education

Archival Opinion: YouTube’s Educational Program Crash Course is Incredibly Important in Our Media Age — And Here’s Why

Archival Opinion: YouTube’s Educational Program Crash Course is Incredibly Important in Our Media Age — And Here’s Why

 

Originally Written in 2016 and posted on LinkedIn.
Revisited in 2018 with updated information.

Not Sponsored by Crash Course or its parent company, Complexly. 

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Six years ago, YouTubers John and Hank Green came together with others to create innovation. A free, easily accessible, learning program. It taught you the basics of American History, World History, English Literature, and much more. This wasn’t the first time someone had made a channel or website that allowed free education. Khan Academy had been around since September of 2006, but at the time, they only taught math. John and Hank Green began to make what education was available online more accessible and more varied, proving that education can be completely free.

 

The business is mainly funded by voluntary donations. Through the service, Patreon, subscribers can give as much money as they want towards Crash Course, allowing the company to continue going. In late 2014, they also became partnered with PBS Digital Studios, allowing them a bigger budget, which then allowed for them to have more and more content as the years have gone on. As of the writing of this article, Crash Course has gathered over 5 million YouTube subscribers, and over 450 million views. They’ve also created Crash Course Kids, aimed at younger viewers.

 

As of 2018, Crash Course broke off from PBS Digital Studios and is not under the parent company Complexly, run by the Green Brothers themselves. 

 

The videos Crash Course provides are used in various schools around the world. They have also begun to create worksheets to go along with their curriculum, and those are slowly coming out to help schools teach along with their programming. Including the one show produced on Crash Course Kids, there have been twenty-one different seasons of Crash Course, all varying in topics.  

 

All of the aforementioned information explains just the beginnings of why Crash Course is so important in our day and age. It is using a medium of innovation, allowing free education to anyone who has access to the internet. With its colorful cast of hosts, it’s amazing graphics team, Thought Café, and its topics of huge interest, it makes learning fun, easy, and most importantly, available to nearly everyone. 

 

From public and private schools, to those who are homeschooled, to those who haven’t had a formal education in any form. Education, in many cases, can be very inaccessible. From public schools that are shutting down, to incredibly expensive colleges that put people into debt, to places in the developing world who don’t even have access to schools in some cases. Crash Course is doing what it can to provide for the needs of those who can have access to the internet. Of course, this doesn’t account for everyone, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

 

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So, if Crash Course has been going on for this long, why are we bringing it up now? The company was under a little bit of fire in 2016 (when this article was originally written). A course by the name Human Geography came out on the channel, and after two episodes were released, the season was promptly removed from YouTube. Why? Inaccuracy. Now — before you think I’m about to debunk everything written above, I’m not. In fact, this is another reason why Crash Course is so important in this digital age.  

 

In a small video released on October 31st, 2016, John Green addressed the controversy. He said that Crash Course was “hitting the pause button” on the Human Geography course in order to re-work it. Without hesitation, Green went on to explain how the company attempted to grow Crash Course’s video content, and curriculum, without raising their budget and without increasing their staff.  “That,”  John Green said, “was a mistake.”  

 

This lead to factual mistakes, poor editing, and rushed production. John Green also said that the tone of the episodes were “too strident”, or harsh. Green went on to mention some specific mistakes made in the episodes. This mistake resulted in a product that hadn’t been as good as Crash Course’s previous series. 

 

“Crash Course needs to have a point of view, but it also needs to be intellectually rigorous and to acknowledge the diversity of opinion and research within a field, and we didn’t do that.”  - John Green
 

John Green went further to explain how they would address the problem. They’d work with more experts on the courses, and spend more times on the scripts. He then acknowledged that this change would slow down their production — and then he said something I found key. “Ultimately, I think it will also improve our videos.” 

 

This is exactly why, in this world where education comes along with greed, Crash Course is so important. Green admits to the flaws within their system with no defense and no poor attitude. They brought down the videos and explained how they were going to fix the problems. They also say they’re going to take their time.  

 

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Assuming this rings true, and Green and the rest of the staff at Crash Course do just this, what we’re seeing is rare. An apology without an excuse, and without a political answer. If this is true, we’re seeing a company put their product before their profit, and more importantly, we’re seeing a company put education before profit. This is rare, which is sad and frankly sickening, but it seems to exist somewhere, at least. That somewhere is Crash Course.

 

I’ve been following Crash Course since day one. I have not watched all their series, but the ones I have, I have enjoyed thoroughly. I have gained much knowledge from their videos, and I am thankful for them, too. It’s more engaging than an expensive textbook, and it encourages me to learn more. I’m not learning to pass a test — I’m learning for the sake of learning.

 

One of the series I did not see was Crash Course Human Geography. However, I’m glad I’ve yet to view it. With Green and the Crash Course team re-working the series, I have faith that it will come back as factual and much better. It’s not a blind faith, either, from viewing their other series.  

 

Green also thanked everyone who gave him and the team constructive criticism.  “You make the channel better for us and for all those who watch it,” Green said. “Snarky or abusive comments that don’t come from a place of generosity are really hard to respond to with anything but defensiveness, but we’ve been really lucky at Crash Course that there are so many kind and careful critiques, and we’re very grateful for them.”

