Within my circle of friends I am considered rather tech-savvy but that is only by comparison to their knowledge level. For example, I have only started on the podcast interest over the past few months and I am enjoying it. While I enjoy music I am not one of those who would perpetually stuck my ears with a pair of earphones all day, everyday.
I love to play with tech gadgets and I “upgraded” my MP3 player to an iPod Classic a year ago. With a capacity of 120GB, it would take a lot to fill it up especially when I do not watch movies on it. Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I spent some of it in exploring iTunes and found iTune U. Actually I did the exploration only after I was introduced to http://www.TED.com through one of the newsletter that I signed up for. So what is the attraction?
Podcasts are audio files (MP3) and VodCasts are audio-visual files (MP4) which you can play on any MP3/4 players. So many podcasts and vodcasts are now available for free that it can be exhausting to just browse through the subjects and titles even before you start listening, watching or downloading them. But they have so much to offer in terms of both general education and entertainment. I am continually amazed by the wealth of information available.
There are a number of websites where you can find vodcasts ands podcasts which you can watch or listen to online or download them for later use. The most popular one is probably YouTube and almost everyone knows about it. However, the video clip library contains such indiscriminative subjects that makes it difficult to search for the more serious content, or so I thought until I found the Education segment within it.
Google also has their own library of educational video clips of talks, seminars, etc. uploaded by universities and other subject authoritative producers made available for free. Some of the video clips are as short as under 15 minutes to over an hour long with wide ranging subjects on various sciences, politics, literature, humanities, education, business, engineering, etc.
There is no shortage of video clips to watch and download. I like http://www.TED.com which showcases videos normally not longer than 30 minutes or so. Some are very inspiring and funny and the length of the videos is just right for the iPod to listen to on typical bus or train journey or while waiting for a friend to turn up for tea. I get a kick in thinking I am better “educated” and wiser after a bus journey listening to my iPod. No time wasted there. For me this is also the best time for pondering. I tend to daydream, looking out the window unseeingly and so some useful data injection is always welcomed. I also like to listen to audio books and podcasts when I go for a walk.
The other thing I like about TED is that some of the video clips come with subtitles of various languages and so if English is not your natural language or you are not an English speaker, the subtitle choices are of a great help. It also offers interactive transcription that links to the video clip. By clicking anywhere within the transcription will take you to the corresponding location in the video, better than clicking onto the fast-forward button.
Everyone of those I have introduced TED to enjoy the videos and I started noticing there are more and more people having them bookmarked on their iPhones.
I learned that UChannel and Academic Earth feature free online courses from universities but I have yet visited them. I probably will do that after I finish this article.
Recently I found http://www.fora.tv that also has similar offerings although those that interest me tended to run over 45 minutes. They are generally talks that include a question and answer section. Of course there are some which are only under 3 minutes too. You also have the option to bookmark and download them onto your iPhone.
If you are a neuroscience and psychology nut like me, you might find some of these interesting:
http://fora.tv/2009/11/08/Does_Darwin_Illuminate_Emotion_and_Spirituality – this is nearly 1.5 hours long.
http://fora.tv/2009/09/29/Lise_Eliot_Pink_Brain_Blue_Brain – this is about 42 minutes
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_cute_sexy_sweet_funny.html – this one is obviously funny; about 8 minutes
http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html – 24 minutes
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html – 21 minutes
http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_goleman_on_compassion.html – 13 minutes
These are just some of the video clips and I am sure you can find many more from the websites mentioned above.
There are also websites that offer free audio books. You may want to try http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video and http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/free-audio-book-and-podcast-resources/ .
I leave you with these resources that you can visit and I hope you enjoy. If you come across other interesting ones, please share them with me.