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Digital-Simulation Game on U.S. Slave Experience Sparks Debate


Digital-Simulation Game on U.S. Slave Experience Sparks Debate

A screen shot from Mission US: Flight to Freedom, the controversial digital learning game about U.S. slavery produced by WNET in New York City.

By Benjamin Herold



An award-winning, publicly funded digital learning game that asks middle school students to assume the role of a black slave in 1800s America is prompting debate about when and how to employ the power of interactive technology to teach about painful eras of history.

In Mission US: Flight to Freedom, players inhabit the fictional character of Lucy King, a 14-year-old girl who is attempting to escape the Kentucky plantation where she and her family are enslaved. The free, Web-based game asks students to make choices that affect the game’s trajectory, within the historical realities of 1848.

“I don’t know that you can really channel the rape, murder, and mutilation of slavery into a game,” said Rafranz Davis, a K-12 instructional technology specialist. She is leading an online and social-media campaign to get the game withdrawn from schools, pending further review.

“I’m not against gaming. I’m against the way this was done,” said Ms. Davis, a former high school teacher who works in the 64,000-student Arlington, Texas, school district.

Mission US has nearly 1 million registered users, according to WNET, the New York City public-television station that produces and distributes the online series. The game includes four “missions,” each of which explores a different era of U.S. history.

“Our goal [with ‘Flight to Freedom’] is for all students to develop a greater respect for African Americans’ struggle and African American history as a part of American history,” Kellie Castruita Specter, WNET’s senior director of communications and marketing, said in a statement. “Although we regret to hear that some people have found the game to be problematic, we stand by it.”

Experts on American slavery and “racial literacy” consulted by Education Week said they welcomed the potential for digital games and other new-media formats to help students explore even the most troubling chapters of the nation’s history—if such games can be used in ways that don’t simply reflect and repeat the deep-rooted problems inherent in some traditional classroom methods.

Simulations of Difficult Subject Matter

Mission US is one of a growing number of “serious games” that aim to put users in real-world situations and to simulate the challenges of solving big problems or understanding complex processes.

Other examples include:

>> EVOKE, a 10-week “crash course in changing the world” that debuted in 2010. Users in this social-network game developed by the World Bank Institute and the prominent game developer Jane McGonigal tackle big issues, such as food security, sustainable energy, and gender inequality.

>> The Migrant Trail, a single-player simulation game released this month and modeled after The Oregon Trail, a wildly popular educational game during the 1980s. Users assume the role of undocumented immigrants or border-patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexican border, with the goal of better understanding both groups’ circumstances and motivations. The game is part of a multimedia campaign associated with the film “The Undocumented.”

>> Papers Please, a “dystopian document thriller” by independent game developer Lucas Pope. Players assume the role of an immigration inspector charged with controlling the flow of people into a fictional communist state after the end of a long war.

>> This War of Mine, a war simulation from an independent game developer, 11 bit studios. Players portray not soldiers, but citizens trying to survive amid snipers, food shortages, and other crises. The game is inspired by the 1992-96 siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

“We’re already teaching slavery in a way that’s inaccurate, insensitive, and ahistorical,” said James Braxton Peterson, the director of the Africana studies department at Lehigh University, in Pennsylvania.

“I’m actually in favor of a more sophisticated, enhanced version of this game,” he said.

Developed With Historians

Mission US was launched by WNET in 2010. Other “missions” in the series focus on the experiences of a young American colonist in Boston, a teenage member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and a turn-of-the-20th-century Russian immigrant.

According to WNET, the content of Flight to Freedom was crafted by a team of historians from the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center, in collaboration with two leading African-American scholars, Nikki Taylor and Christopher Moore.

Ms. Castruita Specter, the station communications director, described the game as an “interactive story about enslaved people’s resistance to the system of slavery.”

The Mission US series was developed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which in 2010 awarded WNET a $3.3 million grant to create and disseminate the games.

The money from the CPB was part of a larger effort to promote greater knowledge of American history and civics among students by using technology to deliver engaging content, said Michael Levy, the corporation’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer. Of the CPB’s total grant to WNET, $786,163 went to the development of Flight to Freedom, Mr. Levy said.

“For three years, this game has received nothing but uniform high praise,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

Indeed, the Mission US series, which is accompanied by extensive curricular materials and has primary-source documents embedded within its games, has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Minister of Foreign Affairs award from the Japan Prize Foundation, which recognizes scientific and technological contributions that promote peace, in 2013.

The game was also highly rated by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose Graphite website aims to help educators make better decisions about classroom technology.

Until last month, the organization’s official review of the game read: “Parents need to know that Mission US: Flight to Freedom is an age-appropriate, but realistic depiction of life for an African American teenage girl living in the pre-Civil War period. Kids will experience what it’s like to be ordered around by a master, leave family behind to run for freedom, and have to make difficult decisions.

