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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Educational videos don’t have to be boring

Screen time isn’t necessarily wasted time, writes Mike Petrilli. His 10-year-old son learned about Admiral Yi Sun-sin, who defended Korea from Japanese invasion in the 16th century, thanks to a series of free educational videos on YouTube’s Extra Credits Extra History channel.

On YouTube at least, Khan (Academy)’s 4 million subscribers are rivaled by MinutePhysics, with 4.4 million, and TedEd, with more than 6 million, and Crash Course, with almost 8 million subscribers, and they are blown out of the water by Vsauce, with 13 million.

Extra Credits started as a channel for historical war gamers. The first non-game video series featured the Punic Wars. It “went viral, with some of its videos logging more than a million views,” writes Petrilli.

The Punic Wars went viral!

Most educational videos are boring, says James Portnow, founder of Extra Credits. His writers and animators “always have a hook. There’s a through line. Cliffhanger endings. And most importantly, we ask ourselves, ‘What’s engaging about this subject? Why would someone want to learn this thing?’”

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