YouTube is often overlooked as an educational tool but I am here to tell you that is a great way to learn new skills, refresh some learning that you may have forgotten, and share that information with others. When I started studying for the MCAT several months ago I went the traditional route: courses and books. After a few weeks of that I discovered that I was woefully behind on some of the material but that there was a wealth of content on YouTube that was ideal for reviewing the information that I had not seen in years.
It seems that despite the overwhelming number of the videos being dedicated to cats or music videos, there is a dedicated community of creators that are using YouTube as a medium for education. Because it seems that this surprises people I felt it was appropriate to create a list of what I feel are five science/health educational YouTube Channels that everyone should know about.
Dr. Aaron Carroll began Healthcare Triage less than a year ago but that has not stopped him from accruing nearly 100,000 followers. The content ranges from discussion and information of new healthcare policy to less serious issues such as his two-minute discussion on Why Turkey Doesn’t Make You Sleepy. The reason I think his channel is extremely good at providing context to stories that haven’t been covered well in mainstream media. For example, when he discusses the US healthcare system he also compares and contrasts it to other healthcare systems throughout the world and speaks candidly about the shortcomings of each.
Started by brothers John and Hank Green, CrashCourse is an ongoing series of lessons running the gamut of topics from World History, US History, Chemistry, Biology, and Psychology. They are extremely useful introductions to these topics and the comments are filled with thanks from users who are doing better in traditional coursework because of the material that they are watching on CrashCourse. In CrashCourse John and Hank present in a similar style to their popular YouTube Channel vlogbrothers, with high-energy jump cut footage, recurring segments, random facts, and sometimes goofy antics used as tactics to draw viewers in.
Khan Academy is similar to CrashCourse but is much more like a recording of traditional classroom. Also, where CrashCourse has created several hundred videos Khan Academy has several thousand. The production value is much lower than crash course but it covers basic arithmetic to astrophysics and just about everything in between. While the video quality isn’t always great I have yet to find a topic that isn’t covered at least in brief. What’s more Khan Academy has partnered with the AAMC and is creating free study content for the MCAT and other standardized tests to give students a free option for studying for these often expensive tests.
No list of online educational media would be complete without Neil deGrasse Tyson and Minute Physics. Minute Physics picks up where Khan Academy leaves off and tackles our most difficult scientific theories and concepts in elegantly simple ways. It is probably not the most useful day to day when compared to the rest on this list, but if you’ve ever wanted a better understanding of gravity, or the Higgs Boson then this is a great channel for you.
I hesitate to add another brain child of the Green brothers to this list but Sci Show is one that has earned its place here. The format of Sci Show differs from many of the other Channels presented here because the primary purpose is to discuss current events in science and also to delve deeper into topics that users have requested. For example when FaceBook got in some hot water over performing a psychological experiment on their users Sci Show took a look at science and psychology of the experiment. As an aside, I highly recommend everyone in the PH W204 course watch the psychology of the FaceBook Experiment above, it discusses some very relevant results to how people are influenced by social media.
As children I’m sure many of us were asked what we learned at school that day and while I don’t think that will change I strongly believe that YouTube will play a much stronger role in that learning. Much of the content on Khan Academy and Healthcare Triage is targeted to more mature learners but Channels like Sci Show, Crash Course, and Minute Physics are beginning to bridge the gap between traditional science and health education and online education.