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Educational Video in 2011

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In last year’s Sourcebook, when I looked back upon 2009, I observed that we had reached the tipping point for educational online video, with a critical mass of schools, colleges, and universities integrating video into instruction, campus life, recruitment, and public engagement. Now, at the start of 2011, video in education has utterly ceased to be novel all by itself. Students visiting a college or university website expect videos to be featured throughout, highlighting recent campus events, notable faculty, or student achievements. In order to make a splash, an education video has to really stand out and compete with the best viral videos out there. 

Yale University made just such a splash at the start of 2010 with a catchy, nearly 17-minute musical extravaganza called “That’s Why I Chose Yale.” Cleverly tapping into the zeitgeist that has made TV’s Glee and the High School Musical movies so popular, Yale’s video is a sophisticated production employing real students and faculty joining in a production number that roves across campus with participants popping in to sing about why they chose this famous Ivy League school. Employing crane shots and intricate sets, the video’s high production values are all the more impressive given that it was written and produced entirely by students and recent alumni. And by education standards, I think we can say it went successfully viral, racking up more than 800,000 views by year’s end.

While viral success stories bring attention to educational video, we should not judge the progress of this sector only by their proliferation. Of course, we can chart other numbers, like how many schools are on iTunes and YouTube.edu or how many more adopted online video platforms in the last year. Those are certainly statistics I’ve cited in my past year-end reviews. But now it seems more useful to chart how many schools are not using video in some sort of public way. That’s how much more ubiquitous video has become in the education world.

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