Saturday, April 18, 2009

Youtube goes educational...the times, they are a changing!

On March 27, Youtube announced the creation of youtube.com/edu, a dedicated video channel for lectures and material from leading higher education institutions in the United States. Currently this channel hosts over 20,000 videos from prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, and the University of Michigan. Many of the videos posted are full length lectures from noteworthy professors including the ever popular physics lectures by Professor Walter Lewin of MIT. 

Now your first reaction to this addition by Youtube might be, "it's about time that there is something useful and educational on youtube, I'm sick of watching song parodies sung by teenagers in the mirror or action shots of people being stupid." While this is a welcome fringe benefit, I would submit that there are two important trends to be considered:

1. Large companies are realizing that there is a huge demand for educational training and information. 

The two largest and most innovative companies that I can think of are Apple and Google. Apple introduced  iTuneU several years ago and it has grown rapidly. Apple recently introduced iTunesU K-12 to further expand their academic offerings. Google (which owns Youtube) is quickly becoming one of the most formidable companies in the world and one of Apple's greatest rivals. I am not surprised by the launch of Youtube/edu and expect to see a K-12 channel made available within the next year. 

2. Education is taking place OUTSIDE of the classroom more and more. People of all ages are learning through their iPods, web enabled phones, wikis, blogs, and other web 2.0 technologies. 

School buildings and classrooms are so 20th century! Online learning has increased exponentially in the past 10 years with no end in sight. I continue to stand by my prediction that online learning will become the dominant form of education within 20 years. 

Youtube/edu has some interesting content which may be of some use to K-12 teachers, however the addition of such a service signals a change in the winds of education. In the words of the great poet-songwriter, "The times, they are a changing!"

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