Content Communities

Content communities allow users to share online multimedia materials. Popular content communities include YouTube, Flickr, and SlideShare. After registering for an account, individuals upload their materials, describe them, and make them publicly available. Visitors search the content communities by keyword, subscribe to individual users, and provide feedback on the content.

How content communities enhance undergraduate research
Image courtesy of Webtreats etc. Some rights reserved.

Resources - Content communities are essentially online databases of multimedia content. Just like geological databases, users can search content communities for information that is related to their research. One might subscribe to the Scripps podcast for updates about marine geology or to the National Science Foundation's YouTube channel for the latest science news. Advisers can also generate content to make parts of the research process more efficient, like videos to train students on lab techniques.

- The creation of multimedia content (e.g., videos, podcasts) requires effective communication skills. Authors learn to convey scientific information through the effective use of images, video, music, and dialogue. Because content is typically available for public comment, a content community can mirror the process of peer review in scientific discourse. Authors can use the comments section to discuss the content and revise the material.

- Multimedia presentations that describe the undergraduate research experience are effective recruiting tools. In content communities, users can find undergraduates describing their research experiences, faculty discussing the process of mentoring, and institutions advertising research opportunities.

Where to start

Determine the type of content you would like to share online. Register for an account and upload your videos, photos, or presentations. Tag and describe your online materials. You can search for online content without becoming a member, but you will typically be required to create a profile if you would like to provide feedback on the content. When you discover users that regularly posts content of interest, subscribe to their channel or join their group.

Know copyright law - Be sure to abide by fair use and copyright regulations when sharing content on the web. Consider licensing your work through Creative Commons and using their search engine to locate materials. The 50+ Ways Wiki has an excellent list of places to find audio, video, and images. Always read the user agreement and be aware of who owns the content published through the community.

Get help - Consult your instructional technology department for help with generating multimedia content. Instructional technology specialists also have useful strategies for teaching students how to work with multimedia. Use online sources that have tips for creating podcasts and videos. Also contact academic support centers and librarians for help with literature searches, writing, and oral communication.

Invest time - To find useful resources in content communities, you'll likely spend a significant amount of time searching. When generating content, expect that it will take some time to learn the software and search for licensed media files. Adjust your research schedule to include time for drafts, reflection, and revisions before making the content public.

Examples of content communities

  • YouTube - allows users to post and comment on videos. Users can also create and subscribe to channels.
  • Vimeo - a video content community with an additional groups function.

Where to find more information