Classhack: CrashCourse

hankandjohnIf Hank Green, the host of the CrashCourse series of science  and psychology videos, reminds you of someone, it’s probably his brother John Green. And if John Green sounds familiar, it’s because he’s become famous (and probably rich) as the author of The Fault in Our Stars, one of our Literatzi reads and now a major motion picture. John is also the host of a series of mental_floss videos on YouTube. John hosts the history and English episodes of the series. These two are perhaps the coolest real geeks on the planet, as the gang on Big Bang is, sadly, fictional.

My students are crazy for CrashCourse. After experimenting with different methods of incorporating them into my A&P classes, I’ve come up with these tips:

  • Offer just a taste. The videos are a bit long to view in their entirety. Preview and select a tantalizing point to cut the show. It works best if you literally stop mid-sentence with a cheery, “Well, that’s all we have time for now…” Someone invariably asks that I post the URL.
  • Preview to make sure you’re comfortable with the content and language. These aren’t kiddie videos, but then, my students aren’t kids. The shows that stroll right up to the edge of inappropriate seem to catch my students’ attention best. (See “That’s Why Carbon Is a Tramp” below…an all-time favorite.
  • Use sparingly. Yes, I know the episodes are all great, but a treat offered every day is soon a treat no longer. Actually, this may be on one of the psychology shows. Acclimation? Interested students will soon explore on their own, directing their fellows and you to the choicest fruits.
  • Teach the concept yourself first. These guys talk fast. Students respond well to affirming knowledge they’ve just gained, but the pace is too quick for initial comprehension. CrashCourse is better for reinforcement.
  • Resist the urge to buy a Jeep Cherokee unless you actually need or want one. We just bought a car, and YouTube thinks I’m still shopping and really wants me to buy a Cherokee. Sorry, no dice. But watching the ad is a small price to pay for these goodies.

I’ve included a sampling below.  Just click and taste something for your discipline, or go to YouTube to find lots more. Really, these offer learning pleasure on a platter.

Here’s Hank with the intro to A&P:

Here Hank offers  the wonderful trampy carbon:

John on why we read:

John on history:

Hank introduces psychology:

Finally, just for Pat, Hank on stats:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s