Academics looking for a way to engage and educate the public through video clips now have a platform. It’s called Vidoyen (combining the words “video” and the French word for dean, doyen), and it was launched last year by a Toronto technology lawyer.
A visit to the site during the winter Olympics featured videos answering the questions “What would be a typical diet of a winter Olympian?” and “How much sleep does an athlete need during the Olympics?”
And at the height of Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s notoriety, academics weighed in on whether Ford should step down, and which Shakespearean character he most resembled (Irene Ogrizek, a professor of English Literature at Dawson College in Montreal, argued convincingly in favour of Falstaff).
“People have described the platform as TED talks meets Twitter,” says Arshia Tabrizi, Vidoyen’s creator. “The idea is to increase public profile for academics … but also to engage with the public. It’s a video blogging platform, but built for integration with social media” such as Twitter.
Mr. Tabrizi has lectured at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and faculty of applied science and engineering on technology and start-ups. His interest in public engagement led to the development of Vidoyen, which he believes can increase public appreciation of the work of academics and universities.
Academics get two to three minutes to make their spiel on videos they can film themselves with their cameras or computers. Close to 100 academics have signed up on the platform, primarily from Canada and from the United States, he says.
Roger Keil, a professor of urban studies in the faculty of environmental studies at York University, started using Vidoyen last May. He has posted three videos, including two on Rob Ford which garnered over 1,300 hits each, making him the third most-viewed academic on Vidoyen last year. “It’s like a pop song almost, where you have to have some kind of hook” to get attention, he says, adding, “I think academics should learn shorter formats” such as this for greater accessibility.
In January, a handful of Canadian professors also started testing Vidoyen as an educational technology platform. While it’s still in the testing phase, the platform is free of charge for those who qualify to use it. In the longer run, says Mr. Tabrizi, “we might have ads on the site, or some sort of fees, but it’s too early now to know exactly how we’ll monetize it.”
Professor Keil gives his opinion on whether Rob Ford should step down