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YouTube EDU — The Classroom of the Future
Lee Xiao Wen
Photos courtesy of Google Inc
Published: EduNation, Issue 6, November-December 2013
YouTube EDU started as a project at Google but in just three years it has grown to a fully-fledged portal. Dedicated solely to education-related videos, it currently offers some 850,000 of these, from over 1,000 channels. With the exponential increase in the number of videos available on YouTube — 100 hours’ worth are uploaded every minute — YouTube EDU is becoming an increasingly important educational provider.

EduNation had the chance to interview Ms Angela Lin, Head of YouTube EDU, via video at its Singapore office.

“The big challenge for a lot of students and for teachers is the difficulty of finding educational content so that’s how YouTube EDU came about. When we began it was actually focused on university content because that was the easiest to obtain. However, now there are three major categories: K-12, higher education, and lifelong learning,” said Ms Lin.

The first category spans nursery to high school education with content providers like Sesame Street and Khan Academy while the second often includes lectures or even whole courses from universities. The last is the most diverse in terms of the types of content it carries, including, as it does, TED talks and channels like BigThink, where experts and speakers share their knowledge with the world. But the most popular content, surprisingly, is aimed at pre-schoolers.

“I would say that in terms of category the most popular type of content is the pre-K videos aimed at young children. Channels like Sesame Street, Super Simple Songs, Kids TV123 and so on. That specific segment is really popular because even though YouTube is geared towards those aged 13 and above, parents are finding videos and shows from their own childhood that they want to share with their children. Programmes like Sesame Street have been favourites with every generation.”

Outside of the pre-K demographic popularity of YouTube videos, another major area of interest is languages. A lot of people are learning to pick up second and third languages. According to Ms Lin, one Chicago public school didn’t have local teachers who spoke Arabic, and so they built their curriculum around the YouTube channel of a woman based in London who teaches Arabic. The students used her videos and even had a video conference with her. “Videos therefore become quite powerful as a learning tool. They do not just complement the classrooms that exist today but also fill gaps where there aren’t any teachers with the right skills,” elaborated Ms Lin.

The next big thing in online education is Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) and YouTube EDU is already there. Two MOOC giants —EdX and Udacity, are already driving their content through YouTube. Next up, it wants Coursera — which hosts content on their own servers — to come on board. “These massive open online courses see YouTube as a great partner because we reach over a billion unique viewers a month. They can upload their content once and have access to it all from multiple devices across multiple territories and this isn’t something that universities were able to do in the past without having to invest in significant infrastructural resources,” said Ms Lin.

The reasons the universities are willing to do this, Ms Lin said, are simple. “The primary motive for these universities is that their mission is to educate. So ultimately their mission is to share their knowledge and research with the world. Traditionally, this has happened in one of two ways. One is through classes on campus with professors teaching their students, and the second is through publishing papers. Nowadays with sites like YouTube and open courseware it’s possible for them to go beyond that to fulfil their mission to an even greater degree by providing the lectures, research and content through video. So I think that’s first and foremost what universities tell me is their main motivation — it’s to fulfil their main mission of educating and then being able to do it beyond their physical campuses.

“Also, some professors are interested in testing out certain types of ideas. They want to instigate a conversation and traditionally they could only do so through academic conferences and papers and having to debate and discuss their research that way. But now, through video and social media, they can have more immediate feedback and engage with a global audience. If you’re in a small university in Ireland, say, and you’re researching some topic, you might not have been able to share information as readily with another researcher halfway across the world before, but now through technology in general and videos in particular you can,” concluded Ms Lin.

As the world becomes smaller and increasingly integrated, we can expect YouTube to be at the forefront of creating the classroom of tomorrow.

