The University of Texas—Austin's Cockrell School of Engineering has tried to fully engage its undergraduate students via YouTube, and Juan Garcia, the school's new media manager, hopes other departments in the 48,000-student institution will follow suit.
As part of the major YouTube initiatives at Cockrell, for instance, undergraduate nuclear engineering students are asked to make short films in which they creatively, and simply, explain complex concepts in their field. "The byproduct is that these engineers who are historically not great communicators, because that's not something they're taught as they go through these programs, will start learning to communicate, in three minutes, these complex thoughts and processes of engineering," Garcia says.
Another step colleges may soon take, Garcia says, will be to move beyond lectures or webcam office hours to make sophisticated—and intriguing—productions. For instance, Cockrell produced a video diagram of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that led to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer. Garcia is using his background in television production to make the engineering videos more captivating to any student who may stumble upon them online.
"It started the wheels spinning in people's minds about what those possibilities are," he says. "Not the same brown-bag seminar, one-camera style. We'll try to do these glossy, episodic productions."
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