Professor James R. Carey's Strategic Approach to Record, Broadcast and Archive UC Research Seminars Is Now a Reality
Professor James R. Carey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and former chair of the UC Systemwide Committee on Research Policy, outlined a strategic approach to recording, broadcasting and archiving UC seminars three years ago. (Watch Carey's video on "How to Webcast a Research Seminar.") (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
May 27, 2011
(Watch Carey's video on "How to Webcast a Research Seminar.")
DAVIS--Professor James R. Carey knows that the value of seminars is invaluable.
When the UC Davis entomology professor chaired the UC Systemwide Committee on Research Policy, he called for a strategic approach to record, broadcast and archive the hundreds of seminars that take place weekly on the 10 UC campuses. He presented his plan to the Systemwide Academic Council, received enthusiastic approval, and then launched a pilot program at UC Davis to field-test it.
Now, three years later, his strategic approach has become a groundbreaking reality. The UCTV Seminars project is online, free, and available to all.
Described as a higher-education milestone, it’s the first of its kind in the United States.
“This will not only help the UC system become a scholarly resource, but will fulfill our public service mission,” said Carey. “And the cost to capture these seminars is low--a one-time expenditure of about $200 for both the webcam and software.”
“One of the great intellectual achievements of the University of California is its ability to bring the best minds from within the university and across the world to our campuses to share ideas, spark innovation, and build collaboration,” said Peter Siegel, UC Davis chief information officer and vice provost for information and educational technology. “As Professor James Carey has demonstrated through some of his most recent work, technology offers exciting new opportunities for expanding and re-inventing these conversations.”
“Each campus,” Siegel said, “has multiple opportunities each day for faculty, students, and colleagues to join in the great dialogue that ensues within their academic seminars, conferences and colloquia. “What if these rich and exciting dialogues weren't limited to the faculty on a single campus, but in fact were available to everyone?”
“With the UCTV Seminars, we open a new chapter in providing this access not only to the citizens and policy makers of California, but to colleagues literally around the world,” Siegel said. “I am excited to see our innovative faculty at UC Davis participating in this launch and, even more, I look forward to the growing impact of the University of California in identifying and solving the many difficult challenges that face our world.”
Professor Robert Powell, chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate, agrees.
“I was sitting on the Systemwide Academic Council when Jim, as chair of the Systemwide Committee on Research Policy proposed this,” Powell said. “It was warmly received. We need every tool at our disposal to keep the high quality of UC academic programs during our unprecedented budget crisis. Jim has been especially creative in making knowledge at the forefront of scholarship available to researchers on all UC campuses for a minimal investment.”
Carey described seminars as “a treasure trove” and “one of the most forceful and efficient mechanisms for transmitting scholarly information.”
The cost to record a seminar is low--about $200 for a webcam and software, Professor Carey says. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“It takes an enormous amount of time, energy and recourses just to plan a seminar,” Carey said. “It is foolish not to invest small amount of additional time to capture and post.”
The lead author of a piece published Jan. 10, 2010 in the international journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Carey called for a UC Research Seminar Network to link seminars across the 10-campus UC system as a way to share knowledge and address financial and time constraints. It would “encourage speaker sharing, reduce travel, augment outreach and provide electronic feeds for on-demand streaming and archiving,” he wrote.
Carey said some 300 to 500 seminars take place every week across the 900 departments or programs in the UC system. This translates to more than 10,000 seminars annually, he said, and includes not only weekly departmental seminars, but monthly or quarterly talks in distinguished scholar lecture series and annual university lectures by eminent faculty.
The PLoS paper, the first ever published in the journal by the UC Academic Senate Committee, included authors from all 10 campuses, also a first.
An added benefit of the UCTV Seminars is that the general public can listen to the recordings at no cost. “Most UC research is funded by the taxpayers,” Carey said, “so it can be argued that the public should have direct if not immediate access to the results.”
“After all, we are a public university,” Carey said, “and there is no reason why the public should not have access to the information presented, ranging from cutting-edge health and medical knowledge to high school students interested in science, politics and so forth.”
Among the UC-affiliated campuses posting seminars so far: San Francisco, Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, and the UC Washington Center (UCDC). Topics range from Lake Tahoe to evolution to electronic teaching.
"This is one of those resources that is so obvious, so useful, that we can only shake our head in wonder that we did not have it years ago," said Alexander Harcourt, UC Davis emeritus professor of anthropology and ecology. “Missed a seminar? Missed a diagram in a seminar? Missed thinking about what the speaker was saying because you were concentrating so hard on writing it down? With UCTV Seminars, you no longer need to miss anything."
When Carey launched his pilot program on the UC Davis campus, the webcasting encompassed 49 seminars, including 16 in the Department of Entomology, eight in the Graduate Group in Ecology and Evolution, and 25 from a two-day conference hosted by the Humanities Digital Institute.
“The audiences were universally supportive of the webcasting operation with no evidence of distractions due to the presence of the Camtasia-webcam system,” Carey said.
Both he and UCTV officials recommend Camtasia to record the seminars due to user friendliness, low cost, compactness and portability. The Camtasia-webcam combination provides two video captures: one of the slides and the other of the speaker. “This way the content is clear,” Carey said. “It is a huge mistake to try to capture both in same viewing frame as in video camera. This is basically hassle-free and easy to operate.”
“After a modest investment of $200 for both the software and a good webcam, there are no other costs for recording the seminars and uploading them to UCTV Seminars,” said Carey, who recorded a “how-to” video on how to record a seminar. (Watch Carey's video on "How to Webcast a Research Seminar.")
Carey said he hopes the launching of the UCTV Seminars “will provide strong encouragement for researchers, seminar chairs, department heads, and others to video capture and share their seminars as well as visit this website.”
Then, they can upload them on UCTV Seminars. “UCTV did an incredible job launching the UCTV Seminars and providing leadership,” Carey said. “Although the UCTV Seminars project is new, UCTV has been gathering and disseminating UC programs for more than a decade. Now we have the UCTV Seminars online and all in one place, not spread across individual campuses.”
Carey said he is especially pleased that academia is catching up with modern technology. “Academia is slow to adopt video, thus this development will encourage greater use of this technology that virtually all other sectors of our modern society are using in communication,” Carey said. “There are many domains in which these seminars can be used, not only for on-demand viewing but in digital textbooks and teaching.”
“I envision the UCTV Seminars becoming part of a nationwide, worldwide network,” Carey said.
See archived webcasts by UC Davis Department of Entomology
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology