YouTube as education

As you may have heard (see this article on Inside Higher Ed), a professor in Pitzer College Claremount, CA is conducting a media studies class not only on YouTube but on YouTube:

Students are filmed in class, watch themselves and others, and post to YouTube where anyone may comment, leading to a whole variety of remarks, some of them rude, not to mention questionable videos added by whoever:

This is very brave of the professor to do this because there is a loss of control and an increasing supervision (surveillance) not only of her students but of her as well (though the students can “return the gaze”).

Here’s IHE on how it begins:

“We’re recording,” says Alexandra Juhasz, a professor of media studies who teaches the course. “You should know right now that if you don’t want to be seen on YouTube you should be somewhere behind the camera. We’re going to be recording all semester, so you better get used to it.”

“That’s so awkward,” someone in the class mumbles — even though students knew coming in of the arrangement.

The class has attracted a lot of attention and much criticism. Certainly media studies ought to include these social networking sites particularly YouTube and to say that it not to equate it with some lazy “leisure studies” approach. On the other hand, watching some of these classes it is apparent that this class at least, with its hesitations, slowness and thin content is not necessarily appropriate for a dense, high bandwidth environment such as an 8-minute video. In other words the spaces are incompatible if both perfectly defensible in their own setting.

This might be a style thing not a pop vs. intellectual thing; as someone notes in the comments Richard Feynman on YouTube would be great. Style in the sense of a delivered, more one-way set of content would work, whereas the necessary pauses and interactivity of a discussion-based class are less compelling to a second hand watcher (but satisfactory if you are there participating).

So this raises the issue of a participatory video experience (distance learning)–would that attract the same criticism?

One Response

  1. What is it like on the other hand watching some of these classes it is apparent that this class at least with its hesitations slowness and thin content is not necessarily appropriate for a dense high bandwidth environment such as an 8 minute video.

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