MeFi U June 29, 2010 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Would anyone be interested in creating a Metafilter University? What I mean is a series of courses (or they could be short, TED-like lectures) specially geared towards Metafilter members? By which I mean they'd be more than just videos posted to YouTube. There would be some way for members to interact with the lecturer (and other members) about the course.

I'm sort of thinking of this as a push version of AskMe. (Rather than wait for someone to ask a question, you can lecture about something that you know about and feel others might be interested in.) Someone tried this on Reddit recently (a computer-programming course), and it was wildly successful.

I'm not sure what the state-of-the-art is re free online training tools these days. Is there an affordable (e.g. free or VERY cheap) way to do live training sessions? Is there a good way to set up chat rooms and forums around YouTube videos or podcasts?

I hope what I'm suggesting makes sense. Interesting/useful idea? Yes? No?
posted by grumblebee to MetaFilter-Related at 2:20 PM (176 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

I have a vague feeling this has been discussed before. But I couldn't find anything. If you know of an older thread, please link to it.
posted by grumblebee at 2:21 PM on June 29, 2010


Who would like to teach, what subject is it, and what are their qualifications (does not have to rigorous academia)?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on June 29, 2010


Who would like to teach, what subject is it, and what are their qualifications (does not have to rigorous academia)?

Those are very good questions. As the guy who posted this, I don't want to weigh in with my opinions yet. But I think those are EXACTLY what should be discussed. (As well as practical matters, such as how we'd deliver courses online).
posted by grumblebee at 2:30 PM on June 29, 2010


MetaFilter University Online now offers the following courses:
- Internet 205: Trolling
- International Politics 400: IP Controversies (Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, or Intellectual Property depending on lecturer)
- Librarianship 101: Intro to Librarianing
- Internet 204: Snark
- English 202: Homonyms and apostrophes
- Anthropology 302: Hipsters
posted by ODiV at 2:31 PM on June 29, 2010 [35 favorites]


Omitting the TED-like facet, this is, at least in the theoretical stage, a spiffy idea, whether or not it happens on the MeFi platform proper. Then again, my enthusiasm could be because I would have absolutely nothing to present that someone else could not do better, thus making my contribution to everything fairly simple to accomplish.
posted by adipocere at 2:31 PM on June 29, 2010


There was discussion about doing this in book form. They are/were going to call it "Fixed That For You."
posted by cjorgensen at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what the state-of-the-art is re free online training tools these days. Is there an affordable (e.g. free or VERY cheap) way to do live training sessions? Is there a good way to set up chat rooms and forums around YouTube videos or podcasts?

IRC is a better medium for live classes than you might think and I would pick it over any kind of audio- or video-based solution any day.
posted by enn at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have absolutely nothing to present that someone else could not do better

I'm sure there's something you could do. If everyone thought this way then nothing would happen.
posted by ODiV at 2:38 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could we lecture about something we don't know about?
posted by longsleeves at 2:48 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Machine Shop 501: Fixed That For You
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on June 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Will there be one about magnets? I've always kind of wondered how they work.
posted by oulipian at 2:57 PM on June 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


I like this idea. In my universe, the only "credentials" would be what the instructor wanted to present as credentials. Rigorous academic requirements seem superfluous and unnecessary. Are you interested in actual lecture format? Roundtable discussions? A video of user talking for twenty minutes about topic (like TED?)

When it was my turn to "lecture" as a TA in college, I picked a topic, handed out some relevant blurbs and tried to encourage a conversation. Metafilter seems to work as an extended conversation where one person's knowledge builds on and expands upon the previous poster.
That being said I would be interested in lectures too.

I guess a really simple test ground might be something similar to the online book club, but with a non-fiction book or set of books, maybe modeled around a specific "lecture" topic. I'm just thinking of possibilities... I'm curious how others imagine this looking.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 3:02 PM on June 29, 2010


i think there was a previous discussion of this. Maybe in a thread about an online group in NYC that was organizing barter for this sort of thing? Eg I'll swap you a place in my cheesemaking class for three lectures on Shakespeare.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:02 PM on June 29, 2010


Could we lecture about something we don't know about?

Yes. Exclusively.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:03 PM on June 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Advanced Culinary Arts: Taters and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
posted by gursky at 3:06 PM on June 29, 2010


Will I be allowed to teach a film class concentrating on movies I've never seen?
posted by griphus at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2010


- Interdisciplinary 199, Hipster Librarians' Apostrophes
posted by Wolfdog at 3:12 PM on June 29, 2010


Internet Studies 888: HOW TO HATE EVERYONE ON METAFILTER EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY WITH A SEETHING ANGER THAT BURNS LIKE FIRES OF HADES.

Instructor: eyeballkid.

Prerequisites:
* Internet 204: Snark
* Cult Threads 1124 and 9622
* Memes 103: Oolong/Pancake Balancing
* Technology 302: Hating on Mac Users.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:12 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am an expert on circumcision and cat declawing.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:26 PM on June 29, 2010


I like this idea. In my universe, the only "credentials" would be what the instructor wanted to present as credentials.

That's my thought, too. It's not like it would be for real college credit or anything. If I wanted to teach a course (or give a lecture) on The Civil War, you could choose to accept me as an expert or not. The same thing happens in AskMe.

I could teach a Flash Programming course, a Photoshop course, and a Shakespeare course. Others could, I'm sure, teach those same things. I'm guessing there are people here who could teach guitar, various languages, cooking, etc.
posted by grumblebee at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2010


I guess a really simple test ground might be something similar to the online book club

I got the idea from the MeFi book club (and the Reddit programming class).
posted by grumblebee at 3:28 PM on June 29, 2010


I am an expert on circumcision and cat declawing.

An expert enough to combine the two into a single class?
posted by griphus at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw, I was thinking this was classes about MetaFilter. I was already putting together my syllabus for 'So You Want To Be A Lowlevel Member Who Doesn't Really Do All That Much But Make Silly Jokes Most Of The Time'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:35 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


* North American Agriculture 322: "NomNom Bacon Under Threat By .2% Vegan Population"
* Drama [cross-referenced with Intellectual Property Law Survey for Non-Law-practitioners]
posted by applemeat at 3:35 PM on June 29, 2010


MetaFilter: does not have to rigorous academia
posted by Sys Rq at 3:37 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love the idea in theory, but can see it going the way of TravelFilter. The whole thing just smacks of (too much) effort.
posted by Ufez Jones at 3:38 PM on June 29, 2010


An expert enough to combine the two into a single class?

Sure, chopping off foreskins and cat knuckles are similar enough, I should be able to cover both in one ten-minute video (and still have time for a bonus seminar on vaccination)!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:40 PM on June 29, 2010


Actually, the image I had in my head was a mohel reaching into one of those old doctors' bags and retrieving out an angry cat by the tail, much like a stage magician with a top hat and a rabbit.
posted by griphus at 3:43 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love the idea in theory, but can see it going the way of TravelFilter. The whole thing just smacks of (too much) effort.

Maybe it is. I'm wondering if there's a ready-made solution out there somewhere. In other words, could I kick this off by running a class (or just a single lecture) and announcing it on projects?

By ready-made, I mean is there a way I could record videos, post them, and hold a MODERATED (I would be willing to moderate for my own class) discussion?

I'm thinking live training would be way to costly (live streaming is expensive), but what about something like google wave linked to youtube videos? Is that a good solution? Is there a better solution?
posted by grumblebee at 3:46 PM on June 29, 2010


Like a distributed TEDxMeFi? (about TEDx) Also similar to IgniteMeFi (about Ignite)?

Or more like, OpenCourseware, but with short videos?

I swear there's a web startup that was like "teachaclass" or something. Sounds maybe like that.
posted by artlung at 3:49 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think youtube video lectures would be awesome. Just post the vid and follow up in the thread.

I'm thinking though, that if these are serious lectures that they could possibly be posted to Projects and participated in in the following thread of comments.

(just thinking out loud...I like the idea.)
posted by snsranch at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2010


Metafilter should become a diploma mill. We could work toward our Doctorates of Internet Discourse by accumulating favorites.
posted by amyms at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Linguistics 1410: The Alphabet Thread
Prof. N_o_d. 0.5 credits.
(Spring, M, W, F, 3:00-5:00 PM. Prerequisites: none; Surrealism 453, Lobsters and Stained Lederhosen is helpful. Limit: 16 students. Instructor will be naked.)