“Some children might find the game experience to be intense,” the review continues. “There is emotional trauma throughout the story. …”

Common Sense Media officials, however, took down the review following complaints from educators and activists who believe the game is inappropriate and offensive.

“We understand the sentiment that has been expressed about Flight to Freedom, and as a result, we are evaluating whether our review warrants an update to convey the most accurate and current information to our users,” a Common Sense Media spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Common Sense Media has also deleted a reference to the game from a blog post published earlier this year that included Flight to Freedom as one of a number of apps and games that teachers could use to “celebrate Black History Month.” That post was how Ms. Davis, who is black, first became aware of the game, she said.

“I felt the pit of my stomach drop,” Ms. Davis said. Her great-great grandmother and great-grandfather, she said, are among her ancestors who endured the horrors of slavery.

“The idea of putting children in that place, thinking of my children, … I just said: ‘This is where I draw the line. This is not OK,’ ” she said.

Ms. Davis and other critics contend that Flight to Freedom’s interactive-game format minimizes the atrocities associated with the enslavement of millions of people over 245-plus years; that the game’s content is historically unbalanced by not giving equal attention to those who owned slaves or otherwise benefited from the institution of slavery; and that playing the game may be emotionally and psychologically traumatic for children, particularly students of color.

Questions about using games and simulations to teach about genocide and other historical horrors are not new.

Ms. Davis and other critics point to Freedom!, a late-20th-century computer game with a narrative arc similar to Flight to Freedom’s that was developed by the creators of the popular Oregon Trail franchise. That game was eventually pulled from the market. Even so, it prompted a lawsuit by parents of an 11-year-old black student who said their son was humiliated by his peers when the game was used in his classroom. The suit was eventually dismissed.

The Anti-Defamation League has also cautioned against using simulation activities, online or otherwise, to teach about the Holocaust.

New Medium, Old Problem

WNET, however, described Flight to Freedom as “part of a growing body of ‘serious games‘ that immerses users in historical and contemporary problems in ways that encourage perspective-taking, discussion, and weighing multiple kinds of evidence.”

While the game does not cover “all the ills of slavery,” the station said in a statement, it does tell “ugly truths,” including “the work regimen of enslaved people, the inhumanity of bondage, the cruelty of abuse, the destruction to families, the physical consequences of disobedience, [and] the impact of psychological damage.”

It also aims to “humanize enslaved people” and portray “enslaved African-Americans with agency and personal power,” according to the statement.

Howard Stevenson, a professor of urban education and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said he liked the concept of Flight to Freedom, but wants to ensure that educators using the game are skilled at helping students navigate the “racial trauma” they may experience.

“Usually, it’s a feeling almost like a rejection of who I am as a person,” Mr. Stevenson said. “There needs to be a place where you can feel that sense of hurt and get it out.”

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Unfortunately, Mr. Stevenson said, many educators lack the sensitivity and skills to help their students do that. But that problem is not unique to the use of digital games, he said.

Mr. Peterson, the Lehigh University professor, agreed. “There are young black children all over the country having alienating experiences in the classroom when reading [about] Huck Finn and Harriet Tubman,” he said. “The critique here should be leveled at how we teach slavery, period.”

Coverage of trends in K-12 innovation and efforts to put these new ideas and approaches into practice in schools, districts, and classrooms is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.











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197 Educational YouTube Channels You Should Know About



youtube_header197 Educational YouTube Channels You Should Know About  If you don’t have a YouTube channel as an education provider, there’s a good chance you’re behind the times. Nearly every major educational institution in the world now hosts its own collection of videos featuring news, lectures, tutorials, and open courseware. Just as many individuals have their own channel, curating their expertise in a series of broadcasted lessons.

These channels allow instructors to share information and blend media in unprecedented and exciting new ways. From teaching Mandarin Chinese to busting myths about Astronomy, the educational possibilities are virtually endless pun intended!

Because we can now sift through thousands of resources while navigating a single repository, the potential for inspiration and growth in the field of education has reached a new height.

Here are the top channels worth following based on views, subscriptions, and quality of content:


