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
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.
Communication - 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.
Recruiting- 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.
Examples of content communities
- Voices of Undergraduate Research Podcasts - a series of podcasts produced by the Geosciences Division of CUR featuring interviews with undergraduate researchers. Contributions are welcome.
- iTunes - Apple's iTunes Store has thousands of freely available podcasts, including several popular natural sciences channels.
- 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.
- Flickr - allows users to find and share photos, including work licensed under Creative Commons.
- Picasa - a Google-based photo sharing community.
- GigaPan - a community that allows users to create, share, and explore GigaPan images.
- SlideShare - allows users to share PowerPoint presentations.
- VoiceThread - a novel online tool for collaborative presentations.
- 50+ Web Tools - an exhaustive list of web tools that can be used to create and share online presentations.
Where to find more information
- How a Campus Multimedia Lab Became Vital - a story from the instructional technology perspective on teaching students to generate multimedia content with useful tips and links.
- The Media Scholarship Project - a comprehensive introduction to multimedia projects, including a guide for crafting multimedia assignments.
- 10 Tips for Using YouTube in the Classroom - blog post with several useful links for adding captions to videos, removing extra content (e.g., ads, similar videos), and making videos interactive in the classroom.
- 7 Things You Should Know About YouTube, Flickr, and VoiceThread - EDUCAUSE pamphlets giving overviews of the popular video, photo, and presentation sharing sites.