The Khan Academy gets a lot of deservedly favorable attention for its breadth and depth of online video instruction. But there’s another, similar site that I think deserves applause for quality, authoritative online video instruction. It also happens to be a freebie.
It’s called WatchKnowLearn.org and it’s being developed for K-12 students and educators.
While I don’t fit directly into either of those categories I like to think of myself as a “lifelong learner” and for that reason WatchKnowLearn has become an essential reference tool for me, perfect for a quick knowledge “tune-up,” learning about something new, or even for a bit of reminiscing about my days watching Saturday morning cartoons (remember when cartoons weren’t 24/7?) with a animated version of a well-known fable.
WatchKnowLearn includes information and direct links about more than 32,000 “educational” videos from disparate sources around the web. The selection and curation is done by editors, many of them educators and education professionals like school librarians. WatchKnowLearn also has a media review panel consisting of several hundred members.
With so much video material out there (and much more to come), the focus at WatchKnowLearn is quality over quantity. Having experts reviewing and adding metadata to each entry is not only useful especially when it comes to educational material but also a major time saver.
Searching & Browsing
Searching the database is simple, as you might expect it to be. Since all videos include appropriate age-specific metadata you can limit your search from the outset for kids of a particular age using a slider found to the left of any search box.
All entries also include subject info that is hyperlinked so you can quickly review other videos within that subject.
While searching works well, for me the browse tool is not only useful but also makes discovery fun. Score one for serendipity.
The directory is organized hierarchically with top-level subjects including mathematics, language arts and life skills. Selecting any of them reveals many subcategories.
A Bit Of WatchKnowLearn History
Jimmy Wales is the well-known co-founder and face of Wikipedia. The force behind WatchKnowLearn happens to be the lesser-heralded co-founder of Wikipedia, Dr. Larry Sanger (he left the project several years ago). He also founded another crowd-sourced encyclopedia project, Citizendium. Dr. Sanger has led the development of WatchKnowLearn from about 2007-2010. Funding comes from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi.
A Few More Facts About WatchKnowLearn
- Most videos in English but Spanish and Chinese language interfaces are being developed and are now accessible on the site.
- Educators can create “ classrooms” to help organize video collections specifically related to the needs of their students.
- Nearly 16 million videos have been viewed via the WatchKnowLearn database.
Now, go forth and explore WatchKnowLearn and make sure to share this valuable learning resource with friends, family and colleagues.