100 Days to Greatness: The Potential of Web Video for Learning

The other day it stuck me that we are just beginning to tap the potential of web video for things like learning and education. As video distribution costs fall and the next 2 billion people start using powerful smartphones, we are bound to see an increase in the pace of innovation.

The thing that got me started thinking about this was a TechCrunch blog post called The “Dance In A Year” Video Becomes A Platform For Anyone To Learn A Skill In 100 Days.

The meat of the post is about how Karen Cheng taught herself to dance in 100 Days while watching video and taping herself. The timelapse video of her progress is pretty cool.

What's even cooler is the story of how a woman with MS who had lost the ability to walk contacted Karen after being inspired by her video. Karen did some coaching and the woman embarqued on a journey to teach herself how to walk in 100 days. You can see her progress below.

This in turn inspired Karen to start a site called 100 that helps encourage people to learn a new skill in 100 days by sharing a 10 second video clip documenting their daily progress.

I've always thought about video in terms of communication, but it's interesting to see it used as a form of motivation and self discipline. In this case, video provides a way to track progress and it provides a visual indicator of how a bunch of baby steps really add up quickly.

The community aspect of watching other people's progress towards reaching their goals provides some additional inspiration for those days when you don't feel like practicing your dance steps while waiting at the bus stop.

This site is an example of Chris Anderson's thesis that YouTube is accelerating innovation. Essentially, the former Wired Magazine Editor believes YouTube becomes a melting pot where people can watch a video, assimilate its contents, and adapt it in the space of hours. The global reach connects far flung communities with different influences, and speeds the transfer of information. As an example, he cites the League of Extraordinary Dancers founder and Filmmaker, John Chu who said:

Dancers have created a whole global laboratory online for dance, where kids in Japan are taking moves from a YouTube video created in Detroit, building on it within days and releasing a new video, while teenagers in California are taking the Japanese video and remixing it with a Philly flair to create a whole new dance style in itself. And this is happening every day.

Of course, it's about so much more than dance. Dance is just one area where video has unleashed a fury of innovation. Between things like iTunes University, the Khan Academy, and open courseware sites like Coursera, video is changing everything in education.

We are living in a world where people around the globe learn from some of the best teachers on the planet at very little cost. Sometimes this education comes from a formal teacher, and other times, it comes in a more decentralized fashion from peers in the same community.

So as you head off into your Thanksgiving break (at least in the states), it's a nice time to think about your craft, how you can step up your game, and whether there are opportunties for you teach others for fun (or profit) on YouTube, Udemy, or specialty sites like Chase Jarvis' brainchild creativeLIVE that recently raised $21.5 million to accelerate its drive to bring creative education to a global community.