Move over "Leave Britney Alone Guy," and all you cute little kitten videos, too, the University of California, Berkeley, is joining the YouTube generation, posting course lectures and other campus happenings on the popular Web site.
"To a teacher who has a passion for teaching, this is enormously exciting," said physics professor Richard A. Muller, whose "Physics for Future Presidents," is among the courses available online. "My students are everywhere and I don't have to give them exams."
Berkeley and other universities have been broadcasting a variety of courses on the Web for some time. The new venture, formally announced Wednesday, now puts the Berkeley courses on YouTube.
Watching the videos is free and for the joy of information only, you won't get course credit.
"It's not meant as a substitute for going to class. You can't interact; you can't be part of that dialogue," said Ben Hubbard, co-manager of webcast.berkeley, a local site delivering course and event content as podcasts and streaming video.
Still, there's lots of interest from people outside campus and even outside the country.
Muller gets e-mail from all over the world - "Even Timbuktu!" - and Hubbard said course videos previously distributed online through Google, YouTube's parent company, scored more than a million hits and about 700,000 downloads.
UC Berkeley launched an audio podcast program with more than 25
courses in 2006 and is slated to deliver 86 full courses (audio and/or video) and more than 100 events - 3,500 hours of content - in 2007.
More than 300 hours of videotaped courses and events are now available at http://www.youtube.com/ucberkeley and the catalog will
"People from all walks of life have access to this material," Hubbard said. "We get just a ton of notes from people who are lifelong learners."
Berkeley's courses join an eclectic mix of content on YouTube that ranges from cute pet videos to the breakout rant of the young man known as "Leave Britney Alone Guy," for his tearful defense of the singer's much-panned performance on the MTV Video Music Awards.
Muller, who started podcasting a few semesters ago and is known for presenting physics in an innovative and relatively simple to understand way, has found his audience is as diverse as it is far-flung.
"I get e-mails from high school students, I get e-mail from college students, people who graduated and never learned this stuff.
People listen to this because they enjoy learning," said Muller, who is at work on a book under the same title as his course that he plans to have ready before Election Day.
He's happy to be part of YouTube U.
"People who watch Youtube - it really becomes a habit," he said. "At some point after watching enough funny dog movies they might just say, 'I wonder if there's anything here on physics?"'