Scott Adams' Brilliant Idea

So I read the blog of Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. Sometimes he proposes wonky ideas, which could half work. I'll just give the link to the particular post now:

He has his buildup, etc. but here is the gist: A website that conglomerates educational videos split into particular chunks (such as Pythagorean theorem or the Mongols), the best of which then rise to the top by a voting system.

Immediately I thought of Crash Course. This sub-forum always has requests for John and Hank to make various new subject videos, more than they alone could possibly do.

A website to gather up all educational videos and sort by subject, rather than by creator as Youtube subscriptions are, would make it easier to find videos on a subject, and the voting system would help make the best videos be the first ones people see. I would also split it by age-group, so that any visitor could quickly find the kind of information they need (phases of matter are taught differently in elementary and high school).

It seems like an intriguing idea to me, and one that should be considered, if not right now then down the road. The funding would have to come through Subbable or some such thing, and perhaps more money-oriented groups could join a subscription-based version.

Posting this on a whim, but it seems up Nerdfighters' alley. Thoughts?


  • CatherineCatherine Posts: 275 ✭✭✭
    That's really interesting. Putting all the educational videos together into a competition would probably show some really interesting things about what people value in educational video 
  • MichkovMichkov Posts: 105 ✭✭
    Sounds interesting, problem is that each module has to be self contained. Else you'd need to watch at least parts of a teachers other modules. Which destroys the whole point of a system of mixing and matching.
    A brief overview of a subject may get away with self contained sections, but every topic I've encountered so far requires some degree of interconnection with other stuff.

    An extreme case of this would be the Pythagorean theorem in the OP. It requires you to know how to square a number, and take its root, not to mention add 2 of them together.

    If you are hopping from teacher to teacher there has to be a way to keep on a similar level, maybe a level system. You'd have a kv3 video which assumes you know all(most) of the lv1&2 pieces

    I can see the piecemeal systems effectiveness breaking down when you go to complexer topics in the subject.
  • AmandaPingelRamsayAmandaPingelRamsay Boulder, COPosts: 2
    What if instead of bottom-up, you worked top-down? I know this is a weird idea, but we've actually kind of done that all our lives -- we just don't admit it. I mean, look at history.  We (in the US -- non-US Nerdfighters will obviously need to find an analogy in their own experience, but may be interested to learn how our curriculum goes) learn the US revolution two or three or four times through the course of our lives:

    In fourth grade: Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, George Washington won the war, the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution; they are all heros with no flaws, and America has been the greatest country in the world ever since!

    In ninth grade: So Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and probably raped some of them, and a lot of what we learned about Washington was made up several decades after he died. There actually were women involved in the process.  America has done some bad things, but overall has been a good influence on the world. 

    In college: Thomas Jefferson was a radical, a demagogue, and an atheist. He was also well-read, and you could argue he was single-handedly responsible for the US developing the robust economy that launched it to the forefront of world influence within a century.  Whether that has been a good thing or a bad thing depends very much on which standards you want to use, what time periods you want to look at, and how you define "good thing". 

    It's the same story each time, but with more detail and nuance each time.  You can go on to grad school and get more, or become a PhD and learn even more -- it's fractal.  (I wrote about this when a blogger I follow was asking why it's so difficult to write good instruction manuals:

    So what if, for this website, everyone had to watch the overview video first? It would summarize the big picture, and make sure everyone was on the same page.  

    Then, you'd need two things to happen: 
    (1) People can ask questions about anything in any video.  "I'm confused here" "I need more detail about this" "What does it mean to square a number?" "Why did William Randolph Hearst want a war with Spain?" Those questions can be ranked by other users who have the same question. 
    (2) People can produce videos answering those questions, which can be ranked/upvoted as previously described.  

    So, like, in Hank's Crash Course videos, they're split into sections.  So in Crash Course Biology #14, he talked about Natural Selection, Adaptation, Fitness, etc.  Then you could make another sub-video on Fitness: what qualifies a creature as "fit"? How is it determined? How is it passed on? And each of those could have a sub-video. 

    Anyone can make a sub-video on any topic, they just have to specify what it links to in terms of the overview.  And then people can up-and-down vote within each topic.
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