WITH more than a million YouTube hits, Chris Tisdell is the equivalent of a best-selling author or chart-topping musician. And the unlikely subject of this mass popularity? University mathematics.
Dr Tisdell's channel on the file-sharing website has 5000 subscribers who follow his University of NSW mathematics lectures. In April, views hit the 1 million mark.
Not all the viewers are local - his main audience is in the United States and India - and not all are students.
''I had an email the other day from an 86-year-old saying, 'I'm in an old folks home and I enjoy revisiting things that I learned when I was a student,''' he said.
The University of NSW has a Partner in Education relationship with YouTube and Dr Tisdell has had his own channel on the website since 2008. The broadcasts are unsophisticated. Some run for up to an hour, yet they attract thousands of hits.
''The idea of a lecture is to effectively communicate an idea and if you can't do that then it's essentially a waste of time,'' he said. ''I remember making lots of mistakes in lectures … my videos are not Hollywood blockbusters, they're reality TV. It's warts and all.''
The presentation of free online lectures through platforms such as YouTube EDU and the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) website continues to soar. UNSW Media says its presence on UNSWTV and YouTube put the university in the top 10 educational websites on the server since 2007, and the only university outside the US to rate in the top 50.
The next step for Dr Tisdell is a free electronic textbook to complement his other work. His first foray, Engineering Mathematics, is in the top five most downloaded texts on ebook publisher Bookboon's website.
Authors receive a small royalty for a book that is published in PDF format that can be downloaded free from the site.
Source: SMH Photo: Tamara Dean