Friday, November 14, 2008

Academic Worldwide knowledge is "migrating" to Slovenia

In October MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) transferred their educational online service with video content to Slovenian VideoLectures.NET web portal, the world's leading portal of this type.

VideoLectures.NET service is a result of a team of researchers at the Center for knowledge transfer in information technologies, that operates as a part of the Slovenian science Institute Jozef Stefan (IJS). MIT will be followed by Berkeley, Yale, CERN, Oxford, Cambridge, University of Ljubljana, and Harvard, which are already in a process of signing an arrangement with the Center. The Head of the Center, Mitja Jermol, told us something more about the extraordinary success of Slovenian researchers.

Mitja Jermol at Stanford after Stanford Conference in 2008, Ljubljana
(source: Vibacom)

VIBACOM: What is the Center for Knowledge Transfer? Which are your achievements?
MJ: The Center for Knowledge Transfer at the Josef Stefan Institute deals with educational, promotional and other infrastructural initiatives which connect the research side of academia and the industry. The main goal of the Center is to promote knowledge, research achievements and new technologies through various distributional models and channels. The aim of the Center is, at the same time to become an important and recognizable factor in the field of knowledge transfer and promotion of high quality educational content in Europe and the world.
We are building a "virtual learning" community to contribute to a more efficient relationship between science and industry, and promotion of Slovene knowledge within the world community. The two main projects that we created are VideoLectures.NET and IST World.
The Center develops and prepares carefully designed educational events, such as seminars, workshops, conferences and summer schools. Next year we will organize the "European Conference on Machine Learning and Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases (ECML PKDD)". At this event we will host 500 researchers from the field of Machine Learning. We are also on the list for hosting the 2012 major World Wide Web Conference.

VIBACOM: Universities across the world are deciding on transferring their video educational contents on your portal VideoLectures.NET. Why is your portal of such interest for institutions like MIT, BERKELEY and YALE?
MJ: Our portal is interesting mostly because no one in this field of work has such advanced technical solutions which are at the same time supported with high quality academic content and vice versa. A strong point is that all the content is freely available.

VIBACOM: What is the key advantage of your portal?
MJ: The solutions and technologies we are developing together with our partners, the links to major institutions in the field, a solid financial backbone which is provided through the EU research projects and the trademark which we provided in the last two years.

VIBACOM: Who are the main users of the portal?
MJ: The user as such is actually the worlds learning community; students, teachers, professors. Together with the technical aspect we work on establishing a network of servers within different universities around the world. With this we would like to provide easier access of these contents to students in Africa, South America and wherever the accessibility to these contents is, at the moment, just a dream.
We regard VideoLectures.NET as a "YouTube for science". The main function of both portals is quite similar, both work as web portals for video contents. The difference is that the VideoLectures.NET initiative is of high quality academic nature. We try to promote only those contents that are editorially proven through different channels like curriculums at universities, editorial boards at conferences, etc. The portal has many functionalities and has many innovative contents.
CT3 team (source: Vibacom)

VIBACOM: What was the development time span, and which were the key points?
The development of the portal had three phases, the first one being the enthusiastic beginnings and the first attempts with the camera eight years ago. After this followed an incubational period from 2005 where we built up the portal with the help of resources for educational purposes within the EU projects in which the Center was involved. Later the portal got its current appearance in 2007 and we regard this as the third phase where the major world universities decided to cooperate with us. These are Yale, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Ljubljana.

VIBACOM: What are the next steps?
MJ: We are transforming our conceptual idea into a "state of the art" model of contents and knowledge, which are comprised of intelligent knowledge subjects, and concentrated around lectures on video. We want to support the videos with new technologies from the field of semantic and contextual web based solutions. Strategically we want to stay at the top as providers of educational contents and in the league of video providers alongside YouTube and iTunes. We want to show the world that Slovenia has many interesting people, great professors and crazy radical ideas.

VIBACOM: What does your success mean within the Slovene scientific sphere?
MJ: For the Slovene scientific scene our success is proof that Slovenes are capable of many things and that high quality science can be found here, and simultaneously is at a world level. It is a confirmation that Slovenia's mind set is not behind, but in a leading position of active trend - setting in the educational sphere. In other words as our partners at MIT commented; "We have learnt a lot from these guys!"

The CT3 team with their enthuziazm and uniqueness opened the door to Slovenian innovation on the global scale. Their success is in global integration of various stakeholders of innovation space (scientific and academic sphere, economy, law and the EU structures, ...) on a realy high-quality educational content. Their service also has a wider social dimension, as it allows access to scientific data, including those at the other end of the world, which otherwise could not be accessable.

In the name of Vibacom team.
Violeta Bulc and Estera Lah

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