Experiment: A Class About Youtube, on Youtube

February 23, 2008 at 11:40 am | Posted in Youtube | Leave a comment
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This is a rather interesting experiment, interesting for everyone involved in learning and teaching: Professor Alex Juhasz taught a course about YouTube at Pizer College – on Youtube. You’ve probably already heard about it – quite a number of people and mainstream media have reported about it. Alex writes:

I had decided that I 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). Given that college students are rarely asked to consider the meta-questions of how they learn, on top of what they are learning, I thought it would be pedagogically useful for the form of the course to mirror YouTube’s structures for learning–one of the primary being user, or amateur-led pedagogy. So, the course was student-led, as well as being amorphous in structure within a small set of constraints, for this reason of mirroring, as well

This is something I immediately want to emulate! I have an appointment with my PhD adviser on Monday evening, and I might suggest it to him. First, however, I need to work myself through the VAST amount of material that Juhasz’ class has produced – it’s really amazing. Start with her own mission statement here:

Update: It really took my quite a while to work myself through some of the videos, and I am far from having covered them all. All in all it seems as if the experience, while it was going on, was pretty frustrating for the students – they got a lot of attention, both form peers and parents and from the media. For the media, it was mainly just another topic to be served to audiences and they packaged it mainly along the lines of ‘You kidding me? A class on Youtube?’. The feedback the students got from peers was, by and large, that they sure must be ‘slackers’ because a Youtube course must clearly by an ‘easy’ course, right?

It’s usually hard to grasp when one is in that situation, but learning effects are usually most profound when they ARE frustrating. And I LIKED their videos in particular because they bring across the intensity of that struggle. Here is my favourite student midterm assignment – it is my favourite assignment as part of its strategy is that it makes the reader/viewer YEARN for a copy of the message written down on a piece of paper where he or she can control the speed of delivery itself. So: Youtube is not the answer to all our questions – but better than many people think.

If one were to emulate the experiment, then I’d certainly provide for a closed learning environment – the class itself mustn’t be exposed to the Youtube public, as people are vulnerable when a learning progress is underway.

Here are two more videos, just so that you don’t misconceive the project as something created by a media-illiterate crowd (the video above used that appeal as a strategy)

Race, Class, Culture & the Big Brother House

January 19, 2007 at 10:15 am | Posted in Entertainment, Gender, Popular Culture, Race, Television, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Read Lenina’s post Shilpa vs. Jade: Indian upper-class vs. White working-class and watch the video below. It might stop or flicker when you play it the first time, but once it’s been fully loaded the quality is quite good of that one. I suppose it was uploaded by one one of the Channel 4 employees, as it shows the credits sequence for a suspiciously long time and freezes on the logo in the end.*

Why though did “they” choose to subtitle Shilpa’s, but not Jade’s words? Apparently because Jade’s accent – distinctively working class – was considered typically native. Being a non-native (or non-Brit – that might be the more crucial distinction at work here) I have a much harder time understanding Jade than Shilpa (and I’m quite fond of the Indian accent).

Lenina read the incident as a class issue, the British public predominantly has to read it as a race issue (and display signs of guilt and horror to appease the Commonwealth audience – to whom the show and its continued airing is probably a clear case of colonialist behaviour and discourse).

One could simultaneously look at it as an example of typical problems that may arise in crosscultural communication. As Jade claimed herself, she wasn’t able to read Shilpa or figure out whether she was “genuine” and hence assumed, based on her previous perception of such behaviour (in upper class people), that she wasn’t. Shilpa (even Jade had unknowingly provided her with the code to deconstruct the attack) in turn was hurt because she mainly took in the reproachful comment that she wasn’t genuine and that she played games, but clearly couldn’t see why Jade’s inability to read her disconcerted Jade so much. According to Shilpa, she simply “played the game (= BB) by the rules”. In the same way, Jade wasn’t able to see why what she perceived of as “being direct and honest” was not appreciated, but taken as vile (uneducated) behaviour and interpreted it as an upper class reflex. It couldn’t occur to her that being working class (and behaving like it) was probably not a centre of positive identity construction in some cultures (like the Indian), and looked down upon for other reasons than wanting to deride the uneducated. Etc, etc. Watch the video and see for yourself 😉

Bye the way, eviction night is on tonight on Celebrity Big Brother!

*) Back in the Web 1.0 days, start-ups had to take successful content like comedy show videos off the web because they couldn’t afford the bandwith. These days, they just upload them to youtube. How youtube can afford this is beyond me – but we also do not know yet whether the Web 2.0 bubble is going to burst or not. I think it will, but not quite as dramatically as the last one.

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