Academic Earth has been called the Hulu of education. According to their website, Academic Earth is a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars. Their goal is to bring the best content together in one place and create an environment in which that content is remarkably easy to use and where user contributions make existing content increasingly valuable. Like Hulu, Academic Earth operates like a giant search engine of scholarly videos.
Recently, I shared this site with my wife Ana. She’s a big NPR fan and loves to listen to talk radio. Also a teacher, I thought she might enjoy watching some scholarly videos on topics she is interested in. She has since showed some of the course videos to her high school junior and seniors who are studying complicated math and computer science concepts. She also informed me that the courses were a great way to virtually expose her students to what they may expect from their college classrooms. Here are some things I liked and disliked:
– There are over 60 full courses and 2,395 total lectures (almost 1300 hours of video) from Yale, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Princeton that can be browsed by subject, university, or instructor. The professors are brilliant and the courses are those that you would find in any academic setting.
– You may have a massive migraine afterwards, but you can watch an entire semester’s worth of lectures in a few days.
– As I mentioned before, I’m still a little old school. I like the traditional classroom setting and the video recordings of actual class room lectures gives viewers the ability to enjoy the class room dynamic of students and professors discussing topics.
– Academic Earth doesn’t create its own original content; it just re-purposes and organizes existing academic content that’s already streaming on the web.
– The site claims that users can “interact” with the videos, maybe, but they certainly can’t easily interact with each other. Academic Earth doesn’t have any user forums, comments, social networking features, or ads.
– Academic Earth lets you download the videos, which is good, but it would be wonderful to have the videos in an MP3 format with the audio so that I could listen in the car or while walking our dog Jessie.
Speaking of dogs, I found Tom Byers’ video on leadership and business very fascinating. He strongly believes that entrepreneurs have to evolve with their organization. That seemed like a no brainier to me, but then he used a metaphor to compare entrepreneurs to three kinds of dogs: retriever, bloodhound, and husky, as they evolve into the role of CEOs. You’ll have to watch it for yourself.