by Paul Maharg on 23/10/2007

U. of California at Berkeley has been posting teaching videos on YouTube — see here or here.  Good idea, but am I the only one to wonder why they’re videotaping actual lectures?  This doesn’t play to the new medium at all, unless it’s got pretty high production values, and a very engaging speaker, and even then….  The live lecture is a totally different social, cultural, informational environment from watching video.  And then to have a video of a lecturer writing with chalk on a blackboard, talking the while to the blackboard – one actually writing up the course requirements on said blackboard  while r-e-a-d-i-n-g it all out loud – not quite the dual channel use of multimedia we have in mind when we think of video/audio streams…

Can anyone explain this one?  Am I missing something?

Compare, for instance, Michael Wesch’s videos – The Web is Us/ing Us.  Or A Vision of Students Today.  Or Academia 2.0.  Or his video trailer to the introduction to Cultural Anthropology.  You may (probably will) disagree with at least some of the content.  But how much more inventive and compelling is the form — it allows for the neat irony of the ending of A Vision of Students, with Wesch fronting & facing a blackboard.  This is not heavyweight video stuff – Wesch’s The Web is Us/ing Us was made by himself, at home.  See also Lee LeFever’s CommonCraft stuff — great little videos on wikis, social networking software, etc.  Budget stuff, simply, neatly produced, fast and cleverly scripted — less is more.  But it’s also entertaining and full of opportunities for learning. 

It’s also an engaging use of the video medium for conversation.  YouTube is set up for video conversations.  You can post video replies, you can comment on videos, you can share videos.  You can encourage your students, as Wesch does, to post their own video reflections, like the one on authenticity that is a comment on both the converser’s performance and Wesch’s — it’s social software in action.  It’s the exact opposite of the lecture. 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Mayer October 24, 2007 at 04:01

You aren’t missing anything except…. think of this as raw material for future mashups. Not all of the material in the video is mashable/mixable, but some is. In a one hour lecture, not all of it is compelling or great teaching, but some might be. If the raw material are available in digital format, then maybe excellent learning materials are possible later.
Second, think of this as “priming the pump”. Once the process of creating and posting videos becomes easy (recall that this took a loooong time to happen on the web) and the institutional obstacles were overcome…. now we can start having exactly this discussion – how can we improve what is posted. Once this great stuff is created, it’s trivial to distribute it. Five years ago, getting it posted was a HUGE obstacle. There is good here.


2 Paul Maharg October 24, 2007 at 14:49

Yes, you’re right John re the availability of the digital stuff — can’t ever argue against that. But while I talk beneath the fold about the idea of fit-to-context, I also wonder about the toolset that’s available to people to do what you’re saying.
For example — if I come across a passage that I want to capture, say, 34 mins 23 secs into the video, that lasts for 2 mins, how do I capture that easily without a video-edit desk or specialist software? I’ll probably also want to embed it beside similar extracts, maybe link it up, comment on it, share it, etc. — mashup! as you said. But I guess I’d have to download the video, open it with specialist software, view it, cut the bit I wanted, etc., possibly upload to another specialist tool to splice with other media. As I was saying in the previous post, 3D Rhetoric, we don’t yet have the simple manipulative tools to match the potential conceptual sophistication that the digital environment allows us to create.
Or maybe we do, and I just don’t know about it — tell me I’m wrong — with your genius for mashup thinking, is there an online app that can let me do this as intuitively as copying & pasting and instantly editing text? Is there such a thing as an online video wiki?
Actually, maybe there are examples of students doing this at the moment, either in Berkeley or elsewhere. It wd be interesting to know if there’s any research on that.


3 MySpareBrain October 25, 2007 at 11:56


I’ve been off reading one of my collegue’s blogs about videos and learning, and this time I’ve got to get stuck right in!”Why are they videotaping actual lectures?”In the most primitive terms, the main reason is one of investment: money…


4 Michael Hughes October 25, 2007 at 12:09

“Is there such a thing as an online video wiki?”
YouTube does already have the rudiments of this with it’s “Video Responses”, which allows users to post a response, which is back-linked to the video it is in response to!
An example video with responses:


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