Two of the most popular history YouTube Channels are Crash Course and Ask a Slave. Several history classes have recommended these videos as to students as a way to get them excited about history. As a result, these channels have gained national attention for the entertaining way they make students think about history. These videos also make viewers question popular misconceptions about history like George Washington being a “good slave mater”. However, they both have a unique way in which they present their information. The question that lingers is which method is the most effective in educating students about history.
CashCourse takes a more traditional approach to teaching history by doing ten to fifteen minute long lectures. The host of these lectures is literary author John Green who also employs a staff of historians and researchers for the videos. These videos deal with a wide range of topics like Slavery and Women’s Suffrage. The appeal of these educational videos comes from the host as he engages viewers through humor and animated segments. Other channels have tried to replicate the style of the channel with various degrees of success. CashCourse is extremely popular, but it is not the only YouTube Channel that has managed to explore complex issues.
Ask a Slave was a YouTube channel that looked at the experiences of a woman who did living interpretation at a well-known historic. The actress took on the role of an enslaved person and had several interesting interactions with visitors. The “enslaved” woman is the host of the show and answers questions the actress had to deal with in real life. The questions highlight the lack of knowledge about the system of slavery during the colonial era. This style relies on the ignorance of others to encourage viewers to further their understanding of the founding fathers and slavery. Other interpreters make appearances in the web series to have a wide range of perspectives.
These YouTube Channels have gained national media attention, but they both do not have the same educational value. They are both useful in highlighting different aspects of history, but which type of video can be a resource for students? Another question that needs to be addressed is what trained historians are saying about the content. More importantly, what do history teachers say about their students using as a study tool? It would be interesting to do a more in-depth analysis of the negative and positive effects of these videos.