Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A New Way to Learn....

Here's an interesting development in the world of academia and one I imagine we'll see a good bit more of at all levels of education in the future.  A Media Studies professor at Pitzer college has published her most recent work of scholarship through MIT Press as a free "Video Book" on YouTube.  The "book" consists of a combination of text and videos and stems from a class she taught on YouTube.  Back in 2007, when she first taught the class, she was ridiculed for teaching a subject many considered absurd.  I can testify though that as a graduate student at USC, I was lucky enough to take a class on MTV taught by the amazing Nancy Vickers, who went on to serve as president of Bryn Mawr College.  That class too was thought "ridiculous" by some, but it was probably the best and most memorable class I took in my graduate years.  Some might think it an odd choice for both a literature professor and student, but I learned more about detailed, perceptive analytical work in that class than in any other.  Now, much of this certainly was the teacher, but I would nevertheless argue that "reading" technology can be quite illuminating.  And yes, in the hands of the right teacher -- any subject becomes fascinating.  I was lucky enough to work with Nancy on several occasions and she was one of my dissertation advisors.  She was brilliant and my time spent in her classes was invaluable.

This new concept is one I'm sure will be used in the future.  It's much more than just a videotaped lecture.  It's a truly interactive book where one can click on icons in the text and watch a video demonstration of the concept.  It's ideal for media studies of course, but will likely seep into film/drama studies and many other areas before long.  I can imagine it being invaluable to science courses, where viewing an experiment from start to finish could bring life to otherwise dry descriptions of difficult operations.

I've included one of her "textios" (a page with a combination of text and video) below to give you an idea of how this free on-line textbook looks.  Enjoy!

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