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Video University Catching On

  • The expansive growth of online video has clearly been driven by the likes of YouTube and Hulu, two sites that focus on very different content publishers.  You’ve got the high budget sitcom across the table from the five minute, no-budget home video.  And sometimes you never know which one will be more popular.  Pretty amazing actually.

    One group of content producers has been around for longer than both network television and the home movie maker: educational institutions.  But only recently have they begun to open their doors to the non-student universe to get a peek into the lecture halls.  As described by CNN, French business school HEC Paris has even handed out iPod Touch devices to all their students to encourage use of the recorded content on their iTunes U portal.

    At first, universities held their video content close to their hand, only offering video lectures to the students in the class.  The recordings were considered a study tool.  What could be better to review your notes than the actual lecture?  Slowly, the OpenCourseWare movement picked up steam and institutions, led by MIT OpenCourseWare, opened their content up to the public.

    Opening up the video content has already proven to be a worthwhile exercise as it attracts positive attention to the school and displays the quality of its faculty and research, all with one of the richest experiences possible using a computer screen.  It has also shown to be one of the most effective methods of capturing an international audience.  The video portal giants have jumped into the activity in a big way as well.  iTunes U has been one of the most popular endeavors, offering educational content from hundreds of colleges, universities, high schools, and non-profits.  They have built off their podcast roots quite effectively to become one of the most popular destinations for free learning.  YouTube EDU and Academic Earth are two more popular repositories.  MIT World, also on iTunes U, is an example of how even content from outside the classroom is being captured to further distribute the intellectual horsepower on display within these institutions.

    The amount of educational content that could be captured for online distribution is unfathomable.  We’re only in the beginning stages this completely new medium for learning.

    We’d love to hear about your online education experiences.  Tell us about your favorite online lecture.  What could be done to make iTunes U even better?

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