It’s not a neologism (new word,) or a new concept. It is the portmanteau ‘edutainment’. Education + Entertainment = Edutainment.
It’s not used much outside of the education industry, at least not enough that you won’t find argument around a scrabble game (speaking from experience,) but if you type edutainment into Word you won’t get a red underlining so yeah, it’s legit even if not common on the street.
This is a concept that has existed for hundreds of years, and current technology has heightened the ability for edutainment to be used by Teachers and Trainers not only for the training of their students, but also to help with lesson or even assessment preparation.
Good old Benjamin Franklin of bifocals, the Declaration of Independence and flying a kite in a storm fame, with his Poor Richard’s Almanack promoted edutainment, by combining entertaining and educational content such as puzzles in his yearly publication.
Uncle Walt of Disney fame developed the idea of edutainment event further with the short educational film Tommy Tucker’s Tooth, which was commissioned and shot in 1922 for the Deneer Dental Institute.
As the U.S. stepped their red white and blue feet into World War II a relationship between Disney and the U.S. government was created.
That was when Disney really started to experiment with educational and nonfiction films which continued after the war, with series such as True-Life Adventures which was a series of 14 documentaries.
The 70s ushered in an explosion of informative short films for students and we saw an upgrade of edutainment media. If there was a health or social issue, you know it had a film, (often animated,) to educate the masses. It’s become the stuff of parody. Simpsons fans I’m sure will be able to sing along to “I’m an amendment to be, I’m an amendment to be!”
So, edutainment isn’t new however, what we have is an upgrade to the edutainment of yesteryear. Perhaps you could call it a whole new world of edutainment that tech advancements have facilitated. I remember back in the 80s when my primary school bought a couple of Macintosh computers for the library. It was mind blowing. Now many classrooms and individual students have iPads, laptops and PCs.
When it comes to edutainment – business is booming. For example, when it comes to game-based learning products (gamification). The gamification market size in 2020 had a global value of $9.1 billion! According to analysts Markets&Markets it is predicted to register a massive growth rate of 27.4%, reaching $30.7 billion by 2025!
Speaking of games, edutainment can also include everything from puzzles to Lego.
There are also wildlife reserves, museums, art galleries. Near my town we have the Gallery of Modern Art, and they are constantly refreshing the exhibitions and bringing in wonderful interactive learning activities for all ages.
Today I thought I’d focus on one, relatively new but excellent source of information and opportunity for knowledge building. Here are 5 of the best Edutainment YouTube Channels. Best is always arguable I guess if it can’t be quantified (unless you want to count subscribers and views,) but these are definitely 5 of my favourites and if you want to inspire education then this is a good place to start. As my granddad once said when I first showed him YouTube, “There is plenty education to be had in that box!”
This is one of the most-watched educational channels on YouTube with, at the time of writing, almost 13 million subscribers and over 13 hundred videos. Crash Course delivers short, snappy, witty, and highly engaging lessons on pretty much every main topic you might traditionally study — physics, philosophy, economics, politics, media studies, anatomy, history, biology, literature, psychology, and more. Crash Course can inspire even the most reluctant student. It is largely presented by John Green, an easily likable, witty, dry-humour type of guy. He can tend to talk fast and zap through things really quickly but as it’s not a hard watch or a long watch repeated viewings aren’t a chore if you miss something. I share pertinent episodes with my students to help them to prepare for assessments.
The Infographics Show
The Infographics Show is a short, sharp, easy viewing general knowledge show which is quite fun and engaging. It’s animated and colourful. It’s basically animated infographics with a voiceover. While there is plenty being offered it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
This has similar caffeinated energy to Crash Course so can be a bit hyper for some, but it provides fascinating info about science and the universe we are a part of. It was created and is guided by Joe Hanson, Ph.D. Titles include “How Much of You is Alive?” and “These Butt Tickling Ants are Endangered Butterfly Bodyguards.” If that doesn’t pique the interest what will?
If you go to their website, you can find easily navigable ways to design lessons that include their instructional or educational videos. If you jump straight into their pool of YouTube videos you can find yourself wonderfully lost in the many subjects on offer. I find a lot of the videos cruise more than Crash Course and is less reliant on graphics like the Infographics show so this one is great while you’re driving and can’t watch the screen. Experts and like-minded educators from around the world get to throw their ideas in the ring.
You may know Jason Silva as the host of Origins and Brain Games, which is (or was the last time I checked,) the most popular show on the National Geographical channel. In this weekly series which has been appropriately described by DIYgenius.com as philosophical “shots of espresso” focuses on helping us to pause and consider, think, meditate, ponder, ruminate (I’m just synonym babbling now,) but basically, he helps us to reflect on the possibilities of human ingenuity.
I’ll finish with a quote by Albert Einstein
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.
“Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.’” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955)
