Video takes the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” and turns it up to eleven. Want proof? Check out the latest stats from popular Internet video site, YouTube. The site sees more than one billion unique visitors each month and more than 100 hours of video are streamed to those visitors each minute.
To say that video is a big deal on the Web is an understatement. As you’ve sought to create content for your online lessons, you’ve no doubt considered the power of video. But, because video is an art form, you might have lacked inspiration, leading you to avoid leveraging the considerable power of the format.
Fear not! Here’s a look at three YouTube channels that get educational videos right, from which you can draw ideas to help you create your own inspiring videos.
SciShow tackles a variety of science topics in a fun and engaging way. The show’s description states: “With equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm, we go a little deeper…without going off the deep end.” That’s an accurate assessment of the content you’ll find on the channel, which succeeds in serving up intriguing insights into science, without going overboard, as can happen with hard sciences.
What can you take from this? When the task is to present heavy subject matter in a compelling way, it’s helpful to keep things fun, concise, and not the least bit tangential. SciShow obviously focuses on science, but the same philosophy carries over into any complex topic you might encounter.
The SciShow leverages conversational tone, live action, illustrations, and fun to teach students about science without getting bogged down in jargon – all things from which videos explaining complex topics will benefit.
Another science-centric YouTube channel is ASAP Science, which sports smart, easy-to-understand videos that explain the science of everyday life. The visuals enhance the information content by keeping the viewer engaged. The simple whiteboard animations are amusing and visually entertaining, even as they support the narration.
One particularly helpful aspect of ASAP Science videos is that, whereas other whiteboard videos pace the narrative too fast, ASAP Science keeps it moving at the speed of conversation. This is an important takeaway for making your own learning videos, as you seek to keep viewers engaged, without getting ahead of them. ASAP Science is a good example of keeping it moving, while keeping it understandable.
TED-Ed features highly polished, ultra-informative expert videos by thought leaders in various subjects. At TED-Ed, the animations are always first-rate, and the content is supremely palatable.
TED famously has rigorously high standards, which is clearly evident in the videos on the TED-Ed channel. The takeaway from these videos isn’t that you need a massive graphic design budget or that you need to be a famous expert in your field to make a compelling video (though, admittedly, it helps). What’s the best lesson from TED-Ed for those of us in online instruction? You needn’t be afraid to get to the heart of the matter.
Although it’s advisable to avoid excessive jargon in your videos (as we praised SciShow above for doing), you still need to satisfy the subject in hand. It could be that TED’s claim to fame is that it’s a showcase of the most concise video explanations relating to deep subjects. TED-Ed manages to tell the whole story, succinctly. And the rest of us will be wise to take notes. With nearly one million hits, TED-Ed is among the most popular educational channels on YouTube.
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Written by: Todd Spear
Todd Spear is a freelance journalist with experience in digital and print. He’s particularly interested in helping others use the latest software tools to get more done – with fewer headaches. Todd is a regular contributor to the GetApp blog, among other outlets around the Web. Connect with Todd on Twitter.