ECpod, Video-sharing Can Be Used For Language Learning

[Ed: There have been a lot of press talking about China’s new regulation that only state-owned or state-controlled companies can render online video. This regulation is published by Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), and it has taken effect since January 31, 2008. The very latest rumour is that Tudou, the No.1 Chinese video-sharing site will be punished,and the punishment might be a Shutdown. It is quite shocking, isn’t? I would not believe it.

The success of YouTube tells us the huge potential of User Generated Content (UGC), then we have hundreds of YouTube clones entertaining us, then we all understand the beauty of web 2.0. Understanding the web 2.0 seems so easy? ECpod.com is a site showing online videos too. It is not a commercial one, but it tells us something new: Video is not only for fun, online video-sharing market can go education too. ]

ecpod-logo ECpod.com is a web site that allows members to teach each other English and Chinese using videos. They contribute videos on this site and members can watch it for free. ECpod also has social networking features, so the users can make friends with each other and build communities for learning languages.

ECpod was launched about 1.5 years ago, initially it was just a site for learning mandarin. The feedback was good, but not great. Soon the founders found that the members (mostly teachers and students) wanted a bilingual platform to learn and teach each other both Mandarin and English. The founder told me the story:

Then students told us they wanted a fun learning web site and would prefer to watch videos produced by other members rather than professional clips done by our company. They wanted to feel they were watching real people who chose the topics they wanted to teach, rather than yet another teaching site copied from a textbook – they had enough textbooks. And, because they wanted a say in what content material was taught, they wanted to do some of the teaching themselves. Hence, we refocused our in-house language tutors – instead of creating most of the material, they instead vet the material created by our members. We even welcome mistakes and colloquialisms in the contributed clips – it gives a more genuine, warm feeling that everyone is learning from everyone else – and we include a note in the transcript with the correction, of course. After watching a video, members who have questions can drop the Producer an email asking for more information…

ECpod is founded by a investment banker and a lawyer, both live in HongKong. There are 19 people, teachers, university students, consultant, secondary school students etc now in the team. “ECpod will not intend to charge any subscription fee to members in the foreseeable future. It is all about the passion and hobby.”, I was told, “Our vision is to create a community bringing China and the rest of the world closer together – contacts formed, friendships made, learning the language along the way”.

Reading through a very long email from the co-founder of Ecpod, I see a very purified concept of web 2.0: User contributes the content, then finds the real value from it.

Check this video below where a pretty Chinese girl is talking about Hutong in Beijing. She has a bit Chi-English accent, but I think I feel a real web 2.0.