Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses

By Taylor Walsh | Go to book overview

6
A GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE:
WEBCAST.BERKELEY

When UC Berkeley professor Lawrence A. Rowe began webcasting his courses in the 1990s, his intention was not to create a university-wide digital dissemination effort. But what began as a proof-of-concept for an individual professor’s research interests in internet video has since evolved into webcast. berkeley, a campus-based initiative offering audio or video recordings of nearly 550 courses by the spring of 2010.

Berkeley has undertaken the webcast initiative almost entirely without the aid of external funding from foundations or other partners. The initiative has a tight budget and small staff but strong ambitions to achieve scale, resulting in a production process focused on efficiency. webcast.berkeley’s content offerings consist of simple audio and video recordings of Berkeley professors’ classroom lectures, using minimal equipment and automatic capture techniques with limited editing. The project’s initial goal was to use technology to benefit the university’s enrolled students. Today webcast.berkeley’s site is visited by users from all over the world, but it remains a student service first and a public service second.


Origins and Development of webcast.berkeley

The origins of webcast.berkeley can be traced back to 1995, when Rowe began webcasting a single course: his own. A technologist and the head of the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center (BMRC), Rowe had an academic interest in incorporating video into user interfaces and applications, and he began experimenting in that

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