Often times, people go online to get lost in Facebook, celebrity news, weather updates, and blogs on whatever topic that sparks their interest. Rarely will your average Joe or Jane go online with the goal of learning a new subject. However, AsapSCIENCE thinks they can get them to do just that with “edutainment.”
Their goal was to “get people psyched about the world around them.” Rather than forcing online learning down people’s throats, the creators, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, said, “We thought we’d put it on YouTube where it might also hit some people who were already interested.” It did. Last checked, they had over 250,000 subscribers and 21 million views. There is no true end goal for them, but new interactions and ideas are frequently fed to them, creating new video concepts about the science of your life.
Going one step further, TED-Ed provides a similar format, taking lessons and pairing them with artists to create fun, engaging moments of online education. However, TED-Ed expands the idea even further, collecting popular education videos from YouTube, organizing by subject, and even creating series of videos to help you understand ideas like “Getting Under Our Skin” and “Math in Real Life.” Of course, these are just lessons, like with AsapScience.
MentorMob is similar to TED-Ed, but takes a different approach. Videos and web pages are selected to create larger lessons in popular categories, ranging from universities to music to health. Several of these lessons walk you through steps to finish with an end result, such as learning to play the drums. Others just give you valuable information to use in real life. ThingLink does the same thing by using pop-ups of still images to share videos, facts, and information on basically any topic you can think of. And all of these are very entertaining, helping you enjoy online learning to its full potential.
So we come back to the original question, will edutainment inspire online learning? I think it will. While some “students” may fall off or not follow through on a topic, others will be enlightened by its great potential. The student will find more flexible ways to learn, and potentially gain the inspiration to even attend an online university. Edutainment is like having a great teacher in your younger years whose passion thrilled you to learn more, and potentially made you want to pursue a career related to the topic. I can’t wait to find other forms of edutainment that will inspire me.