With tens of thousands of free videos in English, Spanish and Chinese that cover a wide variety of subjects for ages 3 to 18 they have provided over 21 million views as a validation of their quality.
The Vision behind WatchKnowLearn is simple:
Free educational videos delivered over the Internet. Viewed any time, from anywhere.
We believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to learn. The best way to make this possible, we believe, is to organize into one, super directory the hundreds of thousands of good videos currently available on the Internet. To make this a reality, we invite teachers, instructors and educators to suggest videos for inclusion into our directory, and then to review, approve, and assign those videos into appropriate categories using a wiki framework and philosophy. The videos are the highest quality found on the World Wide Web, cover all major educational topics from elementary to secondary schools (or age range 1 – 18), and are Kid Safe!
WatchKnowLearn has indexed over 33,000+ educational videos, placing them into a directory of over 3,000 categories. The videos are available without any registration or fees to teachers in the classroom and to students at home 24/7. Users can dive into our innovative directory or search for videos by subject and age level. Video titles, descriptions, age level information, and ratings are all edited for usefulness. Our Web site invites broad participation in a new kind of wiki system, guided by teachers. We have had a tremendously positive response from educators to the website. If we continue to work together, we can create an incredible, free, educational resource for students across the world.
WatchKnowLearn has additional plans.
- Imagine, cataloguing and creating tens of thousands of excellent, short videos, so that a teacher or student can quickly and easily find a top-quality educational video on absolutely any topic.
- We are beginning a localization project to develop a version of WatchKnowLearn with Spanish-language navigation. The educational videos will be primarily in English, but language-localization will make the Web site accessible to non-English speaking users. Other languages will follow shortly after the launch of the Spanish version.
- Because we also believe it is important to give everyone a boost in learning, especially from the earliest years, we are presently sponsoring early childhood reading in daycare centers in a number of communities. WatchKnowLearn is also sponsoring a study of the effects of this program. Dr. Larry Sanger, best known as co-founder of Wikipedia, is drawing on his experience with online encyclopedias to plan an innovative multimedia encyclopedia for early childhood.
- Finally, WatchKnowLearn is in the start-up phase of a program to enlist top-tier private and public schools to capture their classrooms on video. The videos will then be hosted free of charge by WatchKnowLearn.
WatchKnowLearn is a program of the non-profit 501(c)(3) Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, and is directed by Dr. Joe Thomas (available at Joe@watchknow.org). WatchKnowLearn has a dedicated team of editors who provide oversight of the videos recommended by our diverse user population. Our editors are teachers and educational professionals who have spent many years studying their respective fields of interest. Many of our editors are award-winning teachers in their respective states and school districts. All of our editors possess a strong commitment to providing the highest quality of education to our users. We have a Media Review Panel that currently numbers around 400 members. Most Panel members are experienced schoolteachers, but there are others who are experts in educational media or library science. The Panel members serve as community moderators and participate in discussions about general project policy.
In 2007 and 2008, a Memphis-area philanthropist began conversations with his local network, and especially the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi and its president, Tom Pittman. Eventually, they tapped Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, Ph.D. to plan a new, non-profit educational video service. Dr. Sanger became Executive Director of the project, directing the development of the new system from 2009 through 2010. As a Ph.D. philosopher and internationally-recognized “online knowledge organizer,” Dr. Sanger was ideally suited to lead the WatchKnowLearn team as it developed its position among other knowledge-related projects because of his successful experience with both Wikipedia and Citizendium.
In the fall of 2008, Phase 1 of the coding of the project was done, and there was a quiet “beta launch.” This version of the system underwent a very rigorous evaluation, and much was learned from it. Rather than launch what was only a rough version of the planned Web site, the WatchKnowLearn team decided to defer launch until after Phase 2 was finished.
Also in mid-2009, many teachers, and some librarians, were hired to add videos and edit the Directory. Their work in particular—adding over 10,000 videos—has led to some very positive early “buzz” in the blogosphere and on Twitter from teachers and Ed Tech people. By spring 2010, WatchKnowLearn.org could boast over 15,000 hand-selected videos, with hand-edited information, in over 3,000 categories.
In the summer of 2010, with the design and development of the original concept of WatchKnowLearn complete, Dr. Sanger stepped aside as Executive Director to begin development of several special projects. WatchKnowLearn reorganized to meet its growth and business needs, inviting Joe Thomas, Ph.D. to head the organization as its new CEO. Joe’s work as an organizational psychologist at FedEx and NIKE with teaching assignments at various universities, and as CLO and COO at Orgwide Services, provided WatchKnowLearn both an educational and business framework upon which to continue building the organization. By the fall of 2010, WatchKnowLearn had exceeded 20,000 videos in its directory, had partnered with and added 300 additional volunteers from the Digital Opportunity Trust organization, and had hired four additional, part-time editors. Business Edge Services & Technologies continues to provide superior web development and programming services, plus hosting for the WatchKnowLearn.org website.
Our Advisory Committee includes:
- Alan Haskvitz (award-winning school teacher and blogger)
- Bob Hoffman (San Diego State)
- Chareen Snelson (Boise State)
- Chris Dede (Harvard)
- David Wiley (Brigham Young and opencontent.org)
- Jack Koumi (leading educational video expert and consultant)
- Larry Lessig (Stanford and Creative Commons)
- Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium)
- Tom Pittman (Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi)
- Trey Martindale (University of Memphis)
The Advisory Committee publicly supports and offers advice about the project.
We hope that students, parents, teachers, librarians, and everyone interested in the education of children will use and help further build this system. While we have launched with thousands of videos in thousands of categories, there are many more out there to be found.