 

It’s also worth noting that John Green only blamed himself. He said that if we’re mad at anyone, we should be mad at him. He didn’t blame anyone else for his mistake, and made sure to note that the presenter of Human Geography was not blamed for his misstep.

 

You can check out Crash Course on their YouTube Channel, here.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of all things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.


 
 

But What If She’s Just Not Interested in STEM?

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Every day there is more and more encouragement on the internet and other forms of media for girls to get into STEM fields and to thrive in them.  From shows on PBS, to Twitter threads and Facebook groups, and lots and lots of news stories about girls thriving in STEM in order to encourage other girls to get into STEM.

 

This …might be a cause of some anxiety for some parents depending on some things.

 

What if she’s just not interested in STEM? 

 

The fact is, we should all be interested in STEM to some degree.  Not only will some interest help us get through our schooling (if I had more of an interest in Math, it would have helped me a ton), but there’s something we need to face.  STEM is in our every day lives, whether we like it or not.  Without STEM there would be no computers, or smart phones, or televisions.  Without STEM there wouldn’t be the plants outside, or the pets within our houses!  We wouldn’t even have our homes, if you think about it!  Construction takes a lot of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math!

 

If we don’t have an interest in STEM at all, we don’t have an interest in a lot of life. Without you even realizing it, some of your interests (if not most of your interests) are going to be linked in STEM.  This is also true for your daughters (and sons, of course).

 

Another fact: Truthfully? Though we might not have a career in it, we all are scientists.

 

Something to consider might be: is she not interested in STEM, or has she just not been exposed to it enough?

 

There’s lots of ways to expose your girls to STEM that make it fun and enjoyable for them.  More and more books about STEM are coming out for younger ages, and more and more programs exist to get girls into STEM.

 

[caption id="attachment_465" align="aligncenter" width="700"]<a href="http://www.surlatoile.com/WomenInScience/"><img class="wp-image-465" src="https://femstem.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/DSC_2912-1024x685.jpg" alt="women in science" width="700" height="469" /></a> From luanagames.com[/caption]

 

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Here are a few for your viewing pleasure*:

 

#GirlsWhoCode - A national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology.

STEM Girls Books - A company in development with three picture books coming out around Summer of 2017.

Women in Science the Card Game - An original, fun and educational card game that includes 44 different women for your children to learn about! Plus an expansion pack!

STEMBox - A monthly subscription box that sends science experiments to your door.

Beyond Curie Posters - A slew of posters of women scientists. Perfect for a classroom, or a bedroom!

Sasha Tech Savvy Loves to Code - A children’s book that hasn’t been released yet, but should come out soon!

Launch Ladies - Another children’s book (for very little ones) that will be released soon about Women in Space.

 

But Here’s the Bottom Line:

 

There should be NO PRESSURE for your child to have a career in STEM.  Everyone is different, everyone has different interests, and not everyone wants to be a scientist for a living.  That’s okay — of course it is.  There’s been a bigger push for women to come into science lately, but that’s because there’s a lot of opportunity there and everyone should know that this is an option for them if they want to go that route.

 

But if they don’t — that’s of course okay.

 

We’re going to continue to encourage girls to be interested in STEM, but there’s no pressure.

 

*this post was not sponsored

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.

These "Beyond Curie" Posters are Perfect For Your Classroom

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Originally Posted February 27th, 2017

This design project headed by design strategist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is anincredible collection of 32 women who pioneered STEM fields in one way or another.  Beyond Curie is a project meant to bring light to these women, and while not ignoring the incredible feats that Marie Curie did herself, everyone knows who she is.  This project is meant to diversify the knowledge that students have of these incredible women, and every dollar that Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s Kickstarter makes beyond what production costs are will go toward the Association for Women in Science.

 

Who Exactly are the Women Included?

 

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s design project includes every woman who has ever won a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine/Physiology, as well as 16 other women who brought their own dose of amazing to the science table.

 

Women noted include, but are not limited to, Lise Meitner, Mae Jemison, and Maryam Mirzakhani.  Each poster has a very unique design, meant to bring out what each scientist did in her work, as well as add some wonderful color to the classroom (or even your home if you so choose — forget those boy band posters!  Put these in your girl’s room).

 

What’s the Story Behind This Project?

 

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is the founder of The Leading Strand, an initiative built on the idea that scientists and designers need to be brought together in order to help the world better understand science in the first place.  Phingbodhipakkiya has applied the same principle behind her initiative to her poster project.

 

Phingbodhipakkiya became interested in neuroscience herself when she could no longer dance thanks to a severe injury she suffered from in college.  “I desperately wanted to understand why I couldn’t move as gracefully as I used to, and began studying the intricacies of how the nervous and musculoskeletal systems work together,” Phingbodhipakkiya told me.  When she began to study Alzheimer’s, and realized that the urgency of the work was not being properly displayed, that’s when she turned to design.

 

“I realized, as scientists, we needed to be better equipped to convey the vital urgency of our work.  I gained a new sense of purpose and made it my mission to learn how to use design to shine a light on science.”  And that lead to The Leading Strand.

