YouTube for a college course?

Ray Schroeder over at the Online Learning blog points us to research just completed about using YouTube for higher education learning by Professor Alex Juhasz , Professor of Media Studies, at Pitzer College in California. Dr. Juhasz taught an entire college course through YouTube called “Learning from YouTube” in the fall of 2007. She decided to do this because she “wanted the course to primarily consider how web 2.0 (in this case, specifically YouTube) is radically altering the conditions of learning (what, where, when, how we have access to information).” About the experiment, she said, “…despite the “many resources” that YouTube offers there remain “even greater limitations” to the site.” A blog posting of her thoughts are here. And, on her blog, she shares how she continues to examine YouTube and its possibilities for use for college courses.

Some of the limitations she grouped as follows:

  1. Public/private – the intimacy and “safety” of students sitting in a physical classroom was disrupted by critical, semi-anonymous YouTube viewers who ultimately had no stake in the outcome of the course.
  2. Aural/visual – the 500 character limit on YouTube’s comments and regularity of web-speak tended to dumb down discussion.
  3. Body/digital – the lack of a physical presence severely limits and diminishes the importance played by eye contact and other non-verbal cues in the classroom in regulating discussion and preventing a free-for-all.
  4. Amateur/expert – Juhasz notes that while many YouTube aficionados might enjoy the way that the site allows amateurs to challenge and even knock ‘expert’ opinion, within a learning environment this makes structured teaching all but impossible.
  5. Entertainmen/education – striking a balance between keeping the attention of students through entertaining them while still feeding them information is much harder online.
  6. Control/chaos – the classroom, notes Juhasz, “is not the random chaos of information and power which is YouTube. For effective education, structure remains paramount.”

Here, Dr. Juhasz sums up her experience of teaching with YouTube:

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