  1. YouTube EDU: Launched in 2009, Youtube EDU centralizes content from over 100 universities and colleges, providing access to lectures, research, and campus tours. Think of it as an enormous global video classroom within the YouTube framework, divided into three sub-categories: Primary & Secondary Education, University and Lifelong Learning. You can even build your own global classroom by uploading videos to your YouTube channel.
  2. Teaching Channel: A video showcase of inspiring and effective teaching practices.
  3. TED-Ed: With over 400,000 subscribers, this channel offers an extensive library of original videos meant to inform and inspire. A new lesson is posted every day, Monday-Friday, and relevant TED Talks are highlighted on weekends.
  4. TED & TEDx: As of 2011, TED Talks were the #1 non-profit channel subscribed to on Youtube. These ideas worth spreading have reached over 60 million viewers worldwide.
  5. Edutopia: Run by the George Lucas Foundation, Edutopia focuses on K-12 education but offers a plethora of evidence-based teaching strategies for all levels and disciplines.
  6. BIEPBL: Videos from the Buck Institute of Education, dedicated to improving 21st Century teaching and learning by creating and disseminating products, practices, and knowledge for effective Project Based Learning.
  7. ASCD: Profiles in education, annual conferences, tutorials, and more.
  8. Learning to Teach Online: This multi-award-winning free professional development channel is designed to help teachers from any discipline, whether experienced in online teaching or not, gain a working understanding of successful online teaching pedagogies that they can apply in their own unique teaching situations.
  9. Khan Academy: This non-profit educational organization, created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, supplies all of its lessons online for free. An original pioneer of the open education movement.
  10. Office of EdTech: Videos and playlists including information about technology and learning.
  11. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): Helpful and engaging resources for integrating technology into your lessons.
  12. SXSWEdu: Videos from the annual education conference at SXSW (South by Southwest).
  13. The Times Higher Education: A good collection of videos documenting the World University Rankings. Only 526 subscribers so far, but an important channel nonetheless.
  14. Discovery Channel: A great educational resource, dedicated to bringing viewers amazing stories and experiences from the world of science, natural history, anthropology, survival, geography, and engineering.
  15. National Geographic: With nearly 3 million subscribers, this channel covers wildlife, natural history, archaeology, and more.
  16. Expert Village: Watch. Learn. Do. Tutorials on pretty much anything you can think of.
  17. Nobel Prize: Watch interviews with Nobel Prize winners past and present, gaining some insight into their creative and technical processes.
  18. Biography: A very useful resource, this channel digs deep to present interesting, little-known facts alongside biographical overviews of famous icons. An added bonus, find events that occurred On This Day in history, including famous birthdays and notable deaths.
  19. Smithsonian: With 19 museums, 9 international research centers, and 168 million artifacts to draw from, this channel provides information on the history of our planet, life, and culture.
  20. Australian Indigenous Education Foundation: The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) is a private sector led, non-profit organization focused on empowering Indigenous children in financial need to build a future through quality education and career pathways at Australia’s leading schools, universities and companies. It aims to provide scholarships to educate 2,000 Indigenous children at some of the leading schools and universities in the nation and equip them to pursue productive and fulfilling careers.
  21. Australian Education Union (AEU): The Australian Education Union represents educators who work in public schools, colleges, early childhood, and vocational settings in all states and territories of Australia. Members include teachers and allied educational staff, principals, and administrators mainly in government school and TAFE systems.
  22. The rockEd Channel: thinkEd, an Australian company, has started publishing educational videos on its wellbeing education program (called rockEd), which is based on the successful system used by the Khan Academy. What Khan has done for general education, rockEd aims to do for wellbeing education: provide education that improves children’s wellbeing available to everyone, anywhere in the world, at no cost.
  23. PBS: Public broadcasting opens up viewers minds to the wide range of wonders the world has to offer, particularly when it comes to current events, the arts, and science.
  24. NPR Radio Pictures: NPR-produced videos and audio slideshows on science, philosophy art, and more.
  25. Department of Education: This channel will keep you up-to-date on national policies affecting the education industry.
  26. @GoogleTalks: Google has lots of famous visitors speaking at its headquarters, and they’re all recorded and neatly presented here.
  27. Aspen Institute: An international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Video topics range from poverty to women’s philanthropy to Common Core.
  28. Big Think: This collection brings you videos featuring some of today’s leading thinkers, including Ellen Galinsky, Lawrence Krauss, Dr. Andrew Weil, Robert Steven Kaplan, and more.
  29. Canal Educatif a la Demande: CED is a philanthropic producer of free high-quality educational videos in the domains of arts, economics, and science.
  30. Delivers video presentations from the world’s great writers, leaders, activists and thinkers. Topics include psychology, politics, education, and more.
  31. Intelligence Squared: Oxford-style debates features one motion, one moderator, three panelists arguing for a motion, and three arguing against.
  32. Intelligent Channel: An original YouTube partner, the Intelligent Channel is a new destination for intelligent conversations and documentaries, with leaders from the worlds of entertainment and education. TINT videos produced by Intelligent Television in New York City. Â
  33. The Alcove: A program that features interviews with various influential thinkers, including Jimmy Wales, Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington, and Carl Bernstein. Moderated by Mark Molaro.
  34. Common Craft: Common Craft is a series of short explanatory videos for teachers and trainers curated by Lee and Sachi LeFever. The goal is to fight complexity with simple tools and plain language.
  35. THNKR: Change Your Mind. This channel gives viewers extraordinary access to the people, places, stories, and ideas that are transforming our world. Its four-part series includes BOOKD, EPIPHANY, PODIUM, and PRODIGIES.
  36. Wellcome Collection: The free destination for the incurably curious, this channel explores health and medical topics, science and art, education, old moviemaking techniques, and more.
  37. RSA Animate: 21st Century Enlightenment: Run by the non-profit organization working to meet 21st century challenges by showcasing ideas, undertaking innovative research, and building civic capacity around the world.

