26 June 2007

Exploring New Technology 7: You Tube

You Tube, where you are encouraged to "broadcast yourself," is not all that new to me. I have been enjoying snippets of skateboarding, ballet, whatever, for a while. But it was this article in C&RL that helped me connect some dots.

As Paula Webb's article rightly points out, YouTube could radically change how we deliver information and instruction to our students. I have heard from many librarians that they would rather provide all library instruction to students via the library web page or college websites. Why? Imagine a 19 year old student putting Champlain College in as a search term in YouTube and a video on how to use the databases comes up. Perhaps that student might discard it at that moment. But perhaps they realize that the library is there the next time they have a question at 4 in the morning and they can't find an article. The chances of them going to YouTube sounds greater than their chances of going to the library homepage, if for no other reason than out of habit, no?

Or, let's look at the really creative folks out there, especially the folks at Common Craft. I've highlighted their amazing video on RSS, which I have shared with our IT folks who loved it. They also offer a great one on wikis.

Rock on Common Craft! Not only are these great explanations of technologies whose names are thrown about frequently, but they are explained in an understandable and enjoyable way. YES!

But to return to YouTube...Common Craft shows us that YouTube doesn't have to be institution specific. General information that is valuable to everyone, whether it be technology, plagiarism, citations, search techniques, readers advisery, copyright clues...it all could be valuable and useful on YouTube and reach any audience.

And let's not forget the web 2.0 applicability here: YouTube is interactive. Perhaps student interns can create something that appeals to their peers, something like this video from the Undergrad at UIUC:

Granted, it's kind of hokey but come on! Digital pics, downloading music to your Ipod, group study, open til 3 am, career services, writing center...this video is hokey but awesome and all inclusive! And when students look up UIUC on YouTube, there it is! And we can rest assured that with so many students in the video, they shared it with their friends, spreading the word to their "social network."

YouTube offers libraries an amazing opportunity to expand our message and our image beyond traditional boundaries. Even if we didn't have the time or technology to make videos of our own, including YouTube videos in our instruction and website seems like a great way to share resources and information in a way that mirrors students' use of the web. So we continue to not only do our jobs, acheive our mission, but we look cool too.

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