Pitzer College Professor Invites the Public to Online Class to Learn About YouTube, the Popular Videosharing Website

Claremont, Calif. (September 4, 2007)—Today Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College Professor of Media Studies, and enthusiastic students from The Claremont Colleges will commence a pedagogic experiment focusing on the potentials and limits of digital media culture. Her course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 1:10 p.m. The public is invited to watch the class or participate at www.youtube.com/MediaPraxisme.

The first university class entirely about, and primarily occurring on YouTube, the class will be largely student controlled, mirroring the structure of the site under inquiry. The ground rules are simple and few. All the class work and assignments (reading, writing, viewing, and video production) must occur on and about YouTube. The class sessions, syllabus and other materials will also be filmed and posted. Before leaving YouTube (for instance, to read scholarly writing about digital learning or corporate media control), a student-authored statement of rationale must be voted on favorably by more than half of the enrolled class members.

Professor Juhasz, an avowed YouTube skeptic and champion of democratic media said, “I decided to offer the course to learn what the fuss was all about. After finding myself decidedly under-whelmed by the offerings on YouTube, I wanted my students and the on-line community (digital boosters from a generation where on-line experience is integrated into their ways of knowing and being) to have the opportunity to learn more-- and teach me--about the potential (and pitfalls) of corporate-sponsored democratic media expression.”

After committing to the “experience,” as she describes her class, Juhasz began researching YouTube, and has since presented her largely pessimistic findings at the May 2007 meetings of the International Communications Association, and in a chapter called “Documentary on YouTube: The Failure of the Direct Cinema of the Slogan” for the collection, Re-Thinking Documentary, ed. Thomas Austin (to be published by McGraw Hill, 2008). Excerpts from her work will be made available after September 4 as course materials on YouTube, and on her blog about activist media, MEDIA PRAXIS: http://aljean.wordpress.com.

Although the themes of the course will be determined by what its students decide to learn from YouTube, Juhasz expects that critical ideas about Media Studies and contemporary culture will be raised, and that the course will be academically rigorous, if still entertaining for all who actively participate. As the class seriously undertakes Learning from YouTube, as an object, method and site of advanced education, complex contemporary concerns will be raised including on-line pedagogy, the tension between access and expertise, and the nature of forms of digital expression, control, and ownership.

Professor Juhasz invites the public to participate in this innovative and exciting class project. Visit www.youtube.com/MediaPraxisme beginning on September 4 to learn more.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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