David Puttnam

by Louise Roseingrave

OSCAR winning producer Lord David Puttnam is set to deliver online interactive lectures to students worldwide from his converted coach house in Skibbereen.

The Chariot’s of Fire producer and champion of innovative education has taken a leap into the future by breaking down global geographic barriers.

The technology could lead to legendary names like Martin Scorsese interacting with students on a global scale, according to Lord Puttnam.

“Marty would grab something like this and run with it. I gave a lecture to 2,700 students at the Beijing Academy last week.

“The opportunity for them to talk to interact with Scorsese would be phenomenal but you are not going to get him on a plane, taking a week out of his life to deliver a two hour lecture, it’s just not going to happen. With this technology, it could happen,” he said.

Appointed Chancellor of the Open University in 2006, Puttnam’s pioneering ideology will enable greater sharing of expert opinion to students worldwide while delivering

higher productivity opportunities by cutting out travel time and costs.

“It’s a bit like Ted interactive, you are getting the benefit of compressed wisdom but also an opportunity to ask questions,” Lord Puttnam said.

If the new venture becomes mainstream, it will bring about environmental benefits by cutting out fuel costs and lowering carbon footprints.

The 71-year-old will begin delivering his interactive lectures from his West Cork home to students at University College Cork and beyond in September.

“The whole opportunity for interactivity and frankly for me as I get older – and this is true of all kinds of professors in all kinds of disciplines around the world – the opportunity to impact, talk to and engage with universities you would otherwise never get to is colossal,” he said.

Using high definition video conferencing equipment known as ‘TelePresence” supplied by Cisco, the system has been developed in conjunction with the provision of high speed wireless internet access provided by BT Ireland’s next generation national fibre at a cost of €45,000 annually.

“I’m already teaching in Singapore and at Griffith University in Brisbane and this allows me to do alot more.

“I can link lectures, I can stream video to the students. I’ll still commute every week but I’ll be able to teach from here (Skibbereen) two days a week.

“Two years down the line that might become three days a week,” he said.

With UCC and the University of Sunderland already on board, Lord Puttnam is in advanced discussions with universities in Australia, Asia, the UK and US to deliver film, moving images and production modules to students.

The technology was unveiled in a converted outbuilding at Lord Puttnam’s house yesterday where a live interactive debate included participants in Dublin, Belfast and the UK.