Physical Sciences

  1. MinutePhysics: The most popular educational channel on YouTube, second only to Khan Academy.
  2. Robert Krampf: A one-man science academy, this former Pink Palace educator covers radioactivity, the science of credit cards, making butter, and many more interesting and entertaining topics.
  3. Bright Storm: This channel offers hundreds of video lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, math, English, test prep, and more. The videos are nothing more than an instructor lecturing with a whiteboard for a few minutes, but are great if a student needs a refresher on a science topic.
  4. Symphony of Science: These fun videos combine rhythm with science for enhanced learning. Check out Carl Sagan singing We Are All Connected or Morgan Freeman crooning over quantum physics (which, by the way, has over 4 million views).
  5. Bad Astronomy: Bad Astronomy is devoted to debunking myths and misconceptions about astronomy. How much pressure does it take to crush a concrete cylinder? How do meteorites from Mars get to Earth? Find out from The Bad Astronomer.
  6. New Scientist: New Scientist brings you videos and podcasts covering science, technology, space, the environment, and more. An international team of expert journalists brings you the latest innovations and ideas in science and technology, from a canyon discovered under an ice sheet in Greenland to footage of a mouse heart using human cells to beat again.
  7. ReelNASA: This channel brings you videos showing the latest happenings at NASA and the newest developments in space exploration. Â
  8. Richard Dawkins: The channel features talks by Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, as well as others influenced by his thought.
  9. ScienCentral: Making sense of science on an everyday level, this channel produces science and technology content for television, video, and the web. From broadcast news features to educational products, it covers the medical, environmental, and technological issues that affect daily life.
  10. UCSF Memory & Aging Channel: UCSF features videos that will educate patients, caregivers and health professionals about the various forms of neurodegenerative diseases. The diseases covered here include Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal dementia, and Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease. This year’s research education event covered Memory, Medications, and Money and the latest Healthy Aging techniques.
  11. The Real Bill Nye the Science Guy: Beloved American children’s show host Bill Nye presents a number of quality videos on a wide range of scientific principles.
  12. NASA Television: Take students on a wondrous voyage through space, courtesy of NASA researchers, developers, staff, astronauts and equipment.
  13. Utah Museum of Natural History: This small but comprehensive channel introduces students to dinosaurs, rocks, and other fascinating facets of natural history.
  14. Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture: The University of Washington curates collections of natural history and cultural heritage through this terrific channel, which includes videos on Coast Salish Art, unearthing Giant Turtle fossils, Why We Eat What We Eat, Tropical Bats, Plastic Recycling, and much more.
  15. Animal Planet: Animal Planet is the world’s only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television, and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information, and enrichment.
  16. Science Channel: This channel’s 175,000 followers learn about outer space, new technology, earth science basics, and more.
  17. Steve Spangler Science: Steve Spangler’s science demonstrations are best suited for young audiences or older students needing a quick and easy refresher on the basic principles at play.
  18. Science Magazine: This channel explores multiple disciplines and facets of science but isn’t quite as popular as the Science Channel.
  19. Carl Sagan’s COSMOS: Perfect for physics and astronomy classes, these classic videos of the beloved Carl Sagan engage and educate.
  20. Garland Science: Brought to you by Taylor & Francis, this channel includes some outstanding videos and animations pertaining to cellular and molecular biology.
  21. Nat Geo Wild: This National Geographic channel narrows its focus to animals, their behavior, and their relationships with the surrounding ecosystems.
  22. The Periodic Table of Videos: From the University of Nottingham comes the ultimate channel for all things chemistry, including a video about each element on the periodic table and new videos each week about science news, interesting molecules, and more.
  23. British Geological Survey: An obvious source for geology and earth sciences teachers. The British Geological Survey (BGS) is the nation’s principal supplier of objective, impartial, and up-to-date geological expertise and information. BGS carries out research in areas including energy and natural resources, vulnerability to environmental change and hazards, and Earth System Science, often in collaboration with the national and international scientific academic community.
  24. Wildlife Conservation Society: This channel introduces learners to the importance of conservation and environmentalism. The videos serve as informative guides on what works and what doesn’t in the conservation circle, and what would happen if humanity stopped caring.
  25. California Academy of Sciences: A channel from the massive museum featuring exhibits on natural history, astronomy, and marine sciences.
  26. Centre for Inquiry Canada: A great resource for encouraging scientific inquiry, reason, freedom of thought, and secularism.
  27. National Audubon Society: Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. This channel features videos on migration, markings, habitat protection, and more.
  28. Sixty Symbols: Another University of Nottingham venture, this channel demystifies the common symbols used in astronomy and physics, covering momentum, relativity, quantum mechanics, magnets, currents, and much more.
  29. Climate Conference: The UN’s channel dedicated to discussing global warming and other environmental issues. A great resource for debate material and current research.

