From one of the creators of Wikipedia comes a new resource for students and educators: A web-based directory of videos designed to be searchable, reliable, and conductive to better learning for all.
According to executive director Larry Sanger's blog, WatchKnow is "deliberately flying under the radar now, because we want to make a big first impression -- launch should be early this fall... I don't know if it will be 'the next big thing.' Considering how everybody's trying to make the next big thing, it seems unlikely. But I do hope it will be really useful to school kids, teachers, and parents."
The discovery process for finding truly useful, age-appropriate, and on-topic educational videos online can be time-consuming and painful. WatchNow's index is organized by topic and searchable, making discovery lightning fast and one-click simple. Although still "very beta," as we like to say of newer apps with great concepts but under-construction back ends, the site offers a world of potential for tutors, lesson-planning teachers, parents, and students alike.
The site focuses on aggregating and organizing rather than hosting videos. The stated goals include providing instant tutoring for students and fresh material for teachers. As the site states, Like it or not, school children in developed countries get a lot of their information from video and also from the Internet. You can complain, or you can deliver knowledge to where they spend their time." We wholeheartedly agree.
Searches on the site yield specific videos as well as topic categories, when applicable. Searches can also be run and results returned for YouTube and other video sites.
A toolbar feature allows users to add videos instantly from other video sites, YouTube in particular. The site also states, "It will also be possible to drag and drop videos into the Directory, making categorization as easy as possible. We think that the addition of these two tools will make WatchKnow unusually easy to edit."
Other types of media the site will collect include Flash animations, games, slide shows, and other software.
We would love to see the site implement recommendations for further reading and watching, and the UI definitely needs work. But the site is young, and being a collaborative, open project, we're sure that beta testers and other participants will help make the prodcut top-notch by the official launch date.