Any person with access to the World Wide Web can have a peek into life on campus by visiting the Tulane University YouTube channel that carries video footage of the university's prominent speakers, panel discussions and academic presentations.
YouTube is a popular video-sharing website that allows people to upload short videos available for public viewing.
The university's Innovative Learning Center within the Office of Technology Services oversees updates to the Tulane Channel. University channels on YouTube have increased capabilities from the bandwidth available to individuals, says Derek Toten, director of instructional media.
"We are involved through a new YouTube program. YouTube has invited universities to create channels with longer video clips and greater design latitude than the regular user site," Toten says.
Tulane joined the YouTube phenomenon in December 2007 on the heels of the popular CNN/YouTube presidential debate held a month earlier. Pundits called the debate the "most democratic" in history as it allowed everyday people to submit video-recorded questions via YouTube. The videos were then played for the candidates during the televised debate.
"From the outside, others can see the types of people Tulane can attract as speakers," says Toten. "Viewers will see the full range of intellectual activity that's occurring on our campus."
Toten says that his office has about 10 years of video files, from which highlights have been selected for inclusion on the Tulane channel. With close to 60 videos currently available for view and more being added, the office is now ready to put the word out about the site.
"It's really a great resource that has expanded to include a channel by the admission office and a digital stories channel that developed from a workshop we hosted," says Toten. "Until now, we haven't really publicized the site, but we want to let people know that they can subscribe and be alerted whenever new videos are added."
Although a subscription isn't necessary to view the videos, subscribing to the YouTube channel is free. It requires the creation of a YouTube password and user name. Toten says the process is noninvasive, and e-mail alerts will only be sent when new material is added. Technology services' aim is to add at least one new clip per week, although speaker schedules and production limitations may mean less frequent updates.
Even without having publicized the channel, some videos have proven to be of interest to many YouTubers.
Ellen Degeneres' 2006 Tulane commencement ceremony appearance is among the top-viewed videos on the channel. Aside from "most viewed," videos are also categorized by "most discussed," which is determined by the number of comments left about the videos.
"Of course Ellen is going to have a lot of hits because people like her and it's funny and entertaining," says Toten. "What surprises me is that the third most viewed video is an academic discussion about avant-garde musicians, which you would expect to appeal to a very specific group. I'll bet that the people watching are a wide audience that includes not just Tulane-affiliated individuals, but also people from around the world."