In this seminar, we will examine the Alphabet Thread in MetaTalk -- its origins, meanings in society, and most importantly, the "Zamboni." We will look at how Alphabet Threads are started, what common themes are employed, who its detractors are. Students will be encouraged to explore the alphabet -- not just the characters in English, but also Unicode Characters that can be used with pizazz. Each student will, by the end of the semester, find a contentious MetaTalk thread, start, and maintain their own Alphabet Thread.
posted by not_on_display at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2010


I would be so down for video lessons on cooking all the awesome recipes posted. (Not because I don't know how to follow recipes, but because cooking videos crack me up.)
posted by elizardbits at 4:03 PM on June 29, 2010


I would be so down for video lessons on cooking all the awesome recipes posted. (Not because I don't know how to follow recipes, but because cooking videos crack me up.)

Just for you, I will practice my Swedish Chef impression!




Börk, börk, börk!
posted by zarq at 4:10 PM on June 29, 2010


I think youtube video lectures would be awesome. Just post the vid and follow up in the thread.

I'm thinking though, that if these are serious lectures that they could possibly be posted to Projects and participated in in the following thread of comments.


I'm not sure, but I suspect this isn't what Projects is for. I mean, it IS for posting a project, but I don't think it's for lengthy, ongoing discussions. For one thing, if I was, say, teaching a guitar class (ha!), I would want to moderate the discussion. I certainly wouldn't expect the official MeFi mods to do it, but they'd have to if we discussed in Projects.

I think the Projects discussion would be better suited for comments like, "Nice class, but could you move the mic a little closer to your mouth? It's hard to hear you" than course questions and whatnot.
posted by grumblebee at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2010


Will there be merit badges? ;) This idea does sound interesting but would the lecturer have to provide their credentials or at least some history of their experience in the subject? I don't know I sort of picture this like every legal and medical questions where people totally talk out of their ass and it sounds plausible until a real lawyer/doctor comes in and tears their hair out trying to set the poster straight.

Meanwhile, a class on how to talk out of your ass could be cool...
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2010


but would the lecturer have to provide their credentials or at least some history of their experience in the subject?

I am open to discussion on this point. If it were just up to me, it would be pretty open to anyone, credentialed or not. It would be a sort of free-market thing (thought without money). If I teach bee-keeping, and you think I'm full of shit, say so in the comments or just don't watch my videos.

Maybe there could be a ratings system.
posted by grumblebee at 4:15 PM on June 29, 2010


Will there be merit badges?

No, but there would be bathroom passes and permission slips for field trips.
posted by grumblebee at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2010


Intermediate Culinary Arts: beans, the effective, elegant, and nutritious plating of.

In seriousness, I would love to teach mefi sock knitting, lace blocking, and some cooking.

I would most appreciate taking a class called, 'the care and feeding of your bicycle,' because I will have a bike again someday. And when I get one, I want to know how to tune it, clean it, tighten the brakes, and replace the tubes.
posted by bilabial at 4:18 PM on June 29, 2010


I'm not sure, but I suspect this isn't what Projects is for. You're absolutely right, grumblebee. I'm trying to imagine what a test version might be like within our subsites. I don't think Matt or the Mods are going to buy into anything like this without seeing some evidence of it's viability.

That said...I LOVE the ideas about teaching culinary stuff. I would watch every single one!
posted by snsranch at 4:31 PM on June 29, 2010


JONMC HOUUUUUUUSE!!!!!
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:31 PM on June 29, 2010


We could combine the ratings with the best answer ratio!

Teach+Best answer+???=profit!

I'll get my coat
posted by arcticseal at 4:37 PM on June 29, 2010


Trade School is the New York City based knowledge bartering school I mentioned above.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to imagine what a test version might be like within our subsites.

I'm thinking this would only have a loose affiliation with metafilter. New classes would be announced on Projects, but to take the class, you'd go off site to a moderated (by the teacher) forum at.... WHERE?

Is there a way, using something like wave or google groups, that I could set up a forum where each person could moderate his own thread?

So, like, the forum would be called MeFiClasses, but there would be individual threads called Javascript, Southern Cuisine, etc. And each thread could be moderated by whoever started it.

Does such a forum exist?
posted by grumblebee at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2010


'You can't replace me, I've got tenurl!'

From Chapter 5: Portmanbonmoteau
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:43 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Natalieportmanteau
posted by oulipian at 4:47 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have many ideas. I have an automotive series in mind.

1. Diagnosing automotive starting systems, charging systems, and battery basics.
2. How your Check Engine Light works.
3. Primary automotive maintenance. Brakes, oil changes, tune ups.
4. Electrical troubleshooting.
5. Basic Safety Inspection.


If you're a Mefite in Philadelphia with a Honda, Toyota, or VW vehicle (I think the most common Mefite Cars) and have a video camera, editing skills, car problems, and just want to pay for parts, we can get together on a weekend, sneak into my shop, and film it all in a day. You film and edit and get your car fixed at cost. How's that sound?
posted by Jon-o at 4:50 PM on June 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


joking aside, I think this is a great idea; there are tonnes of mefites with engaging styles and deep knowledge on interesting topics that could contribute something really cool. As hosted podcast could work really well too.
posted by smoke at 4:51 PM on June 29, 2010


Jon-o, I have no idea why, because I don't own a car and have no plans to ever own one, but I'd be really interested in that course.
posted by grumblebee at 4:52 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, if it's going to be compared to TED, then we must call it MAT (which can stand for Metafilter Alternative Tutorials or some such)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:52 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh c'mon at least make it MATT! MeFi Alt Teaching Tutorials. Umm yeah. Paging department of redundancy department!
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:21 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Voicethread may actually work really well as a tool if we wanted to have as much as possible in one location (basically lets you do presentations and then have people leave text or voice comments).

Moodle is open source for discussions, etc; but it has to be hosted somewhere.
posted by ejaned8 at 5:39 PM on June 29, 2010


Voicethread looks pretty cool, but...

The Manager costs $99 / year with 1 Pro account and 50 Basic accounts.

If this is going to be cost-effective (for a community as large as MeFi), it's going to have to be based on something like a google or yahoo product -- one of those companies that give away endless amounts of free storage space and bandwidth and make all their movie via advertising.

YouTube is PERFECT for the videos. We just need a way to link to them from something more orderly for discussion than YouTube's chaotic commenting system.
posted by grumblebee at 5:54 PM on June 29, 2010


Is there a way, using something like wave or google groups, that I could set up a forum where each person could moderate his own thread?

I think you're getting ahead of yourself and worrying about the technical solutions before sorting out the social aspects.

You need to get a teacher or preferably three and who are ready, willing and able to teach within the next month or so. During that time, you can figure out the technical details, which should be comparatively easier. I'd suggest a lesson be under 10 minutes, for easy posting to YouTube*.

But to get back to your question, isn't there a multi user version of Wordpress? Barring that, would a Google blog suffice? Remember, it doesn't have to be anything state of the art, that's the least important thing. You need good teachers, with a passion and knowledge of their subject who some sort of video recording capability and the know how to upload it to YouTube. Get that and everything else will fall into place.

* This could be a bonus, can you imagine someone explaining particle physics or Shakespeare in 10 minutes or less? Who doesn't have 10 minutes to spare? The time limit provides a tight focus.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


* This could be a bonus, can you imagine someone explaining particle physics or Shakespeare in 10 minutes or less? Who doesn't have 10 minutes to spare? The time limit provides a tight focus.

That time-limit is the stroke of genius behind the TED talks.

As for the three teachers, I know I'm the one who started this thread, but I'm one willing person. We need two and three. And we DO need to figure out the technical stuff at some point.
posted by grumblebee at 6:07 PM on June 29, 2010


Would anyone be interested in creating a Metafilter University?

