professors as supplements to lessons.

But did you know that there are several other websites devoted to educational video, especially for higher education?  Marilyn Gilroy, writing in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education (2009), suggests there are other sites who seek to find a better way to collect and highlight educational video content.  In her article Higher Education Migrates to YouTube and Social Networks, Gilroy describes YouTubeEDU, BigThink,  Academic Earth,, and iTunesU.  Another site, TeacherTube, also offers educational video for the secondary and postsecondary markets.  Finally, Gary Marchionini of the Open Video project describes an open source digital video library that can be used by researchers, teachers, students, and the public.

YouTubeEDU seems to be a loose collection of educational video posted by professors and other education professionals from around the world.  YouTubeEDU doesn't appear as a component of the YouTube menu, but a search yields educational videos titled YouTubeEDU.  Gilroy states that YouTubeEDU features lectures and other materials from many colleges and universities, including Stanford, Harvard, and MIT.

Big Think is a "global forum connecting people and ideas."  This site offers videos from leading professors, with special series such as the Top 10 Videos of the First Half of 2010, Life in 2050, and Sustainability, among others.  Broad video topical areas include Arts & Culture, Belief, Business and Economics, the Environment, the Future, Health and Medicine, History, and Science and Technology among many others.  According to their About Us page, Big Think says "We believe that not all information is equal. We believe that expertise is invaluable and should be shared."

Academic Earth offers online degrees and video courses from leading universities.  Its mission is to "give everyone on earth access to a world-class education."  Academic Earth most popular social science courses include game theory, communication and conflict in couples and families, introduction to psychology, financial markets, and the geography of U.S. elections.  According to their About Us page, Academic Earth is "building a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars. Our goal is to bring the best content together in one place and create an environment in which that content is remarkably easy to use and where user contributions make existing content increasingly valuable."

According to Gilroy (2009),, or "The Smart Network", offers unedited videos from events at universities, think tanks, and conferences. On their About Us page, they say, "We gather the web's largest collection of unmediated video drawn from live events, lectures, and debates going on all the time at the world's top universities, think tanks and conferences. We present this provocative, big-idea content for anyone to watch, interact with, and share --when, where, and how they want." Current video topics on include the 2010 Wired Business Conference, choosing judges, the Supreme Court, the iPad, and Afghanistan.

Then, says Gilroy, iTunesU, with more than 150,000 lectures, presentations, videos, readings, and podcasts available for download dwarfs most other educational media sites. iTunesU offers institutions a single home for distribution of information to students and faculty. In fact, iTunesU offers content distribution, a custom site for institutions, public access to educational media, and internal access for institutions wanting more security. This is more than a learning management system -- this is a learning media system.

TeacherTube's About Us page says that "We seek to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide anytime, anywhere professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill." Teacher Tube offers videos, documents, audio files, photos, channels, communities, and blogs. The site appears to market more toward the secondary market, especially the home school community.

The Open Video Project is an effort to develop an open source digital video library for educators and students.  Gary Marchionini, in his article Video and Learning Redux: New Capabilities for Practical Use, describes it as a way to create and study an open source repository of digital video, using it as a testbed for research. The project came from the Baltimore Learning Community and representations the use of a digital library as a "sharium" for collaboration and contribution of materials and expertise.  The About Us page says that "The purpose of the Open Video Project is to collect and make available a repository of digitized video content for the digital video, multimedia retrieval, digital library, and other research communities. Researchers can use the video to study a wide range of problems, such as tests of algorithms for automatic segmentation, summarization, and creation of surrogates that describe video content; the development of face recognition algorithms; or creating and evaluating interfaces that display result sets from multimedia queries."

Clearly, YouTube is not the only player in the educational video and media market.  Other sites worth mentioning are SchoolTube, Discovery Education, Yahoo Video, and Google Video.  As we can see, there are many options available for educators, who must choose the one best suited to reach their educational and institutional mission.  Making that choice depends on the needs of students and faculty and upon the content to be taught.

Stay tuned for my next article on using video in the classroom!