精选文章 > 打造未来主流课堂的YouTube教育平台
刊载:《新学》, 第6期,2013年11月-12月
短短三年,谷歌旗下的YouTube EDU从实验性的项目发展为功能全面的网上教育平台。

今天,YouTube EDU的1000个频道共提供85万个教育视频。它正在快速增长,平均每分钟有100小时的视频挂到网上,按照这个发展趋势,YouTube EDU将是国际未来重要的教育资源供应平台。

通过远程视像会议,《新学》新加坡教育双语双月刊记者在新加坡谷歌办公室与在美国负责YouTube EDU的主管林永函进行远程视像访谈,了解YouTube EDU的发展趋势。

怎么想到在网上开办教育平台?林永函说:“教师和学生常常因为‘教什么’和‘学什么’感到苦恼,这正是我们开发YouTube EDU的推动力。我们原先聚焦在大学的课程内容,因为这是最丰富及最容易获得的资源。后来,才发展出:学前至高中教育、高等教育及终生学习三大类。”

学前至高中的教育视频,包括芝麻街及可汗学院等;高等教育则有大学教授的上课录影或大学提供的完整课程。至于终生学习,内容最多元化,它网罗了许多著名专家分享经验的“TED大会”(TED Talk)及“大构思”(BigThink)等著名的讲座活动。


林永函说:“以儿童为对象的学前教育视频最受欢迎,例如芝麻街、Super Simple Songs、Kids TV123等教育频道。尽管YouTube EDU主攻13岁以上的观众,但也明白现代家长喜欢找自己童年曾经看过的儿童节目让孩子观赏,最明显的例子就是‘芝麻街’,这流行了几代人的节目。”

除了儿童视频,另一个受欢迎的类别是语言教学,这与越来越多人想学习第二或第三语言有关。林永函举例说,一所芝加哥公立中学,因为没有教导阿拉伯语的教师,于是靠着YouTube EDU所开设的阿拉伯语课堂来学,这群芝加哥学生通过YouTube EDU教学视频,跟着一位在英国的阿拉伯语女教师学习,孩子们甚至通过远程视像会议和这位远在英国的女教师互动。


还有一件大事是“网上巨型开放课堂(MOOC)”的两大巨头EdX及Udacity都把课程内容挂到YouTube EDU来,另一个著名网上学习平台Coursera也将加入YouTube EDU大家庭。

林永函表示:“这些著名的网上课程认为YouTube EDU是最佳合作伙伴,因为我们每月有上亿人次的浏览率。教授们所要做的只是把讲课的内容挂上网,之后这些内容就会通过YouTube EDU的渠道,无远弗届地传播到世界每个角落去。这是以前单靠在大学讲课根本办不到的事,毕竟像YouTube EDU这样的平台,需要注入庞大的资源和经费才能建构。”

为什么大学愿意把课程内容免费挂到YouTube EDU 来呢?林永函解释,这与大学的存在意义有关。她说:“大学的办学目标是传播知识,与更多人分享知识。从前,传播知识的传统途径有二,一是教授在课堂授课,二是在报刊发表文章。自从网站如YouTube EDU的崛起,大学只要把教学、研究等内容以视频方式挂到网上,更容易传遍全世界。各大学给我的反馈意见一致是,YouTube EDU打破了校园界域,能帮助他们完成教育使命。”

有些教授也希望通过YouTube EDU探讨和验证新思维或新理论。从前,要进行学术交流,只有通过学术会议发表文章,但随着视频和社交网络媒体的崛起,教授不仅可以即时获得反馈,还可以接触到全球各地的意见。从前教授无法很迅速或很简便地联系上地球另一端进行相同研究的同行,现在只要善用科技,尤其是视频之便,迢迢千万里之隔,已经不再是问题。”

随着科技越来越发达,世界越变越小,可以预见YouTube EDU将会是未来的主流课堂。

Angela Lin/林永函
林永函主管YouTube EDU业务,负责统筹内容的策划、合作伙伴及原创节目。她曾担任策略顾问,专长于电子媒体与娱乐,曾是洛杉矶电影节的电影制作人。她考获哈佛大学经济学荣誉学士学位,及哈佛大学商学院工商管理硕士学位。 Ms Angela Lin oversees all things educational at YouTube, including content strategy, partnerships and original programming. Prior to joining YouTube, Ms Lin was a strategy consultant specialising in digital media and entertainment and served as a film programmer at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Ms Lin graduated with Honors in Economics from Harvard University and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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