Engineering & Technology

  1. Gizmodo: This channel will introduce young engineers, computer specialists, and technicians to the programming behind today’s hottest gadgets.
  2. Wired: The Wired channel concerns itself with the invention of the future, illuminating how technology is changing every aspect of our lives from culture to business, science to design. Learn about electric cars, the composition of Play-Doh, or how to hack a telegram.
  3. MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory: Computer science and engineering students and teachers should check here for some seriously cool news on the latest artificial intelligence developments.Â
  4. NPTEL: This channel provides technical lectures from all seven Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
  5. This Week in Tech: For an educator who wants to stay up on all the day’s and week’s tech news, this is the place to be. Entertaining, informative, fun. Full broadcasts.
  6. The Computer History Museum: This channel works to curate the Information Age, offering videos of lectures and events at the museum itself as well as historic computer films. Special guests include Google’s Eric Schmidt and Rick Rashid of Microsoft.


  1. Mr. Robb’s Math Videos: This channel originally started out as a means for students to remember their lessons after class has been dismissed, but grew into an exceptionally comprehensive resource on almost all things mathematical.
  2. Mathademics: Mathademics is a community learning tool based out of Northern Illinois. Mathcast video tutorials are created by certified teachers who are dedicated to improving and making learning accessible to all students.
  3. The Video Math Tutor: This is a useful channel that provides several tutoring math videos covering different topics including basic math lessons, calculator tips, and brain teasers.
  4. Numberphile: If you are a math teacher who wants to teach numbers differently, this channel has some videos to help you do it.
  5. PatrickJMT Free Math Videos: With nearly 200,000 subscribers, this channel is considered to be one of the best math channels on YouTube. It has videos on different topics such as calculus, derivatives, differential equations, limits, integrals, and more.
  6. Mathematics Online: For geometry formula derivations and more.
  7. Statistics Learning Center: With clear, short, entertaining videos, learn the basics of statistics from an expert teacher.

Politics, History, and Current Events

  1. Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provides in-depth coverage of international affairs, focusing on topics that have been under-reported, misreported, or not reported at all. BONUS: Lesson Plans for Educators.
  2. This channel provides some insights into the political figure’s views and actions that are appropriate for academic discussion. A good resource if you’re teaching or studying American politics.
  3. Council on Foreign Relations: A resource designed to provide insight into the complex international issues challenging policymakers and citizens alike.
  4. The Commonwealth Club: Videos coming out of the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum, presenting topics ranging across politics, culture, and society.
  5. The Davos Question: Every year, global leaders attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to discuss how to better the world. Here you get to see what they have to say.
  6. The Library of Congress: Timeless treasures and contemporary presentations from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Features recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present. A great resource if you are studying American history.
  7. The New York Times: All the news that’s fit to watch.
  8. The New Yorker: The official video channel of The New Yorker magazine, offering its signature mix of reporting and commentary on politics, foreign affairs, business, technology, popular culture and the arts, along with humor, fiction, poetry, and cartoons. Your go-to resource for insight into American culture.
  9. The Real News: The Real News Network is a global online video news network that listens to and is dependent solely on its audience. No ads. No government subsidies. No corporate sponsorship.
  10. The World Bank: Videos coming out of the institution whose goal is to rid the world of poverty.
  11. WNYC Radio: Videos provided by WNYC, New York Public Radio.
  12. Yad Vashem: Remembering the Past, Reshaping the Future. Containing the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is a leader in Holocaust education, commemoration, research, and documentation.
  13. 92nd Street Y: Pretty much anyone and everyone on the cultural radar passes through the 92nd Y in NYC.
  14. Feministing: Suitable for high school and college-aged students, this proud feminist channel educates visitors on the latest women’s rights issues.
  15. History Channel: Like the science channel, but historical.
  16. Associated Press: Stay on top of the current events impacting today’s world. The Associated Press covers both domestic and international stories.
  17. The White House: Follow this YouTube channel for the latest developments in American politics.
  18. Witness: Walk through the realities of human rights violations and injustices continuously plaguing the world, and learn about what needs doing in order to reverse them.
  19. National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH is dedicated to bringing viewers honest insights into how mental illnesses really work and the recommended treatment options.
  20. CitizenTube: Hosted by YouTube itself, this channel features current events and frequent political updates from around the world.
  21. World Economic Forum: This Geneva-based organization concerns itself with finding viable solutions to the planet’s fiscal problems.
  22. United Nations: Perfect for model UN clubs and history and political science classes, this channel features over a thousand videos about the constantly changing human shape of the globe.
  23. Inside the NYPD: For criminal justice classes or any others pertaining to law, this look into NYPD will make an excellent educational supplement.
  24. Media Education Foundation: Sharpen critical thinking skills both in and outside of class with these short documentaries encouraging open discourse on sociological, political and historical topics.
  25. WHO: The World Health Organization keeps viewers updated on global initiatives combating everything from diarrhea and colds to possible epidemics.
  26. Mind Your Mind: Mind Your Mind targets young adults with the hopes of educating them on the realities of mental illnesses, how to help loved ones, the necessity of treatment, and the damaging stigmas surrounding psychological disorders.
  27. Open students up to the reality of the global AIDS crisis using this informative resource, which discusses efforts made to combat the virus.
  28. Routledge Textbooks: This publishing company specializes in social sciences and humanities, and their videos work in line with and independently from their texts.
  29. USC Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism: University of Southern California faculty, staff, and students present talks on social media, journalism, global initiatives, and current events.
  30. It Gets Better: Sociology classes studying the LGBTQIA movement and the heightened rate of suicide amongst teenagers alienated by their sexuality needs to check out this channel.
  31. Sociology of Gender: This Penn State University channel presents PSAs relating to gender and sexuality, most especially overall perceptions and portrayals.
  32. American Cancer Society: With cancer a serious issue plaguing the world over, students should know about more than just the medical repercussions.
  33. The MacArthur Foundation: This organization bestows money to individuals whose goals and talents go towards making the world a little bit better.
  34. UNICEF: Learn about efforts by the United Nations to feed, clothe, and educate impoverished children worldwide.
  35. C-SPAN: Follow this channel for the latest news and views straight from Capitol Hill.

