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YouTube's 'Pop Science' Videos Gaining Popularity

This post originally appeared on the Curriculum Matters blog. 

The number of subscribers to educational YouTube channels tripled in 2013, according to an end-of-year NPR story. And a major contributor to that growth has been increased interest in "pop science"—or what YouTube calls "explainer"—videos.

You've probably seen these kinds of videos before—in just a few minutes, a narrator breaks down a seemingly complex or technical topic, often using animation to do so. For instance, the most popular YouTube video from an education channel last year, NPR reports, was one from AsapSCIENCE called "How Old Are Your Ears?" It's a minute-and-a-half long hearing test and description of why higher frequencies are harder to hear with age—and it has nearly 7 million views. 

While it's unclear from the NPR piece how exactly these pop-science videos are being used, there's a good chance at least some are being shown in the classroom. Instructional models that rely on video—such as the flipped classroom and blended learning—have gained traction over the last several years, and, of course, devices for showing online videos have proliferated.

Take a look at the hearing-test video below to see whether you think it has classroom value or is the kind of thing students should just watch on their own. 

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