The University of Nottingham has put together Bibledex, a series of brief introductions to the books of the Bible, available through a dedicated page and also a YouTube channel. This is a magnificent step forward in practically every right way, and I fully expect to use these clips in my teaching.
“Practically every way?” I hear you ask; “How could it have been better?”
Well, for starters, the videographer seems to have retained copyright control over the clips. For an educational project, I would wish that the production be distributed under one of a variety of Creative Commons licenses. They’re not a perfect firewall against unwelcome exploitation, as Doc has reminded us more than once — but at this stage in the very awkward transition to a digitally-robust economy, it’s a benefit to cause of education (among other ideals) if educational resources are made available with an eye to the future, and that’s part of what CC licenses are about. That, and actually making more resources available to more people. And since constructive learning is the most effective and durable sort of learning, allowing people to remix the Bibledex videos would encourage learning every bit as much as, or more than, merely allowing people to watch them. (PS — make the clips easily downloadable, rather than requiring people to resort to one or another hacked solution.)
Second, and these hereafter will be “next step” suggestions more than cavils about the present implementation, I would encourage Bibledex to solicit supplementary clips to round out the picture they’re giving. Not everyone will sympathise with the angles that Nottingham’s commentators give, but Nottingham benefits if the place to go for alternative takes on the Bible remains Nottingham’s own page. So if someone at Harvard feels like producing a “No, they’re wrong” video, fine, distribute it. If someone at Aberdeen wants to make a “And another thing” video, again, look for it at Nottingham’s own site. The more the merrier, and the better for Nottingham’s standing in the digital educational economy.
Third, encourage people to produce other-media complements to this project. A Bibledex textbook (open-source, of course) would be a natural outgrowth of the project. Charts and illustrations, bibliographies and reviews, and handsomely-produced digital editions of as many relevant texts as they can compile and mark up. Give teachers and learners more stuff with which to explore, analyse, get interested and active, and all under a banner raised by the University of Nottingham. Sounds like it’s win, win, win to me.
Now, the unwelcome start. It turns out that Margaret’s transatlantic flight was cancelled, not because of marauding ash clouds, but because of good old-fashioned bad weather. She would have been rebooked for Monday — losing five days of visit and the cost of lodging, attendant transportation complications, and so on — but decided simply to buy a whole new ticket to fly out today, arriving tomorrow. It’s all quite stressful, and neither of us needed these additional concerns on top of having been apart for eight weeks or so, and not seeing one another again till the end of July, and Margaret having closed out the Baltimore chapter of her life, and her having to redistribute, store, give away, and ship our possessions from the Durham garage where Clay and Sarah have been so patiently tolerating them. Sorry for complaining; lots of people have more dire problems. These are ours, though, and they’re rather irksome.