Based in San Francisco, Academic Earth is an open access repository of full video courses and lectures held by leading scholars from the most prestigious American universities, such as MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. The entire database includes over 15,000 videos in various fields including the political and social sciences. Every course contains from 4 to 50 lectures, and the topics range from political philosophy to game theory and international studies. The site content is classified by subject, university, instructor and playlist selected by the website editors, while ‘most viewed’, ‘top rated’ and ‘top rated instructors’ reflect user preferences. An advanced search – by video type, rating, university and subject – is also available. Around half of the videos are embedded in the website and are freely accessible for viewing and downloading. The others can be seen using the download below each video to get to the quicktime version or on a Blip partner platform. Users can also personalize their AcademicEarth page, sharing videos on social networks and websites, citing, giving feedback, voting, subscribing to podcasts and organizing their favourite content after logging in. Individual audio and video files together with the complete transcript can also be downloaded. Reading assignments, bibliographical and online resources, slides and a short summary are available for each lecture. The platform is freely accessible and user-friendly. The courses and lectures are standardized in size and length.
An user-friendly educational ecosystem to find, interact with, and learn
A gateway to select electronic learning resources
Columbia Interactive is the gateway to selected electronic learning resources developed at Columbia University. The database of digital content is divided into various sections on the basis of the type of contribution: faculty interviews, learning tools, semester-length e-courses, and more than 100 shorter e-seminars. All content is free only to Columbia students, faculty, staff, while it is available to the general public through fee-based and licensing arrangements. The content is grouped into 16 subject areas each with its own organisation, depending on the material available. The culture and society section covers 28 events, while the political science and social policy section includes a variety of different learning tools, faculty interviews, journals and newsletters as well as the 50 e-seminars and more than 100 events, such as The World Leaders Forum and the annual Events of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). The contributions are individually recorded and updated in real time format and all videos are available with a short description of the lecture and photo of the lecturer, but none can be directly downloaded. Seminars have a brief presentation video and an introduction by the speaker, and there is a reading list for the seminar. Search is essentially by subject, advanced search and archive.
Columbia World Leaders
The year-round event of the Columbia University
Established in 2003 by Lee C. Bollinger, the World Leaders Forum is a year-long itinerant event in which leaders from all different regions of the world explore the main economic, political and social issues of the day. Several global leaders – such as the Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Michelle Bachelet of Chile, or the Dalai Lama – have taken part in this Colombia University project and their contributions cover a wide range of topics. The lectures are classified by personality, academic year, event and participant origin (with a world map to aid location). The events page includes a brief introduction to each event as well as links to the actual videos on youtube, as many cannot be viewed directly on the site. The site does not provide background information to the lecture nor biodata about the lecturer, nor are there any sharing or feedback tools. However, the straightforward structure of the site allows for easy access to the content and the site is updated as soon as new lectures are given.
Conversations with History
The conversation series of the Berkeley University
Conversations with History (CWH) is a joint project from Berkeley University and the Institute of International Studies (IIS). Created, produced and hosted by Harry Kreisler – Chief Executive of the IIS – CWH was conceived as a new format for satellite TV, consisting in long interviews with the most popular and influential international scholars. After the first test phase, it began broadcasting every Friday on national channels such as the Echostar Satellite Dish Network. Designed as a way to foster intellectual debate, Conversations with History has become a classic format and an acclaimed online archive, including over 500 interviews with eminent personalities from academia, politics and economics. The portal is organized by personality, year of publication and topic. There are more than 50 categories, but the classification does not appear always consistent. The archive contains all the interviews from 1982 and all can be viewed in direct streaming on the Berkeley websites or the Youtube channel, within the larger Berkely Events channel which includes the courseware and sports events. They are also collected in a section dedicated to UC-TV and are entirely downloadable from the iTunes U portal as podcasts. Transcripts of many of the lectures are available.
The webcast of the Cornell University
Borrowing from the friendly structure of the Youtube channels, CornellCast provides users with the most important video content produced by Cornell University. Content can also be accessed through the two main academic video sharing files, 8YoutubeEdu and iTunesU, from links on the site’s homepage. CornellCast is an improved extension and autonomous section of the CyberTower portal, the program of Cornell’s Adult University, a department within Cornell’s School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. CyberTower includes three principal sections: Forums – where leading Cornell faculty members discuss current issues – Study Rooms – mini-courses featuring members of the Cornell faculty where each “room” hosts video-streamed lectures on a selected topic and provides links to specially-selected Websites, and Tower Topics – short videos highlighting some of the most important research conducted by Cornell faculty members. The videos – more than 1,000 have recently been added – are organized by category, series, topic and playlist and accompanied by descriptive details such as date, tags, duration, links to longer videos, and personalization tools, such as the bookmarks available for subscribers. All the audio-visual content, freely accessible on the website, can be viewed, linked, and posted on social networks and embedded on websites. An RSS feed tool is also available, with other options such as feedback and areas for submitting content.
