[Citizendium-l] Our new educational video contest/program: WatchKnow

Larry Sanger sanger-lists at citizendium.org
Tue Jun 17 16:06:34 EDT 2008


Finally, here is the announcement I've been promising for the last couple of

We're now starting to spread the word about a major new Citizendium program.
This initial announcement is meant to be low-key (no press release yet).  I
wanted you Citizens to be the first to receive it.

WatchKnow will be a free, non-profit, K-12 educational video contest.  It is
currently under planning and development.  See http://www.watchknow.org for
a long FAQ.

Here's the basic idea.  Imagine tens of thousands of excellent short videos
explaining nearly every topic taught in U.S. public schools.  WatchKnow will
be a free (open content), non-profit beta project, to launch probably this
fall, to see whether we can create that.  We will set the topics and invite
teachers--and everyone--to submit videos.  Videos will be rated, and, at a
certain point, we'll select a winner for each topic.  We'll pay the
winner(s) within each topic a small prize(s), such as $75 and $25, but the
amounts have not be decided firmly yet.  We might award substantially more
for certain topics.  You could think of it as an American Idol for teachers,
but we are not affiliated with American Idol.  The project is being carried
out as a new program of the Citizendium Foundation, with funding from a
retired Memphis millionaire who wishes to benefit American education.

We hope to launch the beta project this fall.  We will be spreading the word
this summer, to attract school teachers and others to help staff the program
in various ways.  We hope within the next few weeks to hire a technical
person to actually build the beta system.  See the ad here:

For future updates, please add yourself to the announcement list:
http://mail.citizendium.org/mailman/listinfo/watchknow-l  You can discuss
the new program here on the CZ forums: http://tinyurl.com/4ob9fd

I have been asked to lead the program.  So, you wonder, why have I agreed?
First, the aforementioned Memphis philanthropist has been very generous in
supporting the Citizendium, as an incentive to us to work on this project.
(He doesn't want to be named, by the way.)  He has been very persistent for
over a year in recruiting me (and us) to get this project started.  Second,
it is largely in keeping with our overall mission of bringing online
communities together, to create reliable, free, and (broadly) educational

I suppose it's often this way in life--you start out doing one thing, and
you find yourself presented with excellent reasons to branch out into
something else.

If you are worried that this means I'll be quitting as Editor-in-Chief of
the Citizendium soon, please don't.  I've in fact been working on both
projects for several months now, spending *most* of my work time on CZ
rather than WatchKnow.  One exciting thing about this project, as an
opportunity for us, is that, if it succeeds very well, it might bring large
amounts of relatively "permanent" funding from a whole variety of sources.
There will be no shortage of funds for a really useful free educational
video project.  As the parent project of WatchKnow, CZ naturally stands to
benefit.  Already, we can tap the WatchKnow engineer to serve a System
Administration role for CZ as a whole.  A successful beta project will no
doubt provide us the funds to do something that I have been concerned that
we wouldn't be able to do: actually pay my successor a suitable salary!

Besides, once the system is off the ground, it should largely "run itself"
and require relatively little work from me.  If it doesn't--if it requires
heavy management--we'll hire someone to do that.

CZ's Executive Committee already knows about the project and has given our
involvement their blessing.  Several members have been rather enthusiastic
about it.  We have also received advice and help from a number of other
people, including two "big names" in the world of free culture--but I will
not release their names until the entire new WatchKnow Advisory Committee is
constructed.  We'll be looking for interested and suitable members of that
Committee--i.e., distinguished educators, ed tech gurus, and free content

I think WatchKnow will be good for CZ in another way.  While we've been
doing all right so far this year, we have not had a real "shot in the arm"
in terms of the sort of announcements, press attention, and active
recruitment efforts that punctuated our earlier months.  WatchKnow will not
only put CZ's name back in the news, it will demonstrate that we are still
very much active, expanding...and funded!  Finally, think of this: the video
project might end up being very high-profile.  There's reason to think it
will; so far, everyone who hears about the idea loves it, and the idea is
totally innovative and fills a gaping hole and need.  If WatchKnow is very
popular, it will help boost CZ, and vice-versa.  So, in sum, I'm very
comfortable with this as move strategically.

Again, here are the key links:
FAQ: http://www.watchknow.org
Mailing list: http://mail.citizendium.org/mailman/listinfo/watchknow-l  
Discussion forum: http://tinyurl.com/4ob9fd
Engineer/sysadmin ad: http://columbus.craigslist.org/eng/713663956.html

Lawrence M. Sanger, Ph.D. | http://www.larrysanger.org/ 
Editor-in-Chief, Citizendium | http://www.citizendium.org/ 
sanger at citizendium.org

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