Jiva Technology

Academic Earth – a challenge for open education?

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the University of the People another startup with similar goals has been getting its share of publicity.

Academic Earth (these guys certainly like the grand names!) is a startup coming out of the US that pulls together open courseware from  a number of top universities and displays them according to topic with the option to comment and converse around the videos.

So far so good, however Academic Earth is a business and as such has commercial aims for its site which is pretty firmly against the Creative Commons terms that some (not all) of these videos have been released under and some of the institutions involved are unlikely to sit back and allow their content to be reused in this manner.

This is likely to be an interesting test case as I think alot of people are eyeing the increasingly high quality education audio and video content coming out of universities like MIT, Stanford, the Open University etc and wondering how they can spin a money making opportunity out of this increased open attitude.

It would be a pity if these academics started to retreat into their ivory towers if they felt their content was being misused but it also opens up the possibility of a consortium of universities with strong open access models pooling their resources and building their own web based repository of content with community elements.  That would likely shake this space up quite considerably.

To be fair to the team at Academic Earth they seem fully aware of the tightrope they are walking and are trying to work with the institutions so as not to step on anyones toes while still retaining a business model.  I think it will be quite the achievement if they pull this off!

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