Free universal portal for education
The Cosmolearning project was set up in 2007 after a year of preparation during which the various videos collected on line were catalogued in order to produce an easy-to-use instrument to improve the quality of home-schooling, to provide quality resources for traditional teaching and improve the quality of learning for self-learners. With its attractive and easy-to-use interface, Cosmolearning now contains approximately 500 courses, over 1,500 documentaries, around 1,400 videos and over 1,300 images. The Video section includes video material in various formats, from lectures to interviews, as well as other kinds of historical documents such as presidential addresses. The contents are organized into 36 Academic Subjects, including different sections related to the political sciences, totalling more than 600 videos, categorized by topic (American Politics, International Relations, Political Philosophy and Political Strategy) and subtopics. The home page shows all the recent section updates, while the front page for each topic opens with a presentation and summary of all the videos, courses, video lectures, and documentary material available inside. All the videos are incorporated in the site and have an introduction and/or additional information, and users can give feedback. This is an interesting project because of its focus on improving the quality of content for the self-taught, but a weakness is the lack of homogeneity of the collected material, with no indication of the selection criteria used, nor any kind of order to follow for study purposes.
Duke University ON DEMAND
The video sharing project of the Duke University
On Demand is a video sharing project, produced by the Duke Office of News and Communication (ONC) in collaboration with the Duke Office of Information Technology (OIT), which is entrusted with organising the content. The platform has been built using open software in order to construct a free, interactive, database of academic videos. Videos are searchable by category or by referencing the Duke selections: New Videos, Popular and Featured. The Politics and Policy section includes more than 250 lectures, talks, interviews and short interventions covering a wide range of topics, from voting and elections to war and human rights. While the quality of the video recordings is variable, as is the relevance of the contributions, Duke OnDemand is a helpful tool for researchers, students and public users. Users can submit videos freely available on the web, which will be reviewed before posting. Every video can be viewed, shared and commented on. RSS feeds are available for each category. Related to the OnDemand project, The Duke Idea is a ‘personalities’ section. The brainchild of the Duke Alumni Association of the Duke University, The Duke Idea is a series of more than 20 talks led by President Richard H. Brodhead and various Duke leaders. The talks focus on the future of the university, challenges and prospects.
The free portal for videolectures sharing
With about 740 courses and 18,000 videolectures, FreeVideoLectures is one of the largest video archives for higher education, and is also freely available in other repositories. FreeVideoLectures is a non-profit organisation committed to organizing educational videos and making them freely accessible and downloadable. The Videos are organized into 35 subject categories and are provided by more than 20 top American Universities, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford etc. All the videos are freely viewable, as they are embedded in the website and most are downloadable in different formats. On the same screen, the lectures are accompanied by a course description, syllabus (in many cases), and lists of related lectures, the courses included in the same category, and all subjects covered on the website. FVL provides videos on a wide range of topics from Biosciences and Entrepreneurship to History, Law and the Social sciences. It has almost 200 videos grouped into nine courses. The site allows access via blog and can be accessed through any of the main social networks. There are also some tools for personalising the site, such as ‘favourites’ which can be saved after registration with the site, and users can receive news of all the updates and follow them using RSS feeds. There is a key word search window at both site and university level, and a single contents search.
Lectures, forums, panels and special events shared by the Harvard community
Based in Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University, celebrating its 375th anniversary in 2011, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Harvard University is made up of 11 principal academic units, ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, all of which are represented in the multimedia content on the site. Open Access and interactivity are the main logics of the videolectures repositories of Harvard University: the Harvard@Home project and Harvard’s videolectures and recording databases on iTunesU and YouTube. Harvard@Home offers more than fifty programs – lectures, University panels, Alumni College forums – linked from the “Program List,” covering subjects ranging from the arts to social sciences, from history to current affairs, from literature to science and mathematics. Harvard@Home also provides technical and professional consultation to allow other institutions to create similar multimedia products. The material is also available on the Youtube Channel with its 18 playlists, which integrates the webcasts produced by the faculties with the products shared by the many related channels. Almost 2,000 videos are available covering a wide range of topics from Political Science and Law to Architecture and Medicine. 400 of them are taken from the most important university events, while more than 1,500 belong to 16 related channels, such as those belonging to the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Business Review and the Center of Public Leadership. The contributions vary in content and length, from the short intervention format of the Harvard Kennedy School, such as those of Nye on The future of Power and McGregor Burns on Moral Leadership, to the extended lecture format of the Institute of Politics, such as those held in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
John F. Kennedy School of Government
The multimedia center of the Harvard Institute of Politics
The Multimedia Center at the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) has a collection of video-documents of all the symposia, lectures and other events organized by the Institute since the beginning of its activity as a memorial to President Kennedy. The site today is a database of thousands of videos from 1978 onwards, with all relevant IOP events, including the nearly 1,300 videos of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forums events. It is easier to access these on the Forum site, however, using the link on the homepage. There are also numerous interviews with prominent political practitioners, such as the series on “Why Politics Matters”. The videos are organised by topic, with 11 macro-themes and 90 subsections – and by syllabus, where the videos are in order and can be looked up by year. There is also a search engine on the home page allowing search by date. Videos are freely available for viewing in realtime format, though reproduction is often poor. The lectures are not embedded, and there is no accompanying material such as an introduction to the content or the speaker. There are links below the video-frame leading to other contributions on the site by the individual speakers and to related subjects. Despite frequent navigation and content problems, the site is a valid resource in terms of the quantity and importance of the material available.