Because Crash Course is a passive learning tool, it'll require a lot of wraparound content to make it more meaningful. It could work well as an introduction to a topic; since the videos are fairly witty and visually eye-catching, they could spark interest. Depending on the topic, it could also help kids who are reviewing material before an assessment. Due to the volume of content, it might be particularly helpful for AP Biology and AP World History students wading through vast amounts of material.
Teachers can best use it by creating opportunities for kids to discuss or interact with the videos. Many teachers use EdPuzzle to insert practice questions into Crash Course videos. EdPuzzle has listed Crash Course as a popular channel, making it super easy to grab and annotate the video you want. Because many of the videos have time stamps in the notes to mark when the host presents certain subtopics, you can segment the videos and watch the parts applicable to individual lessons. You can also challenge students to make their own Crash Course-style videos to explain material.
Crash Course is a vast collection of educational videos organized into "courses," which are video collections. Most of the courses focus on high school- or college-level science and social studies content. In the biology course, traditional textbook content is broken down into 40 videos, each 10 to 15 minutes in length. The videos move through content quickly and use a lighthearted, witty approach. They also often include an animated sequence to illustrate certain segments.
Videos are available directly from the Crash Course website, on its YouTube channels, or for purchase on DVD. Additionally, a Crash Course Kids YouTube channel features content meant for younger viewers. Crash Course was originally created by New York Times bestselling author John Green and his brother Hank Green, host of the SciShow. Many of the history and biology videos are hosted by the brothers themselves. However, as the course offerings have expanded, so has the diversity of the hosts featured.
Crash Course's irreverent tone and fast pace will likely keep students interested, but the information is occasionally questionable, and the videos offer only passive learning. Hosts for each Crash Course video are clearly passionate about their content. They attempt to bring science and humanities alive with amusing examples and catchy titles. In the World History course, John Green hosts a lecture titled "Int'l Commerce, Snorkeling Camels, and The Indian Ocean Trade." He finds a way to tie together sailing adventures with the importance of monsoon winds and maritime technology. While the hosts are witty, they spend most of the video talking directly to the audience. Videos like "Natural Selection" unpack really complex topics and would benefit from additional visuals or animations to help kids make sense of ideas.
Most of the Crash Course videos are very accurate. However, in an effort to simplify content, some of the Crash Course Kids videos miss the mark. In "Vegetation Transformation," the video specifically states that carbon dioxide and water are turned into energy in sugar. This can cause misconceptions for kids as they struggle to make a distinction between matter and energy. And covering complex, deeply painful parts of history in short videos meant to be easily digestable can be problematic. The "Slavery" video is an example: The host is White, the tone is light and dispassionate, and the animations may strike some students as flippant. Tools like EdPuzzle allow teachers to pause a video at problematic points and insert comments to reframe an explanation. So, for certain topics for specific purposes, Crash Course could be a really useful resource in the right teacher's hands, but it might not be as successful in explaining more nuanced, emotionally charged topics.
Key Standards Supported
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem.
Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells.
Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.
Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.
Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.
Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Ask questions to clarify relationships about the role of DNA and chromosomes in coding the instructions for characteristic traits passed from parents to offspring.
Make and defend a claim based on evidence that inheritable genetic variations may result from: (1) new genetic combinations through meiosis, (2) viable errors occurring during replication, and/or (3) mutations caused by environmental factors.
Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.
Matter and Its Interactions
Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.
Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.
Develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system.
Use mathematical representations of Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Coulomb’s Law to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.