What We Did in 2021
Crash Course was busy in 2021. On YouTube, we gained 1.5 million subscribers, our videos were viewed more than 195 million times, and we reached over 70 million unique individuals. But of course the thing we’re most proud of is the videos we made, and there were a LOT.
Black American History
After working on it for years, we put together one of our most impactful and successful courses of all time, Black American History with Clint Smith, writer and author of the #1 best-selling book “How the Word is Passed.”
Working with Clint was a dream for us. He inspired us every day with his calm expertise and clear style for conveying the complex history, economics, and sociology of the Black experience in the United States. This series was in the works for a long time, and while we were working on it, the murder of George Floyd and the movement that grew in response made it even more important. This course was vital to get right, and Clint’s work along with writers Lynae Vanee Bogues, Nia Johnson, and Danielle Bainbridge and our consultants Dr. Kiesha N. Blain and Dr. Stephen Hall has ensured a really remarkable series so far. We’re still in the midst of production and will wrap the series in 2022.
We also took on another increasingly pressing topic this year with Outbreak Science. There’s been a rise in students and learners interested in public health, epidemiology, and disease, so we were very grateful we could partner with The Sabeti Lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to provide a resource for those people with a short series on disease outbreaks. Rockstar/geneticist Dr. Pardis Sabeti hosted this one with support from writer Dr. Ricky Nathvani and consultant Ebony D. Johnson.
We added another life sciences course to our library with the launch of Zoology. This series was created in partnership with PBS Nature, hosted by wildlife ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, and written by Dr. Brittney Borowiec with support from consultant Sebastian Echeverri. So, yes, we are still making content that doesn’t happen to be related to current events. I mean, if you don’t count the continuing evolution and adaptation of all living things on this planet, I suppose. Crash Course doesn’t cover any topics that aren’t relevant to our world right now.
Including, of course, Organic Chemistry, which we started pre-production on way back in 2019 and finished filming in 2021. O-chem is widely known to be one of the biggest barriers to students hoping to study science or go into healthcare fields. And so, we thought it was vitally important that we do a great job in helping people understand the more complex ideas of organic chemistry. That required our incredible partners at Thought Café to build systems for showing molecules graphically from the ground up (and learning a lot of organic chemistry themselves along the way). The result has been absolutely fantastic. Thanks to Dr. Deboki Chakravarti for hosting this one (and painting her home to look like the Crash Course studio when we moved to remote shooting), to Dr. Kat Day and Andy Brunning for writing, and to our consultant Dr. Kristen Procko.
Also, we completed our Geography series in 2021! I found this series so fascinating as it opened my eyes to what geography really is: a connection between people and place. And, wow, there are a lot of important and deep ways that people and place are connected. Our geography series was hosted by NatGeo explorer, Alizé Carrère. The fab duo Dr. April Luginbuhl Mather and Dr. Zohra Calcuttawala tag-teamed the writing and consulting for this one.
Those were the courses produced in 2021, but in no way was that everything we did!
One of our biggest new initiatives of 2021 was the development of Crash Course: How to College in partnership with Arizona State University. The goal of How to College is to help students make great decisions as they figure out how they are going to take on higher education. As we have learned more about both students’ positive and negative experiences with higher ed, we realized that this was one of the most important (and under-taught) topics we could possibly take on. Far too many students end up dropping out because they are not set on the right path and do not fully understand the many options for continuing their education.
This project also led to the launch of a whole new YouTube channel in 2022, Study Hall, which is dedicated to exactly this problem. Our first series is called “Fast Guides,” which exists to explain what different majors consist of, what to expect, and why people choose them. We’re really excited about this collaboration with ASU, and we think it’s going to take us to some very exciting places in the future.
There was a lot of other development work done across several projects. We partnered with the American Public Health Association for the collaborative series That’s Public Health. We also worked with research partners at the Education Development Center, to study the adaptation of Crash Course for learners who speak Spanish. The offering on the Crash Course App (available on iOS and Android) was also expanded in 2021; we added a set of flash cards for Organic Chemistry to help viewers review and apply concepts from the videos.
And, as always, there are things happening at Crash Course that we are very excited about but that we aren’t going to tell you about yet because we don’t want you to be disappointed if they end up not working out. The responsibility we take on when we make Crash Course is really significant. It’s a privilege to be able to help people in their educations, and the whole team at Crash Course works very hard to do it as best as we possibly can. We have so much more we want to do, and we are so grateful to have the support of those who pay for this content so that it can be free for everyone.
If you want to be a part of this work, you can get a Crash Course Coin right now, but only until June 13.