Can I form the fraternity? MeFi Tappa kegga Day or something? I drink a lotta beer and have about 30 (no joke) versions of Louie Louie in my collections, so I'll be happy to be our Bluto.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason I went for MAT instead of MATT is the spelling of "mathowie" which sets him apart from other Matts, so nobody would think it was referring to Groening, Damon, Drudge, Mullenweg, Lauer, Cutts, Smith (Who?), LeBlanc, Taibbi, Besser, Deegan (matt on twitter), Wright, Harding (wherethehell?), Hardy, Fraction, Welch, Dillon, Leinart, Bors, Morris, Mitrione, Frewer, Stone, Monro, the Traveling Fraggle or anyone better known as Matthew (Fox, Good, Yglesias or GospelOf)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:16 PM on June 29, 2010


I think Google Wave might be viable for something like this. Just post a Youtube video at the top and have the discussion underneath. I think it's open signup now too, iirc.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:16 PM on June 29, 2010


Can one moderate on Wave?
posted by grumblebee at 7:21 PM on June 29, 2010


I might be willing to join Jon-O on some mechanical stuff, though I think he's a pro and I'm a shade-tree guy. I've been thinking about doing this on youtube anyway.
posted by maxwelton at 7:24 PM on June 29, 2010


Couldn't you just start a blog? Wordpress handles big groups of users and adminstration of comments and you can just inline link youtube or whatever. People spouting off about stuff they may or may not actually know anything about is basically what blogging is after all.

I think you're trying to make this too hard. Start a blog, see if it takes off. If it grows too big worry about it from there.
posted by shelleycat at 7:32 PM on June 29, 2010


So "I would definitely subscribe to your newsletter" becomes "take your course?"

Maybe it's because I teach for a living, but explain why people are going to want to do this (over time, anyway) for free?

YouTube is already full of hit or miss tutorial videos. How is this different? 10 minutes provides for plenty of focus alright, but precious little substantive content that couldn't just as easily be conveyed in mefi's written format (which stands apart for its reliance on good writing when the web is already so visual and frenetic).

Just playing devil's advocate.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:40 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




If this goes through, I have the following subjects covered: plastic army men and Berni Wrightson's comic book art.

Looking forward to jonmc's drunken lecture on "Louie Louie."
posted by marxchivist at 7:45 PM on June 29, 2010


All good questions, fourcheesemac. I'll try to tackle each one.

Maybe it's because I teach for a living, but explain why people are going to want to do this (over time, anyway) for free?

At various times in my life I've also taught for a living, and I'm considering returning to it full time. I love doing it. The best answer to why people would teach for free is because they would. Not all people, but some. Teaching-for-free has become popular on the web. See this, this and this.

The forces that drive the huge free-info (books, podcasts, etc.) movement are complex, varied and fascinating -- but this is not the place to go into them.

For me, teaching for free just feels good. It's my version of "giving back."

YouTube is already full of hit or miss tutorial videos. How is this different?

I think communities are very important. MeFi has proven itself to be a place full of interesting people who love to teach and learn. It's amazing how much time and effort people put into answering questions on AskMe, for instance.

As a learner, I have a certain amount of trust in many members here. For instance, if languagehat wanted to teach a class or give a lecture on linguistics, he already has passed the pedigree test in my opinion. He's not just some random guy I've never heard of from YouTube.

10 minutes provides for plenty of focus alright, but precious little substantive content that couldn't just as easily be conveyed in mefi's written format (which stands apart for its reliance on good writing when the web is already so visual and frenetic).

I'm not married to the 10-minute format. I just threw it out there as one discussion point. In my mind, the correct length for a course is "as long as it takes."

I'm not even married to video format. I like it, but I like writing, too. (I've written several books.)
posted by grumblebee at 7:51 PM on June 29, 2010


Can I form the fraternity? MeFi Tappa kegga Day or something? I drink a lotta beer and have about 30 (no joke) versions of Louie Louie in my collections, so I'll be happy to be our Bluto.

GMTA.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:28 PM on June 29, 2010


I MAJORED IN HUGS
posted by klangklangston at 8:32 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also I will teach that two credit health requirement on how to drink like a motherfucking champ. Plus also probably something on acid (me or you, makes no difference).
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 PM on June 29, 2010


Klang, if you point the way to the...ummm...bookstore, I'll be a happy (and dilated!) pupil.
posted by malocchio at 8:38 PM on June 29, 2010


I don't really have anything germane to actual discussion at this point, but I do want to point out that I've read several books.
posted by yhbc at 8:39 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Creation of a "Metafilter Alternative Tutorials:You Tube Channel"... interested MAT creators become "friends"/subscribe to the MATYT channel, upload a video, and post a note to the comments section of the channel notifying the 'channel operator' (the'bee?) of the video, the operator then selects it as a 'featured favorite', and it allows for both text, and thought out video responses.

There are actually more than a few really grown up, mature discussion having 'sub-communities' over there. There are some corners with double plus weird... and FIRST!, but also some nooks with nice people talking bout various books (or whatever interests you).

minor-downside, need to sign up for a youtube account to comment upload etc (in terms of 'scales of effort' it is not so hard to get an account. It is also a positive.) Doesn't have to be just a "web cam face shot, while someone talks into a microphone that is too close to their mouth"... it is getting easier and easier to make it like a multi-media guided slide show, words, images, sounds, video... any or all of the above (powerpoint can help in making some neat things [pp haters, don't shoot, I understand that PP can be anoying, it is a tool, not a solution]).

My first discussion topic suggestion;
Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is a word from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the "most succinct word", and is considered one of the hardest words to translate.[1] It describes "a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start."

Why would anyone want to do this for free?
For the discussionz:) I'd let y'all facilitate m'learnin'.
Or to get feet wet with the idea of teaching (facilitating learning), many reasons, (perhaps the YT angle worries some, or some don't want to 'do' video... you can post just sound to YT also.) Actually, other thought; perhaps something like an integration of that yt business, but inside a free-hosted textual environment, so a text lesson isn't the 'other', and text can run simultaneously to an inline video.
-It would be good because many times when searching for 'tutorials' on X, it can be pretty hit and miss. So, interesting, because it could be anything from a guided tour of a particularly interesting website, to a cooking tip-clip, to a Linux Install Instructor, to someone showing how to do simple home DIY, or Basic Auto Repair, oil change, or how to slick your hair like someone from the Nifty Fifties. (the reason this is different from 'random tutorial on same topic? It's in the same place as a lot of other 'presents' (short presentations), they can be organized, and there are many here with amazing ideas, interests and passions (I doubt there would be 40 versions of the hair-slicking tutorials).
I'm pretty sure that the mac related site "geeks.Pirillo" does something like this, like there is the one guy, but then he has other people who make "how to ... on Macs", and they get shared through one 'channel' and this is where the more diverse interests of Meta comes in, the range of things to learn, or see, in a guided or even semi-guided fashion are legion.

posted by infinite intimation at 8:48 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]



By ready-made, I mean is there a way I could record videos, post them, and hold a MODERATED (I would be willing to moderate for my own class) discussion?


Pretty sure that on YT, a channel operator can delete any comment on any of their videos, and there are thumbs up or down, for each comment, and each video, and they are counted, and noted to visitors, so kind of a rating system, it is fairly good about not allowing multiple "thumbs" by one user on each video or comment, so not huge risk of thumbs spamming) Over time I imagine there would be some individual ones or series (group collab or individual created) that basically need to get posted to a project thing... but likely makes more sense to keep the discussion in one location.

heh, jst thought of a name I find funny, MeTu (MetafilterTutorials).
posted by infinite intimation at 9:06 PM on June 29, 2010


Two words: home work.
posted by swift at 9:15 PM on June 29, 2010


I have a vague feeling this has been discussed before. But I couldn't find anything. If you know of an older thread, please link to it.

Here you go
posted by shii at 9:23 PM on June 29, 2010


Previously


"They are/were going to call it 'Fixed That For You.'"

Ahh... good ol' FTFU. My alma mater! I remember it well.
posted by Eideteker at 9:24 PM on June 29, 2010


I propose that we call it tl,rd. "To learn, read diligently."
posted by Iridic at 9:40 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could teach a "know your rights" class about employment law and disabilities (including conditions like depression, anxiety, etc.).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:40 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Internet 204: Snark

Please, Snark is at least a 400 level course.

And if the professor will write you a decent rec letter, Mefi U will be offering a PhD in Snark beginning Fall 2010.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:08 PM on June 29, 2010


I could teach a "know your rights" class about employment law and disabilities (including conditions like depression, anxiety, etc.).

I could teach a "Know Your Rights" class about the world according to the Clash.

Prerequisite: passing grades in my full series of Paul Weller courses (Weller 101: The Early Years; Weller 201: Scooters and Suits; Weller 301: Comparative Musical Tropes and Influences in Group and Solo Material; and, for graduate-level work, Topics in Advanced Weller: Transformation from Angry Young Man into Modfather).
posted by scody at 11:41 PM on June 29, 2010


MetaFilterTaglines: 400 level course.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:10 AM on June 30, 2010


Since I don't think anyone has mentioned it yet, there's also Wikiversity for a dry run before anyone sets up a site from scratch, and/or for hosting some materials once there's a MeFi U site.
posted by XMLicious at 12:53 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am an expert on circumcision and cat declawing.

