Archive for April, 2008

YouTube and Education

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

M’colleague Martin Poulter has been blogging about YouTube and education over at the Ancient Geeks blog. I agree with him that there is plenty of educational content on YouTube, but it could be easier to find and I also wonder where are all the YouTube educators?

I would imagine that mainstreaming video production into your normal working routine would be quite difficult, whereas blogging is text based and akin to writing up as you go along or thinking out loud – something that is easier to do and seems to have found an accepted place in academic discourse.

While looking for examples of the use of video in educational settings, I came across a fascinating case study from America.

Alexandra Juhasz is a media studies professor at Pitzer College, in the States. Last year she taught a class about YouTube using the site itself. Students contributions and assignments were uploaded to the site, which Juhasz arranged into playlists and added to with videos of her own.

Here she reflects on her experiences.

The course was picked up by the mainstream media and presented in the stereotypical manner of “What are these people doing watching YouTube at university?” Overall, Juhasz considers the whole experience to have been somewhat negative, describing the YouTube community as one that believes in self-censorship, is surprisingly mainstream and not a place for learning, although they learnt a lot there.

There’s a lot more on her interesting experiment via the archive of videos and playlists on the course YouTube channel and extended writings on her blog.

For more on YouTube and education try EDUCAUSE’s 7 things you should know about YouTube or OpenCulture’s 10 signs of intelligent life on YouTube.

Imprisoned by your VLE – use Facebook instead?

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Yesterday, I attended the Education Support Unit e-learning team Easter School here at the University of Bristol. As part of the session on collaboration, Mike Cameron from Durham University spoke about the educational potential of Facebook – I must confess that I was dubious that anything genuinely educational was going on there.

He contrasted the formal, educational experience of online learning that is represented by Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) with the free for all that is found on social networking sites like Facebook.

Land and Bayne (2002) have even gone as far to suggest that VLEs have similar characteristics to Bentham’s Panopticon, a design for a prison where inmates are kept in check by the possibility that everything they do is being watched or in the case of a VLE tracked, assessed and recorded.

Mike told us about an academic at Durham who was invited into an existing Facebook group that her students had set up to support each other in their course. She did not actively take part in the group, but used what she learnt there to improve interactions within the course VLE, address topics that the students did not fully understand in subsequent lectures and relate topics in the syllabus to students areas of interest, as stated in their Facebook profiles.

Durham followed this up with a survey of their students use of Web 2.0 sites and one sixth of them said that they were consciously learning with their classmates in such spaces. However, students feel that such spaces belong to them, a theme I have encountered before when looking at Web 2.0 activity in schools and educational uses of YouTube.

It appears that students are learning in Facebook, the question is what – with no quality control without the watchful teacher / prison guard. If academics are invited into these spaces by their students, they can engage with them to improve the quality of the teaching and learning experience, as long as they respect the fact that it is an informal learning space where they are not an authority figure.

Mike’s paper from ALT-C 2007 Whose e-learning is it anyway? A case study exploring the boundaries between social networks and VLE courses gives a learning technologist perspective on all this and it also includes a set of PowerPoint slides.