20.000 academic talks enhanced by Machine Translations and Transcriptions
VideoLectures was born in 2001 as an internally-funded project at the Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia. The pilot project involved videoing the weekly Solomon Lectures held at the institute – regular lectures open to the public on artificial intelligence and general computer science topics. These were made available online in an attempt to enable students and researchers around the world to become part of a global audience. These initial experiments were so successful that the team behind VideoLectures began to collaborate with a series of European projects. One of the first and main contributors (both financially and in terms of lectures) was PASCAL, helping VideoLectures to grow rapidly. PASCAL’s many workshops and links to major conferences contributed several hundred new lectures for the site (three times more than from any other project) providing a valuable resource for PASCAL researchers.
Soon the use of increasingly advanced video streaming technology made VideoLectures the collaborator of choice for many. As VideoLectures was seen to provide quality recordings for existing projects, the team were increasingly approached to become involved with new projects. Over the next few years, VideoLectures.Net joined forces with a series of Framework 5, 6 and 7 projects. The team also approached major conferences and events and recorded them in full. Such extensive involvement with so many projects quickly transformed the online resource into a truly global phenomenon covering an impressive range of topics. VideoLectures is now run by the dedicated Center for Transfer in Information Technologies at the Jozef Stefan Institute, led by Mitja Jermol since 2003. Enabled by a move to the Django web toolkit in early 2007, PowerPoint slides now appear next to the video, timed to change as the video plays. Talks on similar topics are linked. Viewers can comment on the lectures, leading to online discussions about the material. The number of downloads are listed, and lectures are ranked according to their popularity.
These innovations have created a real change to the style and quality of presentations being made by academics. “People check their ratings and ask themselves why someone less famous than they are is getting more downloads,” says Jermol. “This encourages them to improve their style.” As the technology improves and is made increasingly consistent over all operating systems and browsers, the number of visits from people across the world increases (see map). Feedback from viewers is also excellent, with complimentary comments from as far afield as Africa and Australia. Today VideoLectures.Net is one of the leading web-based educational portals of its kind. It has now been recognised by the 2013 World Summit Award for being one of the most outstanding examples of creative and innovative e-Content in the world in the last decade.
In 2013 another recognition came, this time the WSA Online Jury evaluated 200 WSA winners from the last decade and selected what they consider to be the 8 all-time bests: the WSIS+10 Global Champions. VideoLectures.Net was selected as the winner in the “e- Science & Technology” category.
The World Summit Award (WSA) is a part of the United Nations Summit on the Information Society. It represents a unique global competition for the recognition of best e-Content and global creativity. It is a global not-for-profit activity promoting the most outstanding achievements as a flagship partnership initiative of the UN’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development and in close collaboration with UNESCO, UNIDO, ISOC and a world wide network of partners.
These two recognitions and our work and research in Open Education and Open Software were a pre-text in discussing and realising the unique partnership with UNESCO via establishing the Chair on Open Technologies for OER and Open Learning.