If you've circumcised a cat, you're in.
posted by pracowity at 1:34 AM on June 30, 2010


I'll do SAT prep :)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:37 AM on June 30, 2010


There needs to be a course on mycology. This would fill a crucial gap in the education market.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:40 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Doesn't videojug.com already do something similar to this?
posted by Solomon at 3:03 AM on June 30, 2010


I will join if I can have a Chair.

Maybe a couch.
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have much certification
posted by The Whelk at 3:41 AM on June 30, 2010


you're cat, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:55 AM on June 30, 2010


I like this idea.
posted by infini at 4:08 AM on June 30, 2010


Somewhat NSFW classes (with no nudity), yes/yes?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:03 AM on June 30, 2010


I’m just putting a 2 cent opinion out there on how some of these ideas could work well/or not so well.

Things like mefites explaining particle physics. I’m not sure how people would really benefit from that. Has anyone searched ITunesU? What would mefites add to that other than noise? I also think that there are several well done series that already exist if you just do a little bit of searching (Right now if you search something like “take off pedals, road bike” in youtube, you can find series in youtube produced by bike stores. I think it would also be difficult or impossible to top that. )

However, here is the part that I think metafilter could offer something unique. Mainly, it is combining the expertise that a few people may have with either 1) a public challenge here in metatalk or 2) actually use a local meeting or event to integrate the interactive component.

For example -

A programming class. Besides offering subject matter (which is offered in high quality all over the internet), the unique aspect could be things that have been tried in metafilter. For example, I’ve noticed a few great challenges (make a flash game or interactive game, etc.) So the course could offer a brief lecture/intro to material/read this or watch this link…..followed by a challenge open to the community. Results could be posted and open to evaluation by all. I think this could work well with other topics, too (I don’t know anything about this, but knitters could offer “how to knit this stitch” followed by a challenge or follow-up activity “knit a cover for a tree/bike/child, post your result” The really unique component would be to apply the material and it may be a great incentive for participants to try the new things that they are learning.

A lot of other topics that may be interesting are ones that offer the chance for interaction with a meetup just for that event/topic. Just throwing this out there – but if someone offered a cooking class and lived near a major city, it could be interactive with a meetup for that event. For example, how to cook Korean food, but let’s start by walking through China town and explaining what half these items are that you find on the shelves. How could that not be fun? A class participant or 2 could take pictures/post it/make a public wiki that adds info, etc. Collectively over time great material could be created by the community.
posted by Wolfster at 6:16 AM on June 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's telling that no mod has posted in this thread.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:37 AM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wolfster, I think your challenge idea is really fun, so don't think I'm disagreeing with it. But I do have a counter view to this:

Things like mefites explaining particle physics. I’m not sure how people would really benefit from that. Has anyone searched ITunesU? What would mefites add to that other than noise? I also think that there are several well done series that already exist

I have probably read a hundred books on programming. Many of them cover the same ground. But it's not just about the information. It's about HOW the information is delivered, and that is bound up with the personality of the writer. It's okay for there to be two classes on the same thing. Sometimes, in order to really learn something, you need to hear it multiple lines in multiple ways.

And I mentioned the community aspect upthread: there are many linguistics courses, but I'd be more interested in one taught by languahehat than one taught be some guy I don't know. I've interacted with languagehat for years on this site. I trust that he knows his stuff, and learning from him would be less like watching a formal lecture and more like a friend talking to me about some cool stuff.
posted by grumblebee at 6:40 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's telling that no mod has posted in this thread.

Telling of what? Maybe they're not interested in the idea. What does that matter? I'm not asking for a pony. This would be set up offsite.
posted by grumblebee at 6:41 AM on June 30, 2010


Joseph Gurl: "It's telling that no mod has posted in this thread."

If they're NE like I read in another thread, it's only 9am. I'm not an expert on their posting history or personal lives, but I'm assuming they have lives outside of metafilter.
posted by theichibun at 6:44 AM on June 30, 2010


I'm assuming they have lives outside of metafilter

Wait, there's life outside? You mean... somewhere else on the internet, then?
posted by XMLicious at 6:47 AM on June 30, 2010


This is pretty much a terrible idea, and it's telling that you feel you need to springboard off of metafilter to make it work. If you need "that" community to make "this" work, you're doomes,

It also seems obvious to me that your tone and the tone of the people who're signing on to this is the tone of people that aren't going to see it through. I heard that tone before, and it's the tone of failure.

It's nice to dream, and right now - you're 100% sure you'd do this & it'd be awesome if there weren't so many intractables. But I and a number of people have been in exactly the same place as you are now, and the way you're framing this idea sounds an awful lot like when we framed similar ideas in the pub/coffee house/etc, and then quickly forgot about them.

But - If I'm wrong, (and I have been known to be wrong)

FOR FUCKS SAKE. JUST DO IT.

There's no moaning about structure and how these things'll work when it's all successful. Write to languagehat & ask him if he's in. Make your own programming video. Put it on youtube. And knock together the simplest HTML pages you can to link them all together.

Then post it in projects.

JUST DO IT.

Put it this way - If you're still here in a week and no video has been placed on the web, you'll never do it. So start now. While procrastination isn't ingrained into the project and you're still dreaming.
posted by seanyboy at 7:01 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I agree with Wolfster. I think I'd enjoy contributing a couple of short lecture series ("Layperson's crash course in [sciency stuff]" or "Beginners' [hobby stuff]"), and I'm confident I could do it fairly well. However, in terms of production values, scope, etc. I'm pretty sure that I couldn't do anything to beat material already available online.

Various mods have previously said, correctly IMO, that Metafilter's unique strength is its community (largely a product of their moderation, at least arguably), rather than any unique technology, gimmick or content source. The only way we could really add value to what's already available is to focus on the same community aspect. This could be through course-oriented meetups, interactivity with the course author(s), covering specific topics at the community's request, etc. This is more labour intensive than just an archive of lectures (even if it's curated, which is another plate of beans entirely), but it's probably more fun and the only thing that our community could do better than the vast, polished lecture archives that are already up and running.
posted by metaBugs at 7:01 AM on June 30, 2010


If you're wondering how this sort of thing would work, you should read up on the:

K h a a a a n ! !
Academy.

(Ignore the joke. That link is real.)
posted by seanyboy at 7:06 AM on June 30, 2010


It also seems obvious to me that your tone and the tone of the people who're signing on to this is the tone of people that aren't going to see it through. ...There's no moaning about structure and how these things'll work when it's all successful.

Wow.

I put this up YESTERDAY. I haven't been "moaning" for two weeks about something. I posted an idea to see if anyone was interested. That's just a standard thing I do before embarking on any project, unless I'm baking a pie just for me.

I've been teaching for twenty years, I've written four instructional books and countless articles, and I've made many instructional videos. I'm not a slacker. But I like to run things by people before I do them. Is that so odd to do for ONE DAY?
posted by grumblebee at 7:16 AM on June 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


What the hell? I read about this yesterday, why aren't I already learnt yet?
posted by Think_Long at 7:23 AM on June 30, 2010


What the hell? I read about this yesterday, why aren't I already learnt yet?

Rarely is the question asked: Is our Mefites learning?
posted by amyms at 7:26 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other things that may hamper your ability to do this:

- Being precious.
- Being unable to deal with criticism.
- Concentrating on proving people wrong when you should be in front of a webcam teaching.
- Being overly aggressive to those that would criticise.
- Not listening.

So yes.
Wow indeed.
posted by seanyboy at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2010


Seanyboy, are you just pissed off at me for reasons unrelated to this thread? If I fail, to do this, please criticize me. I haven't failed yet. I'm one day in. My plan is to start recording this weekend, when I will have time.
posted by grumblebee at 7:41 AM on June 30, 2010


True fact: I had never heard the word "precious" used derogatorily* until I found mefi. Now I encounter it daily.

*I also always thought the adverbial form of "derogatory" was "derogatively". Why the fuck hasn't anyone learnt me that yet? For shame mefiU, for shame.
posted by Think_Long at 7:44 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I mean is that you've criticized me for something I'm going to fail to do in the future, right? (Or am I misunderstanding something -- very possible, I'm often dense.) I don't get how that makes sense. But what am I doing wrong right now? What's wrong with asking people's opinions just a few days before you start something?

