Web video, teaching and love

September 27, 2010 § 3 Comments

My mind is regularly blown by the way web video is changing how we learn, and increasingly how we teach. It’s something that raises wonderful questions about the future of education.

I think about this a ton as I watch my 11 year old become a bit of a geek. He doesn’t use help files or FAQs to learn new software. He watches YouTube tutorials. And, as his skills grow, he shows off and shares by making his own:

Much has been said on the learning side of all this. Clearly, video packs way more info punch than print. And the ubiquity of online video means we all tap into rich (and fast) new learning opportunities constantly. TED’s Chris Anderson released a great talk on this side of video and learning a few weeks ago.

Chris points out that we live in a world of online video fueled by a desire to dance, sing, perform, play and think. Most people who post videos online are not driven by the desire to teach — they just want to show off or have fun. Yet, as we watch them, we learn.

There is, however, a huge online phenomena very much about the desire to teach: web video tutorials. A great example is the Khan Academy:

Driven by a. frustration with how schools teach math and science and b. easy access of YouTube, Sal Khan has produced a massive, high quality collection of 1800+ web tutorials for self learners. The idea has landed him a $2 million Google 10^100 grant. It’s also attracted millions of viewers eager to learn.

What’s even more exciting to me is that this sort of teaching isn’t limited to over achievers like Khan. YouTube alone holds over 10 million tutorials (search: tutorial and how-to). Videos with people teaching everything from how to set up WordPress (400,000 views), how to curl your hair with paper bag (2 millions views) to how to moonwalk (8 million views). Here’s the moonwalk tutorial:

If you look to the young people making these tutorials (like my son), web video isn’t just making learning easier. The web is creating a generation that takes it for granted that we can all be teachers. Teachers driven by the best aspects of the word ‘amateur’ — a love of a subject and a desire to share that knowledge.

Clearly, this is HUGE — and is truly giving us all more control over how we learn. The question is: what does this mean for the future of education? What does it mean for who we turn to when we want learn something? And how we all start to teach each other?

These are questions I want to sink my teeth into at Mozilla’s Learning, Freedom and the Web Festival in Barcelona. I’m not sure what this conversation looks like yet. If you’re making or thinking about video tutorials, I’d love your help figuring this out (and running sessions in Barcelona). Please get in touch.

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