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[opensource] Broadcasting courses

Henrik Bennetsen bennetsen at gmail.com
Thu May 22 09:48:55 PDT 2008


Hi all,

I have been trying to keep up with Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab's BJ
Fogg and his recent course Psychology of Facebook. He broadcast classes live
to the web using UStream <http://www.ustream.tv/>. In a newsletter yesterday
he shared his thoughts on this experiment. I found it really interesting and
have shared his words below.

I feel that most of us in the Open Source Lab would be sympathetic to the
idea of sharing course content and sometimes feel we fight an uphill battle
to make Stanford more open. A balanced discussion of pros and cons of
openness can get lost in between the views.

..and with that :)

-----------
> Thoughts on broadcasting our course live to people around the world
>
> I didn't intend to broadcast this new course live over the web. In fact, I
> was hesitant to do this because I thought being on live video might hurt the
> classroom experience. Also, because this is a new course, I didn't want to
> broadcast all the mistakes I might make in running the course. But many of
> you wanted to peek in, so we complied. Overall, I'm glad we did. I've
> received some nice notes of thanks, including from places I'd never expect.
>
> I feel we've pushed the edge a bit in teaching & sharing. To broadcast our
> course we used no special gear, no budget, no advanced preparation. Today,
> any teacher with a computer, a web cam, and an internet connection can
> broadcast live. But the question remains: Why would a teacher want to
> increase complexity and stress in the classroom?  I received no direct
> benefits for broadcasting except your notes of thanks. Somehow, making this
> content available to a wide audience felt like the right thing to do.
>
> We got a rocky start with the technology, especially the audio. But we
> eventually improved. The audio/video quality still isn't superb, but it's
> decent. And for those who are interested in this topic, even a low-quality
> connection is much better than nothing at all.
>
> I didn't expect that Ustream would record and save the video on their site.
> In fact, I explicitly didn't want this to happen. Yet I've heard good things
> from people who have watched the recordings. I worry about archiving the
> informal things we've said. The idea of being recorded does (or should) make
> you think twice before you speak. At times there were things I wanted to say
> but did not, knowing this was being recorded. This sensation, I suppose, is
> not so different from the effect Facebook is having on students these days
> while on campus: they know anything they do with friends in real life could
> appear on Facebook in a photo or Wall post.
>
> Would I choose to broadcast the course live again? Perhaps. Would I save
> the videos online? I'm not sure. I may remove the remove the videos at some
> point. They seem to pose a liability, with no clear benefit in return.
>
> One more thing . . .
>
> Having a Facebook group -- all of you -- as supporters was definitely a big
> plus. It was helpful to get your feedback and input. It was fun to update
> you every week or so. Yes, I will definitely start groups for future
> courses. I hope to learn how to involve you in the course more. One barrier
> is time. But another problem is that the features in "Facebook Groups" are
> not so good. I've asked a few people at Facebook to make improving Groups a
> priority, but they don't seem to understand the new value they can create by
> making their Group offering "world class" and not merely mediocre.
>
> Those are my thoughts for now . . .
> --------------------
>

-- 
Henrik Bennetsen
Research Director
Stanford Humanities Lab
Stanford University

Wallenberg Hall, 450 Serra Mall
Building 160, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2055, USA

bennetsen at gmail.com
Cell: +1 415.418.4042
Fax: +1 650.725.0192
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