I'm not trying to be aggressive towards you. I'm trying to understand what you're saying.
posted by grumblebee at 7:45 AM on June 30, 2010


Apologies Grumblebee, I think some ideas are not going across because in the end just posting a comment leaves lots of room for misunderstandings.

My point about particle physics, for example, was not meant to be a criticism of your original idea. My point is that some topics may not lend itself well to a course created here. I’m not going to hunt down the particular physics course – but there are courses in iTunesU that are team taught by nobel prize winning physicists – with graphics, some humor, and made for mass consumption by someone with intro level physics. Unless someone has conducted years of research in that field and has numerous publications, I don’t know how much more they are going to add – but that is for that particular topic.And maybe I’m just snarky and it’s just me, but I’ve had a lot of training/experiences in other areas of the sciences and I can’t sit through Lay Person 101 science talk/but that’s just me. It's great pple want to do that and they can share it with other pple

However, I do think the topics that you want to offer (Shakespeare or computer programming) would lend themselves to being covered by someone who has read it a lot, working in it, produced plays, whatever – I’d take such a course (or watch the first video) and I am sure that I’m not the only one. I was also just tossing out the idea that it would be great to add the unique things that metafilter can offer – the publicly posted challenges or just physically meet at museum X and look at picture Y.

I feel odd repeating another poster’s idea because I think it was also misinterpreted but there is a valuable point or two in there, but if you are passionate about this idea and I have no doubt you would have some participants– take the ideas that you like from the thread/find a person or 2 to team up with, start making material, and then post it back here in metatalk or projects .

It is easy for everyone else (myself included) to cast stones and offer suggestions – and it isn’t really fair because we are being passive and not doing anything active. If you have the energy, passion, knowledge, go for it. Create it.
posted by Wolfster at 7:56 AM on June 30, 2010


This is just like the lipdub thread

*cries*

For real though, it might be a good project and I hereby vow to contribute a 5 minute video about something I know stuff about.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:58 AM on June 30, 2010


Heh heh. seanyboy, you already stated that you completely and utterly failed to do something like this yourself - that in fact you didn't get anywhere even in motivating yourself to do it. Perhaps grumblebee's failure to immediately accept all of your criticisms and sit at your feet waiting for more inspiration (like the ALL CAPS and NIKE SLOGANS! IN CAPS!) is not unwarranted.

I mean even if he doesn't take your advice it doesn't seem possible that he'll get less done than you did, right?
posted by XMLicious at 8:00 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I might be interested in contributing some finance related lectures, but a few questions / operational points:

Last term one of the Universities I work for offered me the oop to participate in their (rapidly growing) online learning programme. I dived right into recording a little less than one hundred hours (to date, was just in the studio this AM for three hours, and will be two days a week for all of July) of lectures, which are made available to students week by week during term time. Each lecture is augmented by pre / post video discussion, assigned work, etc.

We're using Moodle, which provides a fairly rich VLE, and allows us to create an experience that, while not precisely the same as face to face, clearly benefits students who can't travel to London.

All of my online filming is done in a green room environment, with some software on an accompanying PC capturing the PowerPoints and Excel models that augment or, in some cases drive, my presentation. This is one of those operational points that I haven't seen any mention of, and I certainly don't have access to nor do I know how this software works (if at all) with web cam quality setups. So first question / problem - how would this editing / merging on the presentation with ancillary materials be accomplished? Don't underestimate production values; I've seen my raw footage and while I'm comfortable in front of the camera, making clear and steady eye contact with students, my presentations benefit as much from editing as they do from careful merging / synchronisation of ancillary materials. So how could this be accomplished?

A second query would be timeliness of the material; lots of what students like about my online or physical classes is that I coopt 15 minutes or so of the lecture time to discuss the markets. These presentations originate from and in some cases overlaps with material I sell to private clients, so it gives students a great deal of insight into what's going on now and how we expect market conditions to change over time. The point is this material is time sensitive, and may not make a lot of sense, sometimes in periods of time as short as three or four weeks. So would there be a niche for such presentations? Again, these PowerPoints come as part of a set, there is indeed some text but they consist mostly graphs and charts (i.e., US Yield Curve, various commodity prices, all sorts of well known but even arcane indicators of market and economic performance) and they change, sometimes very rapidly (i.e., just three weeks ago we were seeing the 30Y US Treasury yielding about 4.25%, and now as of this AM it's down to 3.92%, huge changes indicating massive capital flows that students of the market must be aware of). So have you thought through how timeliness would impact the portfolio of material you're proposing to assemble?

Third, have folks thought about pre and post production work? There is a lot that goes on, mostly structuring and organising before filming and post filming support, which (if my limited experience in this domain is any guide), goes to make this a success. For example, identifying the material that would be helpful if people were acquainted with before viewing? Post video interaction and discussion? This has to be done if one is proposing to assemble and present a cogent body of work along pretty much any topic. Also of concern: Moodle provides a very rich experience, with the lecturer able to establish and moderate multiple, topic oriented discussion threads. But this is decidedly a non-trivial amount of work, and one concern I'd have is that the Moodle experience would differ somewhat from the "usual" MeFi thread in the sense that moderation (done by the instigator of the topic) may be more be more heavy handed, when compared to more commonly accepted cultural standards of this site. I think that would be present a big change for many MeFites.

Fourth, (and sorry for being the one who raises the tawdry) how are you proposing to structure this experiment from a legal point of view? Copyright is clear on MeFi but it becomes a little greyer on a distinct vehicle such as you're (tentatively) describing, off site and all. How about liability should copyright material be incorporated into a lecture then redistributed without permission? There probably should be some paperwork in place before the first lecture is distributed unless, of course, we're talking of a very modest undertaking (face in camera just talking) .

Fifth, how tightly are you proposing to handle pseudonyms? Clearly I don't lecture professionally nor sell market commentary to private clients under my MeFi name, and as this may tie nicely into another project of mine (I've been writing a finance book) it would be done under my "real" name. I guess what I'm asking is are you proposing that folks use believable, "real" names across the board, or would you decline from tight controls and leave that up to whomever is submitting content? No right or wrong answer here, either just presents different courses of action / possible outcomes for your proposed activity.

Sorry for the longish query, but these were a few points that leapt out at me. Otherwise, interesting idea.
posted by Mutant at 8:05 AM on June 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pencil me in on homelessness.
posted by The Straightener at 8:15 AM on June 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ignoring the grar tangent above, apparently I am a MeFi expert on Bean Plating Harry Potter for Grownups, How to Suck it Up and Start Drinking Tea Already, and Revolutionary Feminism with Giant Boobs. I would be pleased to have a discussion or write some essays on these (and other) topics, but I would shy away from youtube format.

And by shy away, I mean shun shun shun. I love watching YT videos, but being on the other side of that, with voice narration or even worse, being in front of a camera? Hells to the no. I've learned craft techniques and such from instructional YT videos before, but they're always physical actions that are learned in under 4 minutes. Anything longer and I'll be interested, but I won't want to join in any sort of discussion, either.

Instead, a classic website with words and illustrative pictures, or possibly illustrative video clips, combined with an IRC channel (and regularly uploaded logs for future perusal and extraction of the good bits) and nested comments would be my personal ideal.

I don't think there should be any restrictions on "instructors" as long as they are willing to put forth the effort. Otherwise, there are too many barriers to entry. MeFi is very good at correcting itself in anything other than political threads, so the risk of disseminating factually incorrect information with an authoritative tone is mitigated. Chances are, a real life doctor/graduate student/lawyer/mechanic will come along and yell "no u rong" and fix it for them.
posted by Mizu at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lots of good points. I'm not sure I have to play the leader and respond to everything, but as much as, having started this, I do need to do it, It'll be later today. Paying-the-rent work is taking up all my time for the next few hours.
posted by grumblebee at 8:35 AM on June 30, 2010


Maybe it's because I teach for a living, but explain why people are going to want to do this (over time, anyway) for free?

One of the best ways for me to get my thoughts straight on a topic is to teach it. Before writing a book, I would want to teach a class on the topic several times, for example. This would help me generate material, section out ideas, get feedback on my delivery, and add nuance.

