I have been a fan and user of Crash Course for years. It all started with Crash Crash World History when I was teaching social studies. John Green is the voice behind the World History unit, but several years later I found out that there were courses in science being created by John’s brother Hank. The Crash Course library of courses continues to grow and diversify, even bringing in new talent to tackle certain issues such as science communicator Phil Plait doing the Crash Course Astronomy series (superbly I might add)!

Crash Course videos appear in all of the classes I teach at various points, usually every week! I am supposed to be providing a review, and so I’m giving this series 7 thumbs up (Simpson’s reference – because I think Kelsie Lenihan expects it of me!).

You can tell that the budget has increased over the years as the improved production value is quite evident when comparing newer series such as Anatomy & Physiology compared with, say, Biology. When you watch one of the Biology episodes it features mostly Hank just talking about the topic at hand with the periodic inclusion of an animation or other visual feature. Compare that with a newer episode and you will notice far more time given to helpful visuals. This has greatly improved the quality of the video in terms of being a learning tool as biology is a subject that can be learned far more clearly with visuals and animations alongside the lecture.

The improved production value also improves student engagement and retention as well. I can tell just by observing my class that the engagement with many of the newer videos is far greater than with an older series, such as Biology. I still believe it’s worthwhile to watch the Biology videos because Hank is one of those educators that I would also consider to be an entertainer. But I also feel that way about myself to an extent. I still think there’s power though in students hearing things from other people just to hear a different voice and to change the flow of class a bit. Repetition is important for memory as well so hearing something twice is useful.

With the newer videos though, the videos seem to hold students attention better as it will flip between Hank or whoever the presenter is and animations. This alternating scenery keeps things moving and prevents any one ‘scene’ from becoming stale. I find that the Anatomy & Physiology series also provides lots of references to pop culture which both provides good comedy but also helps students remember due to being able to make connections between content and their own experiences in life.

If I were to make my own series of videos like Crash Course, it would have to be more like their initial few series, as I do not have the budget or ability to create such dazzling animations. Even their earliest videos have a production value above what I could produce. For this reason, I find this channel to be valuable as an educator. The videos are so good and there is enough variety now that you can utilize these videos for more than just a supporting feature now, but one could use these videos as the primary source of learning if using a model of instruction like the flipped classroom. Crash Course Astronomy, Crash Course Economics, and Crash Course World History are just a few of the series that have so much content you could easily rely on these videos as the primary mode of instruction. By incorporating these videos into your classes, it also becomes very useful for when students need to review a particular topic or if they miss class, the content is readily available for them whenever they want, and it can be revisited as many times as one requires.

Another exciting addition to the Crash Course family was the release this past fall of a World History curriculum to go alongside the entire series of videos. By pairing the curriculum documents and the videos, one has all they need to really teach themselves this entire subject!

As popularity increases and time goes on, I am hoping for the release of more curriculums, particularly the science ones! I have tweeted to Crash Course and even the Green bros. regarding whether any other curricula are in the works, but alas, I have not received a reply…hopefully too busy working on more Crash Course awesomeness!

I implore you to go, right now, and check out all that Crash Course has to offer, but beware…you may be blinded by awesomeness!

Live long and prosper