Sign of the times

The University of NSW recently launched its own channel on YouTube – the first Australian institution to do so.  It’s no surprise given most students entering university today have virtually grown up online. 

While it’s a great marketing strategy, it recognises where today’s students are.  Although the channel will broadcast some lecturers in an attempt to reach potential students, it captures the ubquitous nature and popularity of Web 2.0.  

This is the democratisation of knowledge – no longer contained within lecture theatres or classrooms but shared.  Learning becomes accessible, anywhere, anytime.  Transportable, transparent, relevant and exciting.

The University of NSW is to be applauded but we still lag behind.  iTunes has developed a store dedicated to education called University.  It’s ‘the campus that never sleeps’ –  allowing universities across the US to upload audio/video lectures, interviews, debates, presentations for students – any age, anywhere.  And it’s free. It’s astounding and exciting to think that a cohort of students and teachers from a school western Sydney can watch a biology lecture from MIT. 


The challenge for us is to open our K-12 classrooms to a new audience – to share knowledge as professionals and to showcase quality learning and teaching as we move from isolated classrooms to a connected global learning environment.

3 thoughts on “Sign of the times

  1. The UNSW site is a great initiative, but we are, as a whole, still a bit behind here.

    I was just reading a post on the Principalville blog about their professional learning this year, and it would be great to see schools share their learning online for others to benefit. Maybe one day Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta will be able to launch its own YouTube channel?

  2. An ambitious project to be sure. One of the many issues that schools will need to embrace is whether or not they decide to support open standards for such publishing platforms… whether schools would decide to contribute to a free and open platform such as iTunes/RSS, or whether they will decide to do what they so often do and go it alone. School IT systems are notorious for wanting to reinvent the wheel and come up with their “own systems” for doing these sorts of things.
    One of the success factors in iTunes U is that is slots directly into the iTunes model for podcasting and content distribution. I’m trying to imagine whether schools would ever allow themselves to be a part of that in a wholesale, systemic manner? Allow iTunes to manage our content? Hmmm.
    I agree that content needs to be made accessible, but somehow there needs to be some form of aggregation or tagging or social referral that allows the best content to float to the top… no one needs 5000 biology lectures from 5000 schools to populate the lecture databank. We need to somehow take the best of the best, and allow those recordings to be used as the definitive ones perhaps? A tough task…
    On another note, I enjoyed your talk at the ACE event at St Caths today… thanks for sharing so willingly.

  3. Great comments. Robert, it is not “dreaming “. We are actively pursuing such possibilities (see Chris’ comments). Last night, I made the point that the greatest challenge to schooling today is relevency to young people and therefore by definition the world in which they/we live. The future is open standards and open access. This is what Tim Berners-Lee envisaged.

    This is a fight we do not ned to have. As Jimmy Wales also points out, the web is democratising knowledge.
    What we as educators have to do is to ensure that young people and their teachers learn how to use, engage amd contribute with the range of social and relational technologies. Forget trying to control it and to do your own thing. We have wasted far too much time energy and precious resources doing just that in the past.

    Tagging is so critical to these technologies and to teachers sharing their practice, this takes us down the path that Chris outlines as possibilities. What a great time to be a teacher!

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