In fact, I am taking oral examinations for doctorate in rhetoric in December, and in preparation for that, I would be willing to participate.
posted by Jagz-Mario at 8:51 AM on June 30, 2010


Much like chopsticks I can teach you to pick up anything.
posted by pianomover at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2010


Lets just get this straight.
I'm not pissed off at anyone.
But XMLicious - you come close.
posted by seanyboy at 9:26 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would a narrated computer-generated video be cool? I don't have a camera or anything, but I do have a microphone and could make computer animation to go with my voice.
posted by Jpfed at 9:39 AM on June 30, 2010


I prefer Metafilter to remain classless, just as it's always been.
posted by MasonDixon at 10:12 AM on June 30, 2010


One of the best ways for me to get my thoughts straight on a topic is to teach it. Before writing a book, I would want to teach a class on the topic several times

Yes, this is true 1000%. Keith Peters, a best-selling author of Flash books, says this on his blog all the time. Over the years, he has given away rough versions (as blogged tutorials) of most of his books for exactly this reason. He wrote free tutorials about iPhone programming to teach himself how to program for the iPhone. It was fun to learn along with him.
posted by grumblebee at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's telling that no mod has posted in this thread.

I've been half-watching it and letting it sit; didn't seem like anything that needed mod steering per se, and the post wasn't a "hey mods, you need to implement this for us" type request in the first place.

I agree with the notion a few folks, seanyboy included, have expressed, toward doing-rather-than-talking as the best way to see if this will actually work out, and I would have the same general advice here—someone give this a prototype run just to see how it works out to like record a short video lecture on some little aspect of something they're passionate about, and try organizing a discussion around it (in comments on youtube, in IRC, in a thread on Metachat maybe, whatever) and see how it goes. See what works and what doesn't. Allow yourselves to be surprised by what plays out on the virgin trip, and start revising from there and trying again with modified ideas.

It'll work or it won't. Group activities can be hard, so that it might not work is a given, but I don't get the impression grumblebee or anyone else interested in this idea is under the impression that it's a guaranteed success.

All that said, seanyboy, you did come off as kind of a jerk up there. I think there's good ways to approach criticism and caveats without being as doomsaying or as confrontational as you chose to be. You can just plain not like the idea and not take an interest in it without trying to make a thing out of it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2010


One of the best ways for me to get my thoughts straight on a topic is to teach it.

Yeah, me too. The process of trying to fit things I think I know into a complete and coherent framework for presentation is a great way to discover little details I still don't know. Or, with alarming frequency, for having one of those "wait a minute... that doesn't make any sense!" moments.

I've said many times that you never really know if you understand something until you try to explain it to someone else.
posted by FishBike at 10:39 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


you never really know if you understand something until you try to explain it to someone else.
posted by infini at 10:56 AM on June 30, 2010


Will FASA cover the five bucks?
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:03 AM on June 30, 2010


grumblebee, not that you need my advice, but -- I think it's fine for us to mull on this for a while, think it through, and then try a few things. I don't think you or anyone needs to rush to "do" before the idea is marinated or cooked or whatever. Speaking of -- I like the idea of a cooking class being an inaugural class, with a meet-up being part of the video.

My own abilities -- I can teach law topics, but know approximately zero about creating videos. That might be true of others. It might be important to team people together to create something. FWIW, I think law topics are toward the bottom of any course catalog, but just using my own experience to respond.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2010


There was discussion about doing this in book form. They are/were going to call it "Fixed That For You."

It's still going on. Orange Swan has started a blog for it, complete with a picture of beans.
posted by angrycat at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just a heads up to NYC Mefites:

I can't read this entire thread right now, but Mefi's own soma lkzx has a similar project underway right now called The Brooklyn Brainery and it just got full funding yesterday to open up more classes in a new space.

In short, you can moderate just about anything: woodworking, studies on Titus Andronicus, pie-making, semiotics, film studies, the history of makeup, gardening, etc. If you feel comfortable moderating a class, Brooklyn Brainery can probably work with you.

So the project isn't Metafilter-centric, but there's already been a bit of overlap when I called a meetup at one of the Brainery's fundraisers. We have several Mefites who have already taken classes there, too!
posted by zoomorphic at 11:41 AM on June 30, 2010


The brooklyn brainery looks amazingly cool. I'm sure I will attend (and maybe teach) classes there. Note that it's not free. Classes are $25. That's reasonable by any standards, so I'm not complaining.
posted by grumblebee at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2010


Previous attempt at a similar effort. Not sure it went anywhere. The MeTa thread is unresolved.

How is this idea different from ehow.com (formerly Expert Village)? Because it would be for and by the community?

And just a cautionary comment, though I'm not sure how much it would apply here: eGullet.com became insufferable when it went from being a forum for discussing food and cooking to being the "eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and Letters." Blech. Ruined a perfectly good forum.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:09 PM on June 30, 2010


grumblebee, I think this is a fantastic idea. I'd be willing to contribute, if you think there's a MeFi audience for talks about the Amish and related Anabaptist/Plain groups. If I can help somehow, feel free to MeMail me; I have no job currently, so I'm looking for ways to be useful.
posted by epj at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is this idea different from ehow.com (formerly Expert Village)? Because it would be for and by the community?

I only have one answer to all of those "how will this be different from X?" questions: "because it will be by us." If that's not different enough for you, I understand. For me, I'm glad there are multiple books about Abraham Lincoln by various authors. And if one of the authors is someone I know (someone I can ask questions, etc.) then that's even better!
posted by grumblebee at 12:31 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Currently, based on lots of advice here, I'm thinking the best way to do this is for me to set up a blog. The blog will list new courses/lectures/tutorials. The comments section in each post can act as a place for people to discuss the courses and ask questions.

BIG QUESTION: is there a blog system out there which will allow me to make different people mods for each blog post (without giving them access to the whole blog)? That would be ideal. Then if Fred teaches a class, he can moderate his own post about that class.


The blog won't host the courses. It will just link to them. This way, I don't have to deal with rights issues. Want to be sure you have complete rights to your content? Host them yourself. I'll just help promote them.

Also, this will allow any sort of course: audio, video, text, etc. I can link to whatever.

So the proceedure is: you make a course using whatever medium you want, post it somewhere (youtube, etc), email me about it, I post it to the blog and make you the moderator of your that post.

The final component will be a twitter feed. People can sign up to the feed, and, if they do, they'll get announcements about new courses/lectures/etc.

How does this sound?
posted by grumblebee at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2010


I could pull something together on how to get your writing produced in a UK theatre, but like Mizu, I'd prefer a text based format.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2010


Would anyone be interested in...
Yes. Make a short-ish (15 min or below?) introduction to or overview of your favourite topic, aimed at laypeople. I absolutely love being introduced to people's interests, hobbies and passions and learning new stuff; I'm sure many MeFites feel the same. Once you've established some context (why this is important/cool/worth learning about) and helped people get a handle on it, it's time to consider expanding into further, more detailed presentations.

If we could encourage people to make short introductory or very-narrow-focus lectures like this, it'd become a pool of bite-sized knowledge dumps. This has the same appeal to me as TED talks, with the dual bonuses of being followed up by more detailed information and being far less self-satisfied.

grumblebee - How does this sound?
Good! I think it might be useful to have a space for occasional community discussion/polling, so users can request specific topics and/or potential teachers can gauge interest in their ideas for courses. That can probably be done in the comments space of occasional housekeeping posts, though.

An alternative idea might be to set up a forum on one of the free hosting sites (e.g. this one - not an endorsement, just the first google hit). Each course could be a board/subforum, and the teacher made the moderator for that. This would allow for several threaded conversations about a given talk/course, which could be handy if there are several topics to discuss, or several installments in a series of talks. Of course, this is adding another layer of complexity, another service to sign up for and another potential point of technological failure. Does anyone have experience with running these free boards?
posted by metaBugs at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2010


Other things that may hamper your ability to do this:

- Being precious.
- Being unable to deal with criticism.
- Concentrating on proving people wrong when you should be in front of a webcam teaching.
- Being overly aggressive to those that would criticise.
- Not listening.


What the hell is this about? Seriously, what the fuck? I'm sorry, I understand and appreciate your first comments about "doing" rather than "talking", even if you did phrase them in the jerkiest way possible, but this? You have some problem with grumblebee in general, I take it? Memail him. I have no idea what place your comment has in this thread.

And grumblebee has a whole fuckload of teaching experience, and has consistently gotten outstanding student evaluations, and even some standing ovations for his classes - yes, a standing ovation for teaching a programming class.

