Crash Course is a Youtube channel featuring numerous educational videos on a wide range of topics. From literature to psychology and chemistry to ecology, the series tackles the fundamentals of numerous subjects in 5-10 minute videos. What makes Crash Course unique among many of the educational youtube channels is how successful it is at making their videos both engaging and accessible, without cutting corners on accuracy. The videos ratain one’s attention and don’t become overwhelming. The speaker in the videos, John Green, manages to explain often complex topics in a way that almost anyone can understand and learn from.
One of the more popular series of these videos is Crash Course: World History.
This series attempts to teach about numerous subjects in world history, such as debt and famine, in an entertaining, yet factual way. In this I think it succeeds far better than many museum exhibits. Unconstrained by the need for physical objects or space, and not needed to remain focused on specifics times or places. Crash Course videos tackle these broad subjects with examples from throughout history. If you’ve ever been curious about debt and it’s history, but don’t have time to read a 500 page book on the subject, then the Crash Course video on it does an excellent job explaining several prevalent theories about money and debt from the classical beliefs of Adam Smith to the more modern theories of David Graeber.
What I think makes this video series great is it’s mass appeal. These are videos that could be shown to school-age children in a classroom, enjoyed by an adult or home, or shown to friends as a neat youtube channel. In this way, and due to the nature of the internet, Crash Course becomes exponentially more accessible to the public at large than any museum can hope to be. Obviously, this creates a certain risk, since the people behind Crash Course don’t have the kind of pressure to be completely accurate that museums do. They won’t be fired for being wrong and could easily present a skewed version of facts to push their own agenda. Fortunately, this is where a particular strength of the internet as a whole comes in. With so many thousands of fans, if a video were to be grossly inaccurate, the comments on the video would be filled with calls for corrections, and in fear of losing fans, the Crash Course series has a strong desire to remain as accurate and impartial as possible, while remaining entertaining and accessible.
The internet as thoroughly transformed the way in which people get information today. Unfortunately, due to it’s nature the amount of inaccurate information available is quite large and often a problem. Fortunately, there plenty of people out there, from those behind wikipedia to those behind Crash Course, who strive to make sure there is accurate information available, and in the case of Crash Course, that it be entertaining and accessible to as many as possible. This democratization of information is the same thing so many museums are attempting to do today with their generally smaller audiences.