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Peer Review


by Larry Sanger


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 11, 2010 by Teacher Education
Overview: WatchKnow is a directory of free educational videos from a variety of sources on the Web. It uses a revised wiki format that allows registered users to add additional categories and resources and encourages user ratings of educational quality of videos.
Type of Material: This site serves as an index of educational videos currently available on the World Wide Web.
Recommended Uses: Teachers can assign videos to for students to watch. They can also have students help review videos to be uploaded to WatchKnow. WatchKnow is useful as an index of peer-reviewed videos that have recognized value as learning and teaching tools. WatchKnow is also useful for the self-directed learner seeking more information or other learning support through video on a desired subject or application.
Technical Requirements: To search, find and view a video, no technical requirements beyond standard web browser is required. To add a video for review, users will need to install the WatchKnow bookmarklet to the browser. Users should have a current browser and a high speed internet connection.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Learning goal for the site is to be able to find useful and effective videos for learning and teaching. For instructional purposes, teachers would establish their own objectives according to subject matter, grade level, and content requirements. WatchKnow organizes videos into specific content areas with sub-categories, making it easy to find videos on a specific topic.
Target Student Population: This site is targeted for K-12 learners, although many materials suitable for high school students would also be acceptable for lower division college students as well.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Teachers should add the Bookmarket tool to their browser favorites so that they can add new videos to the site whenever they find an appropriate one on another site. Registration (required to add and review videos) is free.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Each instructor will need to decide if the content is appropriate for their discipline. At the time of this review there are approximately thirteen thousand videos that have been added to the collection. The creators of this site believe that there are several million videos on the web that should be indexed on the site. A search produces a list of available videos broken down between rated and unrated items. Ratings are provided as 1 - 5 stars, with five stars being "unusually helpful and well produced" and one star being "not right for WatchKnow." The FAQ for contributors provides a clear definition of rating levels and offers examples of observable qualities at each level.
Concerns: This site will only be successful if teachers participate by indexing their favorite videos. More teachers need to be made aware of this site so they can begin helping.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: WatchKnow has the potential to be a great resource for K-12 educators and parents. The videos are sorted into categories and are being reviewed. The videos with the highest reviews appear at the top of each category. The bookmarklet tool is easy to use and should facilitate growth in the number of available videos. Teachers can add the videos to classroom presentations or assign students to watch them outside of class. Learning objectives will be determined by the users: teachers will focus on specific content objectives, and self-directed learners will focus on their own needs. The rating system set up for the videos serves as a clear indicator of the potential value of any video in meeting a specified learning objective. The criteria for each rating is helpful for determining how well a specific video will work in supporting learning.
Concerns: None.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: WatchKnow has been designed to be easy to use. The categories are intuitive to navigate and can be modified to be more inclusive. Adding new content to WatchKnow is simple. The directions for adding the Bookmarklet tool to your browser is a quick process. Once this has been done, a teacher can add new content in four easy steps. 1) Go to a web page with a video, 2) Click on the BookMarklet link, 3) Add metadata, and 4) Submit. All videos available through WatchKnow are divided into content-specific categories, and each category is further subdivided to help the user find desired areas quickly and easily. Lists of videos are divided into rated and unrated. Each video listing provides a synopsis of the video content, a recommended age level, and a star rating awarded according to the rating guidelines for the site. The site is very user friendly and quick to use.
Concerns: None.

Comments from Author: You know, the only critical point in the review is just the one we're worried about--getting teachers involved as volunteers. Right now we've got five very much part-time teachers putting videos in, and we should be greatly expanding this program this year and get the count up to at least over 50,000. At some point, though, we'll be depending on volunteer teachers to update and maintain the the near term, it doesn't depend on them. Our theory is that greater content will attract greater traffic which in turn will motivate teachers to contribute. Once it's more of a "household name" among teachers I think they'll be more willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. Larry Sanger