UCTV Seminars brings knowledge to the masses

University of California Television (UCTV) recently launched a free web portal based on electronically sharing seminars that take place on every UC campus to the general public.

University of California Television (UCTV) recently launched a free web portal based on electronically sharing seminars that take place on every UC campus to the general public.

UCTVSeminars’ web portal contains recordings of academic seminars from all over the UC system and organizes the videos on a single website. Researchers from numerous fields and academic institutions are featured on the site. A user-friendly interface allows visitors to search for seminars based on speaker, event date, subject area, UC campus, host organization or conference.

“I wanted to be able to sit here at my desk and be able to watch a seminar at Berkeley, or over at the medical school, or down in San Diego,” said James Carey, professor of Entomology at Davis.

Carey spearheaded an effort to create an online broadcast system of UC seminars back in 2009 when he was chair of the University Committee on Research Policy (UCORP).

“One of the agenda items that I introduced to the committee was that I wanted to enhance the synergy across the UC system,” Carey said. “There are 10 campuses, but in the end we are still one system.”

The committee composed an academic journal on how to create such a system and submitted it to the overarching academic council. The Public Library of Science Biology (PLoS Biology), a peer-reviewed scientific journal, also featured UCORP’s paper as the first academic journal that included authors from every campus in the UC system.

Although the academic journal, “University of California Research Seminar Network: A Prospectus,” was well received by the academic council, budget cuts prevented the project from getting off the ground. Only until recently has Carey’s vision been adopted and implemented through collaboration with UCTV.

“You just need your laptop to access it. Almost anyone can do it,” said Alison Gang, communications director at UCTV. “It’s a really good way for people to connect.”

Within the UC system nearly 500 seminars take place every week. Annually that means that 10,000 seminars are held across the 10 campuses. These seminars involve 900 departments and programs within the system.

For now there is a limited amount of seminars that are available to view, however Carey and others hope that it will grow vastly within a short amount of time.

Despite the current narrow selection of the online videos, topics vary greatly. They range from subjects such as “Stroke Through the Eyes of a Clinical Practitioner” to “The Origin and Evolution of Life: A Physical Problem?”

“There are limited resources and more people who need and want this type of information,” said Patricia Conrad, professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Conrad is currently featured on UCTVSeminars as a keynote speaker for a Zoobiquity seminar. She likened the growing video library to UC Global Health Day, which serves as a showcase for global health research being done throughout the UC system. She described both the online web portal and the health conference as an important and vital sharing of information on a global scale.

“This is also a great way of promoting the UC system worldwide,” she added.

Cost and complexity of creating an online video of a seminar is relatively low, it usually will cost around $200. Carey recommends using Camtasia software and buying a decent webcam to record the seminar. Camtasia allows users to view both the slides from the seminar and the speaker.

Carey has also created a step by step video on how to correctly capture a seminar using Camtasia and a webcam which is available for viewing on the UCTVSeminars website.

Carey emphasized the importance of making these seminars available with unrestricted access.

“This is the spirit of a public university. It’s a great outreach concept as well, so that the public, along with researchers worldwide, will have access to it,” Carey said. “It’s a treasure trove of information that is available online for free.”

MAX G. RUSSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.