Thursday, June 21, 2007

On video lecture resources II

In a previous post I wrote about the benefits one can get from using and distributing video lecture courses. The main problem I saw with this was number and dispersion. There are many great video lectures on highly specialised subjects though there isn't a single repository where one can both find the source of the videos and also find the quality and suitability of a given recording. I spent a lot of time in Kyoto in the evenings watching the videos from a variety of sources and learnt a good deal from these hours back at the guest house.

The problem seems to have been partially solved, as pointed out by Coturnix from A blog around the clock.

SciTalks (not viewable in China without a proxy!) is a repository of video lectures where one can vote on the videos (having quickly registered). There are currently a few lectures on string theory, though I happen to know that there are many courses (usually covering 3-6 lectures) available online on the subject. I also know from my time spent in the States a couple of years back that there are several departments which run full year courses on string theory. I put out a plea here to put one of these on video and let those who are not lucky enough to be in a department where there are researchers able to run such an extensive course on the subject to see them. I can't imagine that in this age of vast data storage capabilities and ridiculous speeds of broadband that this would be difficult, so please help out those around the world who don't have the chance themselves.

MIT has an open source attitude to educational materials and there are some great video resources coming out of there, but it's not as extensive as it should be.

So, what can you do if you're not a lecturer and don't have access to a lecturer who can make such a video? Well, search the web for videos, watch them, register on Scitalks and link to them on the site in order to let others know what is worth watching. I'll supply a list of resources at the end of this post.

It would be great if you could vote for specific criteria for any video: level, sound quality, video quality, clarity of presentation, prerequisite knowledge etc. but such things don't seem to be available yet. I had grand plans of writing such an online database myself and may still do so if it looks like Scitalks will not be able to add such capabilities.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, I think that video lectures are a truly invaluable resource which should be taken advantage of. If possible, watch the lectures with other people and talk about what you see. I've done this with the theory students in the ITP here in Beijing and though the language was occasionally a problem we got some good discussions going on the subject of the holographic principle and black holes. Books are great, and cannot be replaced, but they can be supplemented by other media. I'd really be grateful for feedback and other people's opinion on this and especially I'd like to know if some of the great theory graduate courses in the US can be videoed and given to the rest of the world.

A small list of places to start finding videos to add:

Pacific Institute lecture courses
Perimeter Institute lectures (only viewable in IE)
Mathematical sciences research institute
ASTI lectures online
CERN videos
Spires sources
Serkan Cabi's extensive list

There are a few to get started. Please help to put these together so that grad students, young researchers and established professors can benefit from the wealth of material currently sitting in dark corners of theory group web spaces.

4 comments:

Blake Stacey said...

I tried submitting a link to Barton Zwiebach's "String Theory for Pedestrians" lectures, but the URL field in their form has a remarkably ungenerous length limit!

Blake Stacey said...

Also, your link to SciTalks.com is broken (it's a relative URL within your blog, not an absolute one to their domain).

Jonathan Shock said...

Thanks for the information and the link to Zwiebach's lecture. I'll get in contact with the people at SciTalks and see how easy the URL field length would be to change.

J

Jonathan Shock said...

Have e-mailed and am awaiting a response.