Academic Earth aims to give everyone on earth open access to a world-class education. They have built a ‘user-friendly educational ecosystem’ that allows internet users all around the globe to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.
The interface is slick, the content high quality and the open source platform an excellent initiative. The site, now in Beta version, is expected to launch by the beginning of April with an onslaught of new features being added over the next six months according to Academic Earth’s CEO and founder Richard Ludlow in an article on the Bivings Report.
Our goal is to bring the best content together in one place and create an environment that in which that content is remarkably easy to use and in which user contributions make existing content increasingly valuable.
User feedback is paramount to the usability and functionality of this resource. Academic Earth is developing a ‘social network’ around the lecture content to allow users to interact with professors and other students, make suggestions and complaints, and organize their own course load. The website received 100,000 visitors in its first 16 days, and has already responded to initial user feedback by creating shorter and more digestible lecture content, dividing the longer lectures into a series of posts.
Currently Academic Earth has collated over fifteen hundred videos from MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale and hopes to include content from schools in the United Kingdom and other international universities to increase diversity and provide foreign language content. Subjects currently available include Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, English, Entrepreneurship, History, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology and Religion.
Lecture content for each subject is often grouped into courses, which each contain anywhere from 4 to 50 lectures and in many cases can be downloaded to iPod in a Quicktime version. Each lecture or lecture series provides an overview of the lecture, course description and related resources such as powerpoint slides, citation information and transcripts. The quality of the sound and image for the majority of videos is excellent and the related resources add a bonus dimension.
To get the most from the Academic Earth experience it is best to create a profile. This allows you to add videos to ‘favorites’; provide feedback; rate lectures and be part of the site development.
As more and more high quality educational content becomes available online for free, we ask ourselves, what are the real barriers to achieving a world class education? We invite those who share our passion to explore our website, participate in our online community, and help us continue to find new ways to make learning easier for everyone – Academic Earth