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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: YouTube

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March 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Ecology? Hamlet? Who cares? Millions of kids clicking online

Screen shot of a

Screen shot of a YouTube CrashCourse on ancient Mesopotamia

When a lesson in biology or A.P. World History gets more than a million page views, it behooves anyone interested in education to find out what’s so compelling.

Such statistics are standard for CrashCourse, a YouTube channel hugely popular with high school students and, by extension, their curious parents. As of this month, CrashCourse has earned more than 1.4 million subscribers and attracted 82 million video views since it first aired on YouTube in 2011.

What makes John Green’s lessons on the agricultural revolution or ancient Mesopotamia so much more interesting than traditional history lectures? Memorable examples that convey emotion and use animation to illustrate key concepts, say students.

Put another way: CrashCourse is reminiscent of classic “Schoolhouse Rock” episodes, but for big kids. Students often use it to augment their understanding of in-school classes, which is likely why acclaimed non-profit tutoring center Khan Academy posts the Greens’ 10-minute lectures on its own site.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: CrashCourse, online learning, YouTube