Saturday, January 31, 2009

DotSUB and Networked Learning

I had an interesting conversation this morning with Michael Smolens, founder of He got me thinking (even more) about the power of community, what that means for networked learning, and what networked learning could mean for the world community.

I learned about dotSUB when someone contacted me for permission to translate The Networked Student. It has been translated into Czech, Portuguese, and far. That had nothing to do with me. But, now people in other parts of the world have the opportunity to hear that message in their native language and consider the possibilities.

Check out the documentary, Zeitgeist, over 288,000 views, translated into twelve far. There's a lot of potential to build community here.

Michael challenged me to consider some of the implications to education. Immediately, I think of the opportunity for language learners to view translations, or better yet create them. That almost seems trite when you start to think about the implications for connecting with people all over the world, the opportunity to expose our students to the work of others, to share their work beyond the boundaries of language. Consider this quote from Teachers without Borders. "Brains are evenly distributed throughout the world. Education is not."

Ponder beyond the immediate value to our students and imagine the reach of every teacher and student in the world extended to a global audience. The possibilities are mind boggling. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative intrigued me. Its educational component has not been as successful as I (and others) had hoped. But the project certainly had an impact on the development of less expensive computing and networking devices. As more developing countries gain access, there will be greater opportunities to collaborate. Language barriers are challenging but not insurmountable, especially with the world community contributing to the translation process.

What do you think? Beyond the obvious, what is the educational potential of programs like dotSUB?

To see the subtitles in the languages available, click on the drop box in the navigation bar below the video.