The Arts

  1. Smithsonian American Art Museum: Lectures and collections are available for browsing.
  2. British Film Institute National Archive: Here you will find hundreds of free films as well as expert commentary and interviews. Home to the world’s largest and most diverse film and TV archive.
  3. Artists Space: Founded in 1972, Artists Space has successfully contributed to the changing institutional and economic landscape of contemporary art in New York City for more than three decades. The Artists Space channel promotes lively discussion and experimentation among contemporary artists working in the visual arts, video and electronic media, performance, architecture and design. A great teaching resource for college art professors, and a great networking resource for young professionals.
  4. Cinetic: Cinetic, an affiliate of Film Buff, brings audiences the latest, greatest and classic festival favorites from around the globe. From award-winners by veteran filmmakers to up-and-coming talent telling new stories, Cinetic prides itself on being at the forefront of quality indie film in the digital space.
  5. NFB: The National Film Board of Canada hosts short documentaries, animations, alternative dramas, and other films. Its collection of over 13,000 award-winning films can be accessed at
  6. Philip Scott Johnson: A fascinating collection of videos that put art in motion, exploring Baroque Art, Women and Men in Film, Faces of Fashion, Spiral Abstracts, and more.
  7. SpokenVerse: Considered by Roger Ebert to be one of the richest resources on YouTube, SpokenVerse offers over 400 readings of great poems in English, from William Shakespeare to Charles Bukowski.
  8. Sundance: Provides video clips from original series and films airing on the Sundance Channel.
  9. The Screening Room: Provided by YouTube itself, this collection presents high quality, independent films to web users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks.
  10. American Film Institute: Some of the greatest cinematic works of art ever shot for the appreciation and inspiration of future generations.
  11. MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art: Use this channel to introduce students to the hottest and most influential modern and contemporary artists the world has to offer.
  12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Learn all about preservation, art history, techniques and more thanks to one of the world’s most prestigious museums. Take a tour without taking a tour.
  13. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum: Another Smithsonian offering, this time emphasizing the history of design, its role in society and any current trends.
  14. Anaheim Ballet: One of the most popular YouTube channels delivers some of the most stunning and dramatic dance pieces available online.
  15. Smithsonian Folkways: Expose students to world music they may not otherwise know about, courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways devoted recordings and videos.
  16. Beliefnet Community: The men and women of discuss spiritual matters from a comparative perspective, meaning atheists and agnostics are just as welcome to participate as individuals of faith. Videos also touch upon mental health and political topics as well.
  17. BookTV: CSPAN peers into the latest nonfiction releases and supplements reviews and summaries with relevant interviews, discussions, and other materials.
  18. Vancouver Poetry Slam: Watch some of Vancouver’s best slam poets as they share their writing and performing talents with the world at large.
  19. Stratford Shakespeare Festival: The event itself may only come once a year, but the channel offers 24/7 lessons on Shakespearean plays and performances.
  20. Michelle Phan: A good resource for teachers and students in the Beauty trade.
  21. Craft: Projects, techniques, and creations to spark ideas for lesson plans and assignments. Nearly 36,000 subscribers.
  22. Dance Channel TV: A terrific resource for those interested in the performing arts.
  23. Royal Opera House: Full operas may not be available on this channel, but the interviews do provide some excellent supplementary materials.
  24. Longtimers: The Life in the Arts Series, specifically tailored to meet the California State Art Curriculum Framework statutes, covers almost every facet of human creativity and expression.
  25. Words of the World: A channel dedicated to exposing the nature of spoken and written words.
  26. The CIA: A very useful channel for those interested in the culinary arts.
  27. National Writing Project: Here you will find some of the best strategies to help students hone their writing skills.
  28. HP Graphic Arts: Hewlett-Packard’s take on digital trends and experimentation in the arts.
  29. USC Cinematic Arts: Share the latest in film, television, and multimedia with your production students.
  30. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities: Even those living outside of DC can still benefit from this organization’s efforts to promote the arts and humanities in a math and science-oriented world.
  31. Steppenwolf Theatre Company: A great tool for drama teachers interested in illustrating the art of stagecraft.
  32. Walker Art Center: Explore arts of all kinds via walkthroughs and interviews with some of the world’s most creative minds.

