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!

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