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Mindgate launches video resource site

April 15, 2010

Mindgate Media has launched a teaching resource designed to help college instructors find videos recommended by their peers.  The plan is that professors will share their favorite videos along with teaching tips, and Mindgate will develop guides to help incorporate the material  into a lesson. Mindgate has started with content for business courses but they plan to get into other areas soon. A short “How it works” slide show on the site gives a nice summary.

Mindgate is the brainchild of Lisa Lewin, who used to be in charge of financial education at McGraw-Hill. In an email to business professors Lewin writes,

The use of dynamic, relevant video in classrooms enhances the learning experience by engaging students, illustrating complex concepts, and updating lesson plans with fresh material.  However, professors are often unable to find the “right” video for their class, even after spending countless hours searching through today’s popular video sharing sites.

All of the videos on this social media site appear to be hosted at other sites; I saw clips from Hulu, YouTube, CNN, and BigThink. Mindgate’s niche is assembling clips from a variety of sources and providing tips on how to use them. As of this writing there are 93 video clips and 31 “films” (longer items). One of the films I tried to watch was a trailer that had been removed from YouTube because of a terms of use violation. The videos are provided “educational purposes only.” I tried to wade through the terms of service for some clarification, but got bogged down in legalese.

Each item provides the following support material:

  1. Description – content summary
  2. Teaching Points – basic themes
  3. Lesson Ideas – questions for discussion
  4. More Resources – links to other material
  5. Transcript – this could be very useful (not provided for films)

To access items 2-5 you need a free account, so I signed up. It took a long time to receive the email confirmation, but I finally logged in and did some more exploration. I also submitted a video suggestion, which was not a difficult thing to do. This is not social media site in the YouTube mold; the company decides which clips are posted and edits the teaching tips

If all of the content is free, then how will Mindgate make money? A teaser on the home page reads, “Coming soon: Mindgate Premium, with rights-cleared video downloads”; the word “Premium” always translates into “you have to pay for this.” Many of the current items allow you to purchase a copy at Amazon or another outlet; surely there’s a commission for such sales.  The site has an incongruous “store” that sells books, technology, and software through Amazon. There is also advertising; a banner from Notre Dame came up with a clip from “The Office”! Finally, they are asking for PayPal donations – kind of odd for a for-profit corporation…

Going forward, a major piece of the puzzle for Mindgate will be obtaining video suggestions and teaching tips from faculty. To address this the company is running a “Show and Teach Competition” with cash prizes from $100 up to $2000. Faculty are invited to send the URL of a video they use, along with notes on how they use it. Clips for any discipline are welcome, not just business. If there’s a decent response, this will be an easy way for Mindgate to collect content. In the future, though, I think they would have more luck offering incentives like free movie downloads.

Mindgate Media seems to have a number of kinks to work out. Here’s a small example: http://mindgatemedia.com does not take you right to the videos; you have to add /business. My overall impression of the site is very positive, though. Who knows what kind of traction the service will achieve among faculty? Mindgate could fade away or it might turn into a huge success. I’m hoping for the latter.

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