Learning a Foreign Language

  1. JenniferESL: With over 153,000 subscribers, JenniferESL is one of the most popular ESL channel on YouTube. Jennifer’s best videos are her lessons on idioms (kitchen idioms, driving idioms, color idioms) and slang/phrases based on everyday environments and tasks. Most of the content in her curriculum is based on expressions and conversations from authentic experiences. Great for beginners.
  2. MisterDuncan: Considered one of the original English teachers on YouTube, MisterDuncan covers lessons on fluency and speaking English naturally rather than prescriptive grammar. A Bill Nye the English Guy, if you will.
  3. Voice of America Learning English: Join over 98,000 other subscribers and learn English with captioned news reports read at a slower speed.
  4. BBC Learning English: Another popular site, with over 64,000 followers.
  5. TheSpanishBlog: It is safe to assume that is probably hard to find a personal native Spanish speaking tutor to provide daily Spanish lessons, but this is exactly what the Spanish Blog is. Laura Garrido Eslava uploads lessons on both YouTube and her personal blog that can help you master both vocabulary and pronunciation. Don’t forget to download some lessons to your mp3 if you’re a person on the go!
  6. LearningLikeCrazy: Whether you want to lament the difficulties of learning Spanish verbs along with a few of their user testimonials or review basic some basic phrases, Learning (Spanish) Like Crazy’s Channel can be both educational and entertaining for any beginner. Learning Like Crazy also provides lessons for other languages as well, such as Italian.
  7. LanguageNow: If you are looking for a more formal lesson, be sure to check out Professor Jason’s Channel. Professor Jason specializes in teaching both Spanish and Portuguese and provides comprehensive step-by-step video lessons on both his channel and his website. His video are on the lengthy end, but his organization of information is definitely worth the watch.
  8. SpanishDict: SpanishDict’s videos are definitely a joy to watch, mainly because they are very organized and of very high quality. Use these if you are looking for a more interactive experience, they are sure to get you excited about the language. The only downside might be that the speaker’s lack native pronunciation, but don’t let this stop you from learning!
  9. Esaudio: For the grammar freak in you, try trabeojoj’s channel videos on Spanish grammar. This is aimed for more advanced speakers of Spanish, but it will definitely help you fine tune your speech by reviewing the ins and outs of the language. Their large selection of videos range from every thinkable topic of Spanish grammar.
  10. French From Beginners to Advanced: One of the best channels available, with nearly 100,000 subscribers.
  11. Learn French: Here you will find short videos of vocabulary words and random phrases followed by a short quiz on the lesson. The channel is in a radio talk show format structured around everyday dialogues and presented by a native French speaker and a native English speaker.
  12. The Radio Lingua Network: On this channel, CoffeeBreak French!, the user learns with Anna, the student, who is instructed by Mark, the teacher. This duo is so enthusiastic and helpful as they situate each lesson in different parts of Paris, that you can’t help but feel that you are undertaking a foreign journey with them.
  13. SloppyCheng: With over 70,000 views, Yang Yang Chen presents clear lessons in Mandarin Chinese, answering daily questions from her followers on grammar and pronunciation.
  14. Peggy Teaches Chinese: Peggy Lee offers free Mandarin lessons as well as videos about Taiwanese culture and food. You will find some humorous videos compiled by her past students.
  15. ActiveChinese: Cartoon animations accompanied by practical conversation tips.
  16. Chinese Class 101: Learn to speak, read, hear, and write Chinese with over 14,000 fellow subscribers.

