Education and Youtube

…for those who thought that Youtube was about to go extinct  once all those copyright videos were removed by the various industries, or those who thought that youtube had turned into a massive kitty display: youtube is thriving and redefining itself as we speak according to Henry Reich, who has found his professional niche in creating short videos to explain scientific concepts and in redefining the way science (including social science) is made not only more palatable, but also very attractive thanks to youtube. the problem, he argues is that youtube can be as much enjoyable for teaching and learning as it is challenging.

in his quite comprehensive presentation, in addition to walking us through a list of video archives that attempt to find the right way to draw attention on science education and to transmit some enthusiasm into the online spectator, he spent some time criticizing some popular sites that have produced a number of viral videos on various science related subjects.

some examples are

the Khan Academy  which can have  some compelling lectures packaged in a fairly traditional fashion and thus fail to attract the distracted, entertaining-seeking audience

RSA Animate which according to Reich is brilliant, but seems to take too much time writing down concepts and sometimes fails to catch up with the lecturer

Radio Lab as interesting as sometimes monotonously slow

I don’t argue against his point, it is true that some examples found in these portals can be quite uninspiring. however, I was left a bit disappointed that Reich decided to ignore the fact that the lectures featured on these sites can be very different. who would not remember the highly entertaining RSA animates featuring clown-academic Zizek (clown in a good way, and yes, I find him entertaining in person and on rsa, just a bit more…polished and less agitated on the latter)? and how about the audience? as an adult woman academic I have my personal taste and have no patience for certain childish videos clearly targeted to a younger male non-academic crowd.

So I asked him what was the demographic of his channel, Minute Physics and he confirmed what I was suspecting: his audience is mostly young, english speaking, male. Yet, I think I am going to visit his channel more often, because his short videos are simple and appealing enough also for people like me