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Weekly News Digest

March 26, 2009 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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Academic Earth Offers Free Online Educational Videos

Academic Earth, a social entrepreneurship venture focused on expanding the availability of high-quality educational opportunities for people around the globe, announced the launch of its website at The site has been in public beta since late January. Academic Earth offers free access to online video of full courses and guest lectures from leading educational institutions including Yale, Harvard, and MIT.

The catalog of video lectures, spanning nearly all major academic subjects, contains 60 full courses and 2,395 overall lectures. The lectures are presented through a user-friendly interface that allows visitors to browse by Subject, University, or Instructor. Site editors have also compiled Playlists such as "Understanding the Financial Crisis" and "Wars Throughout History" that bring together lectures from a number of institutions to provide multiple sources and perspectives on key issues. In addition to full courses, the site includes guest lectures on leadership, business, and policy from luminaries including Google co-founder Larry Page, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and others.

Visitors have reported a wide variety of uses for the site. Students have used it to supplement existing coursework, educators to study the teaching methods of other instructors, and lifelong learners for personal enrichment. Of particular interest have been the large collections of business, computer science, and engineering lectures, which have been utilized by professionals and job seekers.

Over the next 6 months, the company will integrate a variety of tools intended to harness community intelligence to complement the existing content and offer a rich learning environment. The first such feature is an A-F grading system that allows users to rate the quality of each lecture. Coming soon is an innovative Q&A system, which will allow visitors to ask questions about a video to be answered by other users. Academic Earth plans to grow its content base significantly over time, drawing on open licensed content and direct partnerships with sources including additional universities, think tanks, conferences, government agencies, and educational television programs.

Academic Earth plans to introduce a monetization platform with the goal of making the production and distribution of educational resources sustainable at a time when many university programs are facing budget cuts. The company will offer content providers the option to host content on a completely noncommercial basis or to share revenue generated through targeted marketing of educational goods and services.

Source: Academic Earth

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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