WatchKnowLearn is a free, non-profit, K-12 repository of educational videos. The website aggregates and organizes videos found on existing websites, as well as inviting users to upload original content. The vision of the company is for the community to organize into one, super directory, the plethora of education videos already available on the Internet, and to invite teachers, instructors, and educators to review, approve, and assign videos into appropriate categories suitable for children between the ages of 1–18.[1]


Early Development (2006–07)

WatchKnowLearn was founded in 2006 by Tom Pittman, president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi. Funding for the project came from a retired Memphis, Tennessee businessman and philanthropist who began conversations with Pittman, having meet him through the Foundation, and having a desire to fund research into using technology to help students learn better.[2] Pittman and the aforementioned philanthropist then sought out the expertise of Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of the Citizendium to act as the project's Executive Director. In November 2007, began development with the intention of having a fully functional website by fall 2008. [3]

The philanthropist's original idea was an "American Idol for teachers", however Sanger felt the project should be pursued online since there was already educational videos that just needed to be organized and made findable.[4]

WatchKnow (2008–10)

Originally named WatchKnow, in the fall of 2008 initial coding of the project was complete, and there was a quiet "beta launch". This version of the system underwent a very rigorous evaluation, but they decided to defer launching the site until more testing was finished. The beta project had initially been planned to consist of 500 topics, allowing contributors to sign up and submit videos under any of those topics, and where anyone could rate videos according to how well it corresponded to the content.[3] As it turned out, this limitation on topics wasn't necessary and the system developed into what exists today.

Early planning of WatchKnowLearn stressed its uniqueness from YouTube and TeacherTube in that, (1) the topics are assigned in advance, (2) the goal of completely covering the American K-12 curriculum, (3) offering cash prizes for top-rated videos, and (4) videos will be rated in part by experts, not just by the general public.[3] This original planning also did not come to fruition. Topics were never assigned and the role of teachers became predominate in the rating system, with the most distinguishing feature being the development of the wiki-edited directory. Cash prizes for incentive also proved to be unsuccessful.[citation needed]

In mid-2009, many teachers, and some librarians, were hired to add videos and edit the directory. By spring 2010, boasted over 15,000 hand-selected videos, with hand-edited information, in over 3,000 categories.[1]

WatchKnowLearn (2010–2011)

WatchKnowLearn reorganized to meet its growth and business needs, inviting Joe Thomas, PhD to head the organization as its new CEO. By the fall of 2010, WatchKnowLearn had exceeded 20,000 videos in its directory, and had partnered with and added 300 additional volunteers from the Digital Opportunity Trust organization, and had hired four additional, part-time editors.[1]

At the 2010 Delta Tech Summit, Dr. Larry Sanger stated: "How many educational videos are online?... I gradually discovered anyway, as we started building up our database, that my estimate was off by a few orders of magnitude, probably over a million videos, probably several million, and a huge number of new videos, hours and hours, thousands of hours of new videos are coming online everyday... and what percentage of those are educational? – a fair bit."[5] Sanger further states: "You can think of this repository as a repository of pre-packaged lecturing, of not just any old lecturing, but the very best lecturing, which then frees up the teacher to act as a tutor and guide, allowing the student to work at his own pace." [6] In the summer of 2010, with the design and development of the original concept of WatchKnowLearn complete, Dr. Sanger stepped aside as Executive Director to begin development of several special projects.

Web 2.0

WatchKnowLearn plans to index over 50,000 educational videos by the end of 2011. The website invites broad participation in a new kind of wiki system, guided by teachers. In 2009, Bill Pittenger, Business Edge Project Manager, states: “We were able to create innovative functionality, including the very practical drag and drop directory features, which will bring to the next level of Web 2.0 design”.[7] A toolbar feature allows users to add videos instantly from other video sites. Edits are logged and features include being able to upload videos via FTP, directly from a video camera, which can then be edited on the website itself. With this editing software it is possible to break the video apart into different categories, edit out silence and irrelevant information, add subtitles to make the video more useful. [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 About & Vision. WatchKnowLearn. Retrieved on August 18, 2011.
  2. Tom Pittman, (Unknown News Anchor) (Apr 5, 2010) (in English) (SWF/FLV/Flash/h.264). WatchKnow. Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi ((Videotaped – News)). Memphis, TN: ABC 24 Memphis, TN. Event occurs at 0:40. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Internet Archive. Retrieved on August 18, 2011.
  4. Dr. Larry Sanger, Amy Lutz (Apr 5, 2010) (in English) (SWF/FLV/Flash/h.264). WatchKnow. Wikipedia Co-founder Larry Sanger ((Videotaped – News)). Columbus, OH: Fox 28. Event occurs at 0:20. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  5. Larry Sanger (May 19, 2010) (in English) (SWF/FLV/Flash). Delta Tech Summit: Dr. Larry Sanger (Video). Greenville, Mississippi: TeachUpTV. Event occurs at 1:18. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  6. Larry Sanger (May 19, 2010) (in English) (SWF/FLV/Flash). Delta Tech Summit: Dr. Larry Sanger (Video). Greenville, Mississippi: TeachUpTV. Event occurs at 9:22. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  7. Business Edge Works with Wikipedia Co-Founder to Launch Retrieved on August 24, 2011.
  8. Larry Sanger (May 19, 2010) (in English) (SWF/FLV/Flash). Delta Tech Summit: Dr. Larry Sanger (Video). Greenville, Mississippi: TeachUpTV. Event occurs at 22:10. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article WatchKnowLearn, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Author(s): Search for "WatchKnowLearn" on Google
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