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Cold hard facts v Showmanship: Does the e-learning approach matter?

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Khan Academy, Crash Course, TEDx Talks, Brave Wilderness – these are just some of the e-learning educational channels available on YouTube, discussing everything from high-school physics to brain-computer interfaces and outdoor education. But what exactly is attractive about these channels and what do they strive to achieve?

cellular education
cellular education*

In that respect, there are multiple categories of channels, each with a different approach and end-goal. The major category would focus primarily on education. From an educational perspective most of these channels work with the goal of providing quality content that is easily accessible and broken down in a way that helps people understand better than if they were in a classroom or lecture hall. Of course, all educational channels have an aim to educate, but as will be discussed later, not all actually rely on the educational factor in their videos.

Bill_Clinton_talking_at_TED_2007
Bill_Clinton_talking_at_TED_2007

These education-first channels don’t usually have glossy presentations, expensive after effects or an overly exciting manner of teaching. They present the facts in an easy to understand way, and often times in the simplest terms possible, their primary goal is to educate their audience. Generally, these channels are sub-sections of a bigger group or institution, and don’t rely on YouTube to generate revenue – think of TEDx (Convention) Khan Academy (Non-Profit Organization) or UC Berkeley (Tertiary Institution).

childrer-learning
children-learning*

Channels with a similar objective but that rely on YouTube’s monetization scheme tend to invest more in graphics, appearance and presentation – they want their audience to keep returning. However, this is where the line is split in terms of education. Some channels will focus on the information, and attempt to dress it up in an engaging fashion, whilst others rely on a shock factor, click bait-like presentation of facts. Based off of how a channel presents its’ educational material, you can infer their bottom line objective – is it education-based, or monetary in value?

Brave Wilderness Channel Trailer:

That being said, it would be misguided to dismiss channels who rely heavily on shock value as not being educational. They still are, they just put more emphasis on showmanship than cold, hard facts, which in itself can be hard to market. Far from discrediting different approaches to presenting information, what all these channels achieve is the same: they make education easier, more accessible, and more fun.

internet education
internet education anywhere

Let it be through basic explanations, fancy graphs, or an incredibly enthusiastic host, these channels enable anyone and everyone to learn about something new, refresh their knowledge or dive in depth into a difficult concept. What makes them attractive is one’s own thirst for learning. A thirst that drives one to educate themselves, outside the pressures of a classroom, where they can learn at their own pace.

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