The WLA project was started in 2004 to create "An Ontology-Driven Interface for Viewing Synchronized Lectures and Notes", supported by the estate of former alumnus Larry Weiner. Here is the original abstract, from our technical report:
For several years, the lectures in our introductory Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) courses have been videotaped and webcast, mainly as an aid to students with time conflicts that prevent them from attending class. We present the Weiner Lecture Archives -- a project to identify, archive, filter, and make available the best of these lectures with their notes on the web. We provide a hierarchical, ontology-driven interface to entire courses, which allows users to choose any topic and/or subtopic to view, from a small snippet of one lecture to one that spans many lectures. Once the topic is chosen, our system launches RealPlayer to play the lecture video in one window while showing synchronized lecture notes or slides in another window. By the spring of 2007, we had finished encoding our department's entire four-course introductory sequence into this system. Student use and feedback has been encouraging, and we hope to expand to other EECS courses in the near future.This was in the era before massive open online courses (MOOCs), which took WLA to the logical next level. So, rather than just videos shot from a camera in the classroom and synchronized notes, MOOCs add assessments, a learning community, certification, and higher production value videos (often shot in a studio), giving students the feeling the instructor is talking directly to them. UC Berkeley has since partnered with edX as the platform for delivery of these courses, and with the funding of MOOCs for our non-majors course (CS10) and first two courses (CS61A and CS61B, in preparation), we have decided to retire the WLA website with its decade-old course videos and notes.
We are deeply grateful to the Larry Weiner estate for helping us get the ball rolling in terms of sharing our courses with the world; what we learned in those early years certainly affected the design of the next generation of courses.
Dan Garcia, 2017-02-02