On the Net: College too expensive? Try YouTube

(AP) -- It might seem counterintuitive to look for higher education alongside Avril Lavigne music videos, but the video-sharing site has become a major reservoir of college content.

The Inc.-owned has for the last few years been forging partnerships with universities and colleges. The site recently gathered these video channels under the banner YouTube EDU (http://www.youtube.com/edu ).

More than 100 schools have partnered with YouTube to make an official channel, including Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Yale and the first university to join YouTube: UC Berkeley.

There are promotional videos like campus tours, but the more interesting content is straight from the classroom or lecture hall. Many schools have posted videos of guest lecturers, introductory classes and even a full semester's course.

At a time when many are finding college unaffordable and the ranks of the unemployed are swelling, free higher learning can sound like a good way to spend some free time.

"There's a huge appetite around the world for people to better themselves, to study subjects that they either never got a chance to or haven't studied in a while," said Obadiah Greenberg, the strategic partnership manager for YouTube.

In the past five years or so, colleges and universities have been increasingly opening their doors digitally to the public.

"That Ivory Tower reputation may be even more dated than the advent of YouTube," said Scott Stocker, director of Web communications at Stanford.

In 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the MIT OpenCourseWare (ocw.mit.edu ) with the plan to make virtually all the school's courses available for free online.

As a visitor, one almost feels like you've somehow sneaked through a firewall. There's no registration and within a minute, you can be watching Prof. Walter Lewin demonstrate the physics of a pendulum by being one himself.

Last December, MIT announced that OCW had been visited by more than 50 million people worldwide. But why would institutions that charges a huge price for admission give away their primary product?

Ben Hubbard, program manager of the webcast project for the University of California, Berkeley, believes it has always been a part of a university's vocation.

"The mission of the university has been the same since our charter days back in the 1800s," said Hubbard. "It's threefold: there's teaching, research and community service. Probably in the 1800s they weren't thinking of it as the globe, but technology has really broken down those barriers of geography."

In 1995, Berkeley launched its webcasts (webcast/berkeley.edu ) with video and audio webcasts of classes.

In 2007, Apple created iTunes U, a service that allows schools to make material accessible only internally by students or externally by anyone. Most schools do a little of both.

Tools like iTunes U and YouTube EDU not only benefit the community and those called "lifelong learners" curious for a lesson or two in engineering or economics. But these services are powerful marketing tools that ultimately only provide one dimension of the college experience, schools say.

"We all see that the real value in a college education goes so far beyond the lectures that faculty give," said Stocker. "It's a way for people to get a taste of what the Stanford experience is, but you're not getting a degree and you're not getting direct interaction with faculty."

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Apr 09, 2009
"you're not getting a degree"

End of story.

Apr 09, 2009
A valid point. There may be additional obstacles though... What if the class has a lab? Some classes you simply can't test out of. I'd imagine you need a certainly level of self-discipline as well. The costs saving would certainly be worth it though!

Apr 09, 2009
"you're not getting a degree" is most certainly NOT the "End of story."

Well educated citizens have far more value to society that just those with degrees. It is quite possible to live a happy, productive and valuable life without a degree and those with degrees know that degrees alone do not guarantee financial or intellectual success.

Apr 09, 2009
Your points may certainly be true, rfw, but the motivation to sit through hours upon hours of YouTube videos with no verification for doing so is no substitute for a real degree, regardless of the amount of education obtained.

During a job interview, what's going to carry more weight? "I watched 128 hours of MIT YouTube videos" or "I completed 128 credit hours at MIT and received a BS degree."

Want to expand your mind? Watch videos.

What to earn a degree? Go to class.

How many C-level High School students are going to take advantage of these videos "for the hell of it?" As in, for no degree? Not too many, I'd imagine.

Apr 10, 2009
I've watched a lot of these courses out of pure curiosity and learned a lot from them. I never expected anything to become of it, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone in place of college. They would, however, be good for anyone that wants to learn ahead, diversify their education, review, or for people who simply enjoy learning.

My only problem now is thinking that if I went to study these materials in college I'd be awfully bored very quickly.

Apr 10, 2009
On the bright side, just think of how fast the information dispersal is.

Apr 10, 2009
This is only the start. Please see Onlinevideoclassroom.com

Apr 13, 2009
It has potential, but there needs to be a formalized process to verify the knowledge gained. Employers get thousands of resumes sent to them every day with a simple click. They sort and filter out by keywords, especially formal degrees. Without being formally accredited, the videos are only useful to a very small niche of people, at least in the near future.

Apr 21, 2009
With discipline and ambition a person can generate capital and pursue his or her own interests without any formal education. But of course there are key environmental factors in a persons life that may or may not be conducive to such a pursuit. In the case that circumstances are permissive this sort of thing can make for an invaluable reference. Bill Gates for instance never graduated. Many artists and musicians and a surprising number of entrepreneurs have made their way to notable success without formal education as well, though success is rarely attained without any education be it formal or not.

Jun 05, 2009
college may be expensive but there is a way of reducing the costs. i just think that students need to re-assess the schools they wish to apply to - you can dramatically slash the costs of going to college simply by choosing a community college or an online school - that's what i'm doing right now (so i'm well versed in online learning and the world of youtube!) i know some people think i'm missing out or that there's no real merit to online degrees, but i reckon that is rubbish. all learning is valuable, no matter what the medium. here's an article that talks about the rise of online learning (really students have grown up on technology, so i only see the popularity increase in years to come)..http://www.top-co...ucation/

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