What if classrooms had an open API where parties outside and in could create mashups? What if students could learn at their own pace, but still gather together with others to study in groups that transcend age, ethnicity, gender and nationality? If you can believe it, it’s happening today. This brave new world of learning is being shaped by disparate parties with no apparent connection and often competing goals. It’s a world of constant churn where innovation and ideas make maddening leaps and the connections between people appear out of thin air, and disappear just as quickly. It’s a world where ideas and innovations fail regularly, but are replaced by hundreds of new ideas.
YouTube Social is one such idea. It’s a mashup put together by a group of people who thought it might be nice to watch videos on YouTube with a group of people, sharing a “virtual” remote and a “live” chat room. It’s doubtful they thought two licks about learning, or education, but because of the footprint of YouTube, the readily available, and constantly expanding, educational content, and our ancient social wiring they’ve made a tool that could serve education well. It’s easy to imagine this being used by a teacher / mentor as a discussion and review tool, or by groups of students gathering together online in informal study groups. Now, I have no idea if YouTube Social is going to achieve any substantial amount of active use, but it represents some very interesting ideas about how the web-video experience can be pushed beyond isolated, passive consumption. It’s a pretty compelling idea, err classroom, don’t you think?