University Channels

  1. University of California Berkeley: Arguably the most substantive YouTube collection available, featuring a large selection of free courses as well as lectures given by important figures.
  2. Cambridge University: Check out the Cambridge Ideas series, a collection of short films in which top researchers reveal some of their latest findings and discuss subjects ranging from energy to disappearing languages, and policing the streets to the future of robotics.
  3. Harvard University: Despite showing up late to the Web 2.0 party, Harvard has its own collection of worthwhile videos, including Michael Sandel’s famous course on Justice.
  4. Harvard Bok Center: A small but bright collection focused on pedagogy.
  5. Harvard Magazine: This channel features clips from Harvard Magazine, a bimonthly magazine that balances intellectual substance with human interest stories.
  6. Indian Institute of Technology/Indian Institute of Science: Presented by the leading technology institutes in India, this collection features more than 50 free courses, mostly in engineering.
  7. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): This channel serves as a central repository for many of the videos produced as part of MIT’s leading OpenCourseWare initiative.
  8. Stanford University: Newly launched, the collection features a few hundred videos from schools, departments, and programs across the university. Highlights include courses, faculty lectures, campus events, and the latest research news from Stanford.
  9. Yale University Courses: This site features nearly 40 free courses artfully recorded by Yale University. You won’t want to miss the gems on this channel.
  10. Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School: The videos hosted here examine how the digital world and the law intersect.
  11. Carnegie Mellon: Here you will find, among other things, Randy Pausch’s highly popular last lecture on Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. This channel has over 22 million views.
  12. Columbia University: Managed by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, this channel gives faculty, students, and the public access to Columbia-produced videos of lectures, events, and promotional content on the popular YouTube platform.
  13. Duke University: The Duke University YouTube page is a place where students, parents, alumni and others can learn about and enjoy some of the great things happening at the university. Enjoy weekly updates and recordings of summer workshops and commencement gatherings.
  14. Emory University: This University consists of an outstanding liberal arts college, highly ranked professional schools, and one of the larger and more comprehensive healthcare systems in the Southeast. Its channel covers multiple topics, from sustainable student lifestyles to jazz and orchestra performances.
  15. EGS (The European Graduate School): This European collection features Videos and video clips of lectures, sessions, and interviews at European Graduate School (EGS), Media and Communication Studies Department, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, Europe with important contemporary theorists, philosophers, and filmmakers.
  16. Princeton University: Videos from the Council on Science and Technology, Reunions and Commencement highlights, Films from Japan, Rafting Down the Mississippi, and more.
  17. Oxford University: Watch lectures, see reports of current events, and discover more about the students and staff of this incredible university.
  18. Sonoma State: Plenty of lectures, Commencement speeches, and more.
  19. Tulane University: Here you will be able to access some of the speeches by esteemed guest speakers.
  20. University of Arizona: News from campus and lectures by distinguished guests.
  21. University of California TV: University of California Television (UCTV) shares educational and enrichment programming from the campuses, national laboratories, and affiliated institutions of the University of California. Subscribe to your favorites playlists to receive the latest research and information on topics that range from opera to oceanography, autism to artist profiles, global warming to global health. Arts, music, science, public affairs, health, business – if you’re talking about it, you’ll find it on UCTV.
  22. University of Chicago Press: Interviews with authors, editors, photographers, and more.
  23. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: This collection is substantive on the whole. You will need to sift through the videos to find ones of interest.
  24. USC (University of Southern California): Find interesting student spotlights here. A good resource for the arts.
  25. The University of Houston: As with many institutes of higher learning, UH has allowed cameras in the classroom to capture some of its most educational lectures and discussions.
  26. ANU Channel: Canberra-based Australian National University provides an excellent selection of videos on academic subjects and campus life.
  27. USNW: The Sydney-based University of New South Wales presents videos on politics, science, technology, design, engineering and much more that all work as classroom supplements.
  28. University of Melbourne: A great selection of public lectures and close examinations of academic subjects.
  29. Monash University: Near the top of the list for Australian Uni channel subscribers.
  30. The Open University: This distance-learning institution turns the cameras on its faculty and staff for lessons and commentary.
  31. CSU Dominguez Hills: Like other institutes of higher learning affiliated with YouTube, CSUDH also posts up free lectures for anyone curious about the subject matter they teach.
  32. Singularity University: A Silicon Valley creation, with lectures, conferences, and student speeches.
  33. University of Leicester: A terrific resource for those interested in distance education.
  34. Open Colleges: And last, of course, check out our channel. We’re investing lots of resources into this in the next year, so don’t forget to subscribe! :)
About  Saga has taught and tutored writing at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and has researched and written extensively about cognitive models of writing pedagogy. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and lives in Portland, OR.

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