And yes, I'm his wife, and you can fuck right off.
posted by Evangeline at 1:38 PM on June 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


And yes, I'm his wife. . .

Huh. . . I learned something new today.
posted by Think_Long at 1:46 PM on June 30, 2010


Huh. . . I learned something new today.

Yeah, I'm taken. Sorry.
posted by grumblebee at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


An alternative idea might be to set up a forum on one of the free hosting sites (e.g. this one - not an endorsement, just the first google hit).

A forum would be my first choice, too, because I sort of think a blog commenting system might not suffice if a course generated a lot of questions and discussions.

But is there a forum system that will allow each teacher to moderate his/her own thread? I am up to making my own course, and I am up to helping launch and maintain this whole thing, but I am not up to moderating an entire forum by myself.
posted by grumblebee at 2:16 PM on June 30, 2010


InvisionFree lets you set up some really specific forum moderation. Unfortunately the forum code itself is clunky, and support is kinda crappy.
posted by Mizu at 2:39 PM on June 30, 2010


Is there a reason you need a forum at all, if the central blog is just a way to keep track of the location of all the courses people are going to put together on their own?

And if you do need a forum, is there a reason the course creators need to have specific mod powers over the thread devoted to their course?

I'm just not seeing a reason for all this technology. For that matter I'm not seeing why people couldn't just create online courses right now and post them to projects, if they want to, without requiring all this extra work to build a whole external side channel devoted to them.

The point is the courses, right? All the meta-level stuff about getting to and talking about the courses is just decoration, isn't it?
posted by ook at 2:59 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm taken. Sorry.

But...but...I was going to introduce you to happywasp!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2010


I'm pretty sure wordpress allows you to set that kind of level for permissions. If not out of the box then with a plug in, but I think even out of the box the authorship stuff is pretty good.
posted by shelleycat at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2010


Bean Plating Harry Potter for Grownups

Research in my lab uses Harry Potter as a stimulus (because he is a familiar but unknown other that both kids and adults are likely to know).

I could totally give a legit and informed lecture on this topic.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:42 PM on June 30, 2010


My mom's going to sign up so that she can defend me next time someone on the Internet doesn't like something I say.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:44 PM on June 30, 2010


The point is the courses, right? All the meta-level stuff about getting to and talking about the courses is just decoration, isn't it?

You may be right.

I was thinking that a forum/blog/whatever was needed for two reasons. One was for a central place where people could promote and find out about courses. But that's not the main one. The main one was for students taking courses to ask the teacher questions -- and to talk to the other students.

Moderation is needed, I think, to deal with trolls and massive derails. If I'm taking a course about knitting, I don't want to read rants about how knitting is stupid and no one should do it.
posted by grumblebee at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2010


I'll set up some kind of forum or blog or whatever this weekend. Once I've done that, I'll contact people who've expressed an interest here and ask them if they still would like to contribute.
posted by grumblebee at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2010


My mom's going to sign up so that she can defend me next time someone on the Internet doesn't like something I say.

Jesus Christ, that was lame. Grumblebee could give a flying fuck what seanyboy says about him. He doesn't need defending. That was purely for my own peace of mind.

And I've been on Metafilter for quite awhile. I joined it because of all the awesome, smart, funny people, but I may be leaving it soon because the few loud assholes are giving me headaches. It may not be worth the aggravation anymore, I hate to say.
posted by Evangeline at 4:12 PM on June 30, 2010


My mom's going to sign up so that she can defend me next time someone on the Internet doesn't like something I say.

My mom's going to sign up and give everyone pie.
posted by grumblebee at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2010


Yeah, I'm pretty sure grumblebee wins that one.

Plus his mom's kid doesn't come off like a snide little tonguerunner with nothing to say beyond mealy horseshit.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:32 PM on June 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I really don't want to talk about my mother-in-law's pie.
posted by Evangeline at 4:34 PM on June 30, 2010


Doctorates of Internet Discourse

I already have one of those, thanks.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 4:39 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This looks interesting (and like a lot of work, to the extent you focus on recruiting and coordinating other teachers.) I'm happy to think about being a student for whatever you organize or produce, though.

I have a thought which might make the recruitment side easier . . . I really like The Teaching Company's courses, in part because they seem to have an outstanding faculty. I've learned a lot I missed in college about classical music and ancient Anatolian history by taking the "classes." It would be great to "take" one of those courses with other MeFis. The negative is that they charge for their courses but then again, they are constantly having sales, so the courses are often fairly affordable.

Speaking from the book club side of things, my sense is that MeFis are really busy people, and there is a steep drop off from the large amount of people who say they will participate to the fewer number of those who actually find the time to do so. So it might work out well to use a packaged item like a good course for participants to comment on in this community.
posted by bearwife at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2010


One of the best ways for me to get my thoughts straight on a topic is to teach it.

Me too, but I still get paid for it. I'm always teaching whatever set of issues I'm thinking about as a scholar. That's why they pay me. I'm not suggesting there's no other satisfaction or value in teaching, but if you want people to do something serious, there has to be some benefit.

On the other hand, what I do love about Metafilter is the way I can indeed *learn shit* here from the many smart people who are passionate and knowledgeable about fields beyond my own areas of expertise, or on the margins of my own interests especially. I'd take a music course from flapjax at midnight for example, and I'm a music professor already, but the thing is I feel like *I already do* when I read FJaM's magnificent posts -- and that goes for many other people here on many other topics. I'm not sure I'd learn more from watching him do a 10 minute video presentation than I do from reading his posts and following and listening to the links.

I don't think watching someone lecture in front of a camera is the same thing. We already have plenty of discussions here around articulate lectures, articles, videos, photo galleries, and news stories. The discussions are egalitarian and meritocratic. No one is the a priori instructor or authority, but people acquire standing to address particular topics by the quality of their writing over time, as well as their willingness to learn from others -- to listen as well as speak.

This chemistry would be really altered by a centrally featured area of site-produced instructional content, leaving aside the many other problems this presents. I think it should be a side project that is distinct from the main site, even from projects (where it could be workshopped, but not housed over time) -- something like metachat or deletedthread, we all know it's there, but it has a separate and largely walled-off identity of its own. My honest opinion is that I can't think of an implementation of this that wouldn't dilute the Metafilter "brand" such as it is. We find some of the endless number of interesting objects for discussion already out there, then we discuss them in reasonably civil and serious ways (plus the lulz, of course, and the grar). Why formalize that? Or feature a priori experts?

What you're proposing is a little more like AskMe, a kind of active development of content and similarly reliant on expertise. In fact, maybe it should be tied to Ask if it's tied to the site at all. We can agree that there are recurrent questions and authoritative answer(er)s that would benefit from an archive of video tutorials, let's say, on how to ditch the motherfucker already. I mean fix your bike seat, or backup your hard drive, or whatever. Indeed, you could develop instructional content by having the people who write really smart answers to AskMe questions (or maybe really compelling comments in the blue) expand on their thoughts in a formal way, sort of akin to the podcast.

Otherwise, you're working in a very crowded space where there really isn't the focus or the resource base here to do something worthy of this community. Every university I know is rapidly scaling up its online (and often opensource) instructional content these days, and many entrepreneurs are out there peddling their consulting or service businesses by onlne "teaching" to attract a market (time honored, of course, as a business strategy, or why do you think wine shops run wine courses?). If I need to learn how to do something in photoshop or see a tutorial on how to clean my camera lens, it's already out there, at several different levels of quality.

Something more interactive and dialogic, and less like the canned TED lecture format, would be more worthy of the site. Think seminar, not class.

Again, just brainstorming the question.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:52 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I may be leaving it soon because the few loud assholes are giving me headaches. It may not be worth the aggravation anymore, I hate to say.

Oh noes! W
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:55 PM on June 30, 2010


Yeah, grumblebee for the win above. I'd say seanyboy's two bizarre rants actually made me want to support this idea a little more than I did in my first comment. That was some bullshit. Maybe he was auditioning to teach the course in gratuitous, semi-literate putdowns.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2010


This chemistry would be really altered by a centrally featured area of site-produced instructional content, leaving aside the many other problems this presents. I think it should be a side project that is distinct from the main site

I totally agree. I wouldn't support this as an official part of the site. I was always thinking of it as a side project, like the book club.
posted by grumblebee at 6:25 PM on June 30, 2010


Hey, Evangeline, fourcheesmac, and co., I am really grateful for the support. Thanks. But I don't think we need to pile on seanyboy any more. It's possibly I offended him somehow, and if so, I'm sorry. Or maybe I didn't and he was just having a bad day and taking it out on me or whatever. Shit happens. Lets move on.

