Science on Youtube

[lang_en]The University of Berkeley broadcasts several lectures on the web. Broadcasting lectures to the world via www is not brand new, even not for Berkeley. But it is that they now broadcast on an own Youtube channel. Altogether there are 300 hours of lectures available yet. Of course I had to get a short impression of that after I had found the hint via Schockwellenreiter(de). I often welcomed new broadcasters who went to the people and opened a channel on Youtube or last time at Sevenload.

I must say that I was a little bit disappointed by what I saw. The reason is simple: Youtube is a rather bad media for a lecture. At least I was not able to decipher the blackboard or beamer writings in the background which are eventually an integral part that is needed to understand what lecturers are talking about. The resolution is too poor. Lectures without those notes are in most cases useless.

As an example, feel free to have an entertaining break with „Physics for presidents“ by Berkeley Prof. Richard A. Muller:

In contrast to that there is already a number of alternatives for students looking for high quality lectures on the net:

Lecturefox is also an interesting place to search at. It is in fact simply a nice list of interesting lectures from different universities, summed up at Among these are e.g. MIT, Caltech, Stanford and Harvard lectures, including lecture notes, podcasts and lecture videos as far as available in each case. One of my early favourites on that page is the MIT lecture „Philosophy and Quantum Mechanics“ from spring 2005.

This leads me to MIT OpenCoursware. A great project. Its self-description:

MIT is committed to advancing education and discovery through knowledge open to everyone. OCW shares free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1700 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum.

Princeton has also a list of lectures online for public. But I think that those don’t need to be taken too serious as they are more kind of „event lectures“ of famous professors than lectures that were really helpful for learning. Thus they are perhaps more a competitor to projects like the TED talks of people from a broad range of background talking about ideas to change the world.

Am I so focused on ivy-league universities or at least non-european universities? No, I am not. But maybe it is possible that only those or especially those have already understood and adopted the sense of an easy to find free knowledge sharing on a university level. This does not need to be an explanation of each researcher’s very private secrets. It means the availability of the best introductions to the basics of every field or every topic of research that are given throughout the world. I am not in the situation and I don’t have the insights of a lecturer. But wouldn’t that be also a chance and wouldn’t interchange of the ’state of the art‘ of such lecturegiving be a real help for lecturers themselves?

There are in fact a number of additional single lectures on the web. But they are spread over thousands of hidden institute sites. And I can well imagine that some of the authors even are not fully convinced that they want foreigners to find those lectures. At least this is my experience of some lectures and lecture notes, even of some really good ones. Is a real hardcover book competed by the uncommented, unspoken lecture? Shouldn’t it be that the lecture itself is still the best that a student can get? Yes, I know some lectures could be easily replaced by a book that in some cases is even a better teacher. But this is not the general situation and I would be very happy to see some courageous lecturers be the pioneers of an open minded thinking about their lecture closedness also in Germany.

I would be so happy to see it become reality that there is a kind of ’social networking‘, bundling the global wisdom, transbordering the universities‘ campus borders, that incorporates thousands of brilliant university lectures. And maybe this could become a next convincing Google-Lab project.

By the side: Is embedding youtube videos still a problem with the new version of the visual editor in the newly released WordPress 2.3? I have to try that. I did not yet upgrade due to the incompatibility with my favoured WordPress plugin SimpleTagging that I use to present the.

If you were searching for a point to start this typical „related videos“ surfing on YouTube for science videos, I’d suggest that you could try this one.