YouTube launches YouTubeEDU

Brian Eno predicts YouTube

Seems like I have been all about free and open video collections lately. I’ll move onto some other fun tools I have been playing with soon, I promise. But I couldn’t let today’s announcement by YouTube go unblogged.

YouTube launched YouTube EDU, a special section of YouTube dedicated to educational videos from over 100 universities and colleges.  According to the YouTube blog, the task of collecting and organizing the collection was a volunteer project undertaken by a group of YouTube employees who wanted to highlight the educational content being uploaded by college and universities. The result is a subsection of YouTube dedicated to us educational types, complete with a lovely search engine that searches just the EDU section. Nice.

Flickr Photo:  Venezia 042 Tez – Brian Eno predicts YouTube by watz. Creative Commons license.

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So, just how do you work this thing? Student stymied by textbook

There are shades of the viral video Middle Ages Tech Support in this very funny and impromptu classroom video.  Like all good humour, I suspect there there is more than a bit of truth behind the yuk’s.

In this video, student  Joe tries to interact with his textbook. The video was shot by the student’s teacher, Mr. Chase. I can see using this for more than one or two presentations I have coming up.

From Chris Lehmann’s Practical Theory blog.


The robots are coming! The robots are coming!

Robot Attack

The end is nigh, I tell you! Robot teachers are about to make their debut in Japan. We’re all doomed, DOOMED!

In what could be a harbinger of the future, elementary-school students in Tokyo are being taught by a robot.

Saya is the result of 15 years of research and is being tested as a teacher after working as a receptionist.

She — or it — is multilingual, can organize set tasks for pupils, call the roll and get angry when the kids misbehave.

Oh good. They’re ANGRY robots. Have we not learned anything from The Terminator? Don’t make them ANGRY!

Flickr Photo credit: Robot Attack! by Dan Coulter. Used under Creative Commons license.

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Academic Earth: free and open video lectures

Open Educational Resources

I am not a big fan of iTunes U. I know there is a lot of great content there, but unless you use iTunes it is inaccessible (and if you do know a way to access iTunes U content without iTunes I would love to hear about it). So, I am always on the lookout for resources like Academic Earth.

Academic Earth is a website featuring video lectures from Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Princeton and Yale.

While collections like Academic Earth are not new (you could find many of these lectures on each institutions YouTube channel), what is nice about Academic Earth is that it filters and packages the collections in a very friendly and easy to use way. For example, on the Playlist page you can view thematic collections put together by the site editors that group lectures from different instructors and institutions around certain themes like Love is in the Air, a group of videos on emotion, love, dating, marriage, and sex that cross disciplines and combine lectures from Psychology, English, and Economics.

The site also features all the Web 2.0 goodness you would expect from a video site these days – embedding, the ability to subscribe to specific courses, and user feedback where logged in users can grade the lectures. One added academic feature of the site you don’t normally find on other video sharing sites is the citation feature, which gives you a nicely formatted snippet of citation code that you can cut and paste when referencing the video. There are also links to transcripts and other related resources like PowerPoint slides and (in some cases) captures of blackboard/whiteboard notes, adding further value to the video lecture.

Right now there are over 1500 lectures on the site, which seems to be heavy on Business lectures. But as the site grows I would expect that to change and balance out in terms of subject matter. Still, sites like Academic Earth are nice alternatives to the locked down world of iTunes U.

Image Credits: Open Ed Poster by riacale. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license

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Personalize D2L content using variables

Online Course Peer Review at Lake Superior College just posted a nice D2L tip on how to personalize content in a D2L course.

By inserting {firstname} into any HTML spot in your courses (news, content, release conditions, etc), D2L automatically places your students’ first names into your message.  This just adds an element of personalization to your class.  This also works if you’d like a student’s last name or username inserted — {lastname} or {username}.

I have tested a few other variables and have found that these work as well.

  • {OrgName} will show the name of the organization (in our case, Camosun Online).
  • {OrgUnitName} will show the name of the course.
  • {UserName} will show the login name of user.

I have checked the D2L documentation and can’t seem to find any reference or list of available variables so there may be more. Remember to include the brace symbol ‘{‘ and ‘}’ at the beginning and end of each variable.

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