The man wears only a towel around his waist as he stands in a shower, speaking in quick bursts that are almost too fast to follow. But rather than hocking shower gel, he’s delivering a two-minute rapid-fire lecture on gerrymandering.
“Since you don’t want to vote for me but your friend does, we’re going to split up the district,” the man exclaims, suddenly clad in a suit and standing outside in a neighborhood.
This spoof of the Old Spice Guy ad campaign is one of 40 video entries in the first TechBurst competition, which allows students to create instructional videos based on curricula from Tech classes. The project was inspired by the Khan Academy, which features short educational videos that explain topics such as the Vietnam War and nucleophilicity.
TechBurst is one of the inaugural efforts of the Institute’s Center for 21st Century Universities.
“We see ourselves as a test bed for innovative ideas on education,” said Emily Ivey, MS PubPol 10, a research scientist at C21U who oversees TechBurst.
The first batch of videos was submitted in January and went live on YouTube in February. Tech faculty members ensured the videos met pedagogical standards, and faculty and staff voted for the three best (“Constructing the Perfect Cube” was the winner). YouTube popularity determined the crowd-sourced prize, which went to a video explaining chemical combustion.
The goal is to eventually create a database of videos that cover the entirety of Tech’s academic offerings. This would be useful to students who want additional study material, or who find the Old Spice Guy more engaging than their professor.
“We have the rigor of the Georgia Tech curriculum, but also there’s this variety of approaches,” Ivey said. “The more engaged students are, the more likely they are to understand the concept. Ultimately, we want to create a library for faculty and a chance to learn for people all over the world.”