 

When Phingbodhipakkiya approached me, I asked her what her inspiration behind the  Beyond Curie project was, specifically.  “Like many people, I was feeling pretty upset after the [US] election,” she told me. “and thinking a lot about how I could get more involved.”  That was when one of her friends, who worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign, told her to pick a cause that she cared deeply about and support it in a way that only she could.

 

“That’s what led me to do Beyond Curie,”  She said.  “I wanted to celebrate the rich history of women kicking [butt] in STEM fields, to show that our world was built by brilliant people, both male and female and of all backgrounds, and to inspire the next generation of young women to go into STEM fields.” -- Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya / The Verge / “When Design Meets Neuroscience”

 

How’s the Project Doing?

 

As it would seem, this project has been doing wonderfully.  Phingbodhipakkiya turned to Kickstarter to fund this project, and says she’s had a great turn out.  In fact, as of the writing of this article, people have given over $18K to the project, when the Kickstarter’s goal was only placed at $1,000.

 

“…It’s been great to have people sharing their ideas and stories,”  Phingbodhipakkiya said. “Many educators have reached out sharing how they’ll use the posters to inspire young women in their schools and events.”

 

And for those who are preparing to support the March for Science, she’s created posters just for that cause as well.

 

Beyond Curie has been featured on FastCompany Magazine, and in Global Citizen.

 

Where Can You Find Out More?

 

You can find the many more of the designs at her Kickstarter, which of the publishing of this article will have about 14 more days to go. Although her project has already been funded far over what was needed for the project to begin with.

 

“I think encouraging young people, especially young women, to go into STEM fields science is so important. And one way to do it is through stories.”  Phingbodhipakkiya has a wonderful TED Talk on this subject, located here and well worth a watch.

 

How about it teachers? Will you decorate your classroom with these? I want one for home.

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.

 

Teaching Girls That They’re Brilliant Starts With the Parents

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Originally Posted January 30th, 2017

A bit of a depressing study came out claiming that by age six girls didn’t think they were as brilliant as their boy counterparts.  This being said, it’s important to note that this was a small study, conducted in the US, with only 400 children — half of whom were girls.  That being said, it isn’t surprising that it was found to be true that people are negatively affected by stereotypes, and kids, who are especially impressionable, are as well.

 

Personally, I’d like to see a broader study take place, in more places around the US, and in other places around the world.  This is because cultures very drastically, even sub-cultures in the United States vary quite drastically.  That being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we don’t have to make this stereotype seem like it’s a reality.  We can teach our girls early on that they can and are brilliant.  But how?  Well, it starts with the parents.

 

EXPOSING YOUR CHILD TO STEM EDUCATION EARLY ON USING THE INTERNET

 

You don’t need to wait until pre-school to engage your child in learning.  This may seem obvious, but how can you do so?  There’s plenty of educational television these days, especially on channels such as PBS.  In fact, PBS has an entire program, website, and outreach program called SciGirls aimed to do just this — exposing girls to STEM and encouraging them to partake.

 

There’s also a few web shows to expose your child to, as well.  The internet is a great place to take advantage of, and offers a lot of free education.

 

Take SciShow Kids, hosted by Jessi Knudsen Castañeda, which will have been running on YouTube for 2 years on February 23rd.  Similarly, Castañeda also hosts Animal Wonders Montana, a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching others about animals and how to take care of them.  There’s also Crash Course Kids, hosted by Sabrina Cruz.

 

Of course, some of the subjects brought up on these channels may be aimed towards 5thgrade kids, but there’s no reason not to start exposing your children to them as soon as possible.  And if they have questions?  It gives you the perfect reason to engage with them on an educational level, and help explain to them something they might not understand right off the bat.

 

ENCOURAGING AND PRAISING YOUR GIRLS

 

A big step in letting girls know that they are brilliant is by telling them that.  Don’t hold back praise when your child figures something out, and encourage them to figure things out on their own when it’s applicable.  Help them out, too.  If your child fails, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a nudge in the right direction.  Failure is a great way to learn, but too much failure may bring about discouragement, and that won’t help the cause in the least bit.

 

And if your child fails?  Encouragement is different than praise in that it can be given without judging the failure or success of a child.  Encouragement focuses on the effort put forth, which means that even if your child may not deserve praise, they can receive kind words that will motivate them to try even harder next time.  Rather than taking the time to focus on the fact that your child failed at something, take the time to thank them or bring out the fact that they tried really hard, and that you’re proud of their efforts.

 

GET INVOLVED IN EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR GIRL’S EDUCATION

 

Parents — get down and get dirty.  Do STEM projects (or art projects or reading projects) with your children.  Don’t leave them to do these things alone.  The only way that your child can really prosper is if you get involved.  Let’s face it — children just don’t have the experience to go about everything on their own.  They need their parents to help guide them, and you can do so.  It takes time and effort, but isn’t it worth helping your girl gain a great self-esteem instead of waiting for them to become discouraged so early on in their schooling careers?

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM.  Find her on Twitter.