To showcase your academic experts, forget TV and embrace Ustream… like Duke University

July 31st, 2009 Karine Joly 10 Comments

Duke University has done it again.

With “Office Hours,” a new series in partnership with Ustream launched today at noon ET, the institution has found another great way to showcase the expertise of its faculty.

The idea – put a professor in front of the camera for an informal Q&A with the university community and Ustream viewers – looked interesting on paper (well, I mean on the web) when I saw the announcement yesterday on Duke Today.

That’s why I was in front of my screen today at noon ET to see if its implementation could meet my expectations.

It did.

Duke University has again written a page of higher ed web history (can’t you see I really liked what I experienced? I bet you can).

Accessible right from the Ustream homepage, the 45-minute (?) long office hour with Professor Ariely gathered more than 150 viewers. Questions could be asked via email, on a dedicated Facebook page – broadcasting live the stream – as well as on Twitter.


I asked the first question via Twitter and it was promptly answered by Professor Ariely (around 9:00 in the recording).

You cannot imagine (well, you probably can, but I’m emphatic today) how excited I was to be able to ask a question – while at lunch – to a Duke professor and get the answer in a matter of minutes.


Just great.

Watch the recording – made available a few minutes after the end of the event- and I’m sure you will agree (if you don’t, please tell me why. That’s why comments are for)

Please note that the recording takes 39 seconds to start – so be patient if you watch it from the video player below.

Who needs television when you can actually interact with experts at this level?
Who needs television when you can actually demonstrate the expertise of your faculty to the world?

So, I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before other institutions follow in Duke’s footsteps and we see more of these “Office Hours” with faculty all around the country (world, should I say).

What do YOU think?

10 Responses

  1. Very cool! I could see this being a great tool for admission offices doing online chats. You can convey a lot more information with a video chat than with a text chat.

    I think we will see more and more schools embracing technology like this.

  2. Bradjward says:

    Agreed!! uStream is going to see a lot more action in the edu space over the coming months. When I used it for an admissions chat last October ( is was a totally different experience. Very dynamic and appealing to the students, and the measurable results were very encouraging.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Karine Joly says:

    Thanks, Mark and Brad for your comments

    @Bradjward – I know (remember) you used it for the admissions chat and it has been done elsewhere since then – including with other tools.

    However, I think this is something totally different. We’re not talking about admissions Q&A, but a conversation with a recognized scholar (I’m not implying that you’re not big game in your practice, Brad, but I think there’s definitely a broader appeal in this case).

    Moreover, the quality of the production (while keeping it within most institution’s reach) does make a difference. When I was watching this Q&A, I felt like I were on a 1-1 conversation with Professor Ariely — and I think it was designed to look like this.

    I showed the recording to somebody who attended a large university and his first comment was that it would be really cool to follow a lecture this way, instead of sitting in a 500-seat lecture hall.

    There is some magic to live streaming whether it is for interviews, Q&A, webinars or news covering.

    And, this slightly produced – yet very informal – format looks better than the usual streams from conferences, video chats or other events.

    It is designed for immediacy, it is designed for interactivity. It is authentic, unscripted yet very professional.

  4. […] To showcase your academic experts, forget TV and embrace Ustream… like Duke University (tags: ustream universities colleges education reachingstudents video officehours faculty content) […]

  5. Bradjward says:

    It depends on your audience. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many prospective students who want to chat in this type of environment with a recognized scholar. (Perhaps even my age range!) The broader point is that the integration of uStream into an experience is an underutilized tactic, and regardless of the audience or quality, institutions should be looking at how they can provide an experience to the potential audience.

  6. Brenda Golden says:

    I also watched it live and submitted a question in advance; it was addressed and answered. I truly felt a part of the event. I think this would also work for “distance learning” such as online classes, etc. Maybe not every class but a check in live every so often.

  7. Lisa Alvey says:

    Stanford is doing something very similar on Facebook. I believe they launched in early spring (March?) of this year. Fantastic idea!

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Karine Joly says:

    Lisa, Stanford doesn’t use live streaming to answer questions as explained in the press release about their Open Office Hours on Facebook:

    The Stanford Open Office Hours begins with an introductory video from a faculty member on the Facebook page, inviting questions from participants, who post questions and comments. In subsequent weeks, the professor will answer questions on video.

  9. I wonder how Duke marketed this? I can see using this technique to reach targeted audiences. In this case, the audience appeared to be broad, which is good in one sense. But what if Duke had targeted this to a discreet set of business people (potential donors)? I can imagine a live office hours Q&A with a transplant doctor that could command a large audience of doctors around the country, burnishing a med school’s reputation among an important audience.

    This has great potential.

  10. Alice Myers says:

    I think this is fantastic and shows Duke continues to lead the way.

    This Ustream is very interesting. Both founders are Army vets:

    I like their story.

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