What YouTube can teach higher education

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Order’s up!

 

Educators agree that it’s good practice to foster scaffolded learning. We want individuals and groups to incrementally build on progressively more complex and sophisticated knowledge and skills. And we typically ‘serve it up’ over a multi-week course, comprised of two or three hour classes. For several years. Higher education is the equivalent of fine gourmet dining.

At the same time, a gushing torrent of digital information makes accessing ‘just in time’ learning seem attainable in short bursts of focused content. Interest, relevance and engagement are measured by clicks and eyeballs. If higher ed is a fancy restaurant, then YouTube is fast food.

The two seem diametrically opposed, but I’m thinking that YouTube has some good lessons for teaching and learning in higher education, such as:

  • Viral is good (we want learning to replicate and spread)
  • Every minute is precious – make each one count
  • Keep things moving
  • If it’s complicated, break it down
  • Surround the learning experience with lots of opportunities (banner ads!) for further, self-directed exploration
  • And…make it totally accessible to anyone and everyone.

This last is a challenge when higher education is very much a business (see Richard Wellan’s book review: Grappling with Academic Capitalism in Canadian Universities, reflecting “the logic of commercialization and corporate models on the behavior of essentially public institutions”). Similarly, a fabulous and expensive dinner out is a luxury few can afford.

It occurs to me that lots of fancy restaurants are putting artisanal versions of  ‘fast food’ basics on their menus. I wonder what my courses would look like if I were to break them apart and YouTube-ify them? (I’m not talking about MOOCs – I’m talking “wiki-MOOCs”).

Food for thought.

 

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