Let's talk about why my idea is the best thing since slice bread -- or why it sucks. Or how it can be improved.

Even if it comes to nothing, this thread is interesting, because people are making clear claims about the boundaries of this community.

(Just to be clear, because in the past, when I've asked people not to pile on someone, I was told I was "telling people what to talk about," I'm not telling, I'm requesting.)
posted by grumblebee at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2010


I'm not entirely convinced this will work or anything will come of it but then I also don't have time to contribute anyway. But I do think the best way to find out what it's really about and to show people that it's a valid idea is to get started and have it be wonderful. It doesn't need to be perfect from the start or overthought at this point, just have a go and see what happens. Which it looks like you're going to do so awesome.

I think seanyboy was expressing a similar sentiment just doing so in a weirdly grumpy manner. Things often read differently than the originator intended so instead of getting huffy about the details just address the underlying concern, which actually you have already so again, awesome.

I am interested to see what happens when someone inevitably includes something in their 'class' that's demonstrably wrong. It happens so often in ask.me* that it's definitely going to happen here too, but with the caveat that the person presenting is set up as being some kind of expert (more so than in ask) and there might not be the same outlet for someone better informed to set the record straight. You could argue that the same thing happens in real university classes (which I'm sure it does) but there's a higher standard of expertise and background research that go into those classes so at the least the person presenting it should be able to back up their claims. It might not be a problem anyway depending on what the classes are about, bad cooking advice is only likely to screw up your cake and I don't imagine people will be teaching health classes or giving actual legal advice in this format. Again this is something you'll figure out by trying so go try.

*Note I'm not excluding myself from putting bad information into ask, I think everyone does it eventually, although I do try hard not to of course. But I do see bad science and it makes me cringe.
posted by shelleycat at 7:36 PM on June 30, 2010


I am interested to see what happens when someone inevitably includes something in their 'class' that's demonstrably wrong. It happens so often in ask.me* that it's definitely going to happen here too, but with the caveat that the person presenting is set up as being some kind of expert (more so than in ask) and there might not be the same outlet for someone better informed to set the record straight.

This is a sensible concern, but it's kind of a part of the Human Condition, isn't it? I mean, what happens when your History Prof at Harvard says something demonstratively wrong? What happens when someone does that in Wikipedia? In the NY Times? In a best-selling book?

Such events happen all the time, and the result is ... something. The mistake gets called out, it doesn't get called out, it gets called out and the person who made the mistake is grateful, it gets called out and the person who made the mistake is defensive...

I guess I'm saying that as long as I offer a way for people to discuss, I don't think I have any other responsibility along these lines. Even if I do have more responsibility, I'm not sure this is a facet of the world I have control over.
posted by grumblebee at 7:44 PM on June 30, 2010


I'm not saying that things being wrong is automatically terrible or even something you should care about. I'm just ... interested to see what happens. How it gets dealt with or even noticed I guess. It's part of why I think you should give this all a go and refine from there rather than try to second guess everything now.
posted by shelleycat at 8:25 PM on June 30, 2010


I am a teacher, with semi-legitimate credentials, and I like this idea. Because you were all waiting with baited breath for absalom's opinion.
posted by absalom at 11:15 PM on June 30, 2010


The only thing I have to contribute to this thread right now is the weird coincidence that I suggested this VERY IDEA to my son yesterday, as we were driving home and I was explaining to him in more detail how Metafilter works. I was telling him about the various sub-sites and rambling on and blurted out something about Metafilter University, eventually shortening it to Metaversity.
posted by jvilter at 11:36 PM on June 30, 2010


Things often read differently than the originator intended so instead of getting huffy about the details just address the underlying concern . . .

I don't think the aggro comments in question "read differently than the originator intended." I think he intended to be a dick. Nice for grumblebee to excuse it and call for peace, but when you jump in a thread to be a dick to someone in an aggressive way, it's really everyone's business who cares about community discourse norms.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:46 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac : You know what?

I still think MeFiU is a bad idea, but as grumblebee and I are sorting this out via meMail, and as I've been told multitudinous times that I came over as a jerk or a dick, I don't see any reason for you to keep pointing out my flaws. You might want to fight me in this thread - and that's troller's choice - but for the record, I'd prefer it if we let this one drop.
posted by seanyboy at 4:46 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I'd prefer an Ask Me Anything/Interview project first. Seems like it would be a lot easier to implement with less up front commitment.
posted by empath at 5:41 AM on July 1, 2010


I think I'd prefer an Ask Me Anything/Interview project first. Seems like it would be a lot easier to implement with less up front commitment.

I'm intrigued by this, but can you explain more. It actually seems like it would be more complicated to set up, but I'm probably not picturing what you're picturing.
posted by grumblebee at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2010


Yeah:

"Hi, I'm a playwright and have been producing plays for several years, ask me anything!"
---------------
"What's your favorite play to produce?"

"I've written a play and want to get it produced, where do I start?"

"Shakespeare is overrated, isn't he?"

and so on.
posted by empath at 6:39 AM on July 1, 2010


I'm also picturing gifting subjects of mefi posts accounts and setting up like a more 'formal' interview thread. It's great when they jump in to the original thread, but often it's several days later and the action has died down.
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on July 1, 2010


empath, have you seen IAMA on reddit? (Which isn't my way of saying, "They've already done it, so why should we?" It's just something I think you'd like.)
posted by grumblebee at 6:56 AM on July 1, 2010


Yeah, I was thinking of that and something similar on Something Awful.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on July 1, 2010


Hi there,

Bit late to the party I guess so I don't know if any of this is going to be useful. I had a bit of a think about this while doing the dishes and had a few thoughts:

1. There's a lot of stuff already out there (MIT courseware, iTunesU and so on), but I don't know if it's been evaluated very well or not. For example, if I were interested in a course in particle physics, I might come to the site, ask where I should start and be pointed in the direction of some existing (ideally freely available) courses that MeFi experts in the field rate highly. If these existing courses had some gaps, or if the students had some follow-up questions, they might be able to address the MeFi expert(s) directly in some way. This might be a bit less labour-intensive and allow MeFi experts to facilitate self-learning rather than directly teaching.

2. I kind of like the idea that it could also include an AskMe style forum (?) where the student comes in and requests courses / instruction etc. rather than just having people offer what they can do.

I will try to think more whilst taking out the trash!
posted by mukade at 7:11 AM on July 1, 2010


Just remembered - a MeFi expert could also produce course notes for existing materials (like a semester plan or something) that would allow the student to take advantage of a number of different pre-existing courses.
posted by mukade at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2010


Yeah:

"Hi, I'm a playwright and have been producing plays for several years, ask me anything!"
---------------
"What's your favorite play to produce?"

"I've written a play and want to get it produced, where do I start?"

"Shakespeare is overrated, isn't he?"

and so on.
posted by empath at 8:39 AM on July 1 [+] [!]


Now THAT is really interesting to me. But when I try to picture it, I see AskMeFi specialists in which the doctor gets the medical questions, the lawyer gets the legal questions etc and I'm pretty sure that kind of thing has been shot down repeatedly. I might be picturing it too narrowly though.
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:22 PM on July 1, 2010


I would actually prefer AskMeAnything to what I'm proposing, but I DO think it would be way more work, and I don't have the time to implement it. I suspect something like that would require a TON of moderation.

Also, the reddit version has this thing called badges (I think that's what it's called). The expert can email some sort of proof of his expertise to the mods. The mods don't show it to anyone else, but, if they are convinced by it, they put a star next to the thread. They allow all threads, but only some have starts. The others you believe at your own risk.

That adds a layer of trustworthiness to the whole thing. But I just don't have time to do that sort of moderation.

My project just involves setting up a blog -- or something like that -- and letting anyone who wants to post a course, post a course. And teachers would moderate their own threads. The main work for ME would be making my own course. But that's something I'm willing to do.
posted by grumblebee at 10:59 AM on July 2, 2010


"Shakespeare is overrated, isn't he?"

By the way, here's my Ask Me Anything.
posted by grumblebee at 11:04 AM on July 2, 2010


Looks like Reddit is going gung-ho with this idea: Reddit University.
posted by grumblebee at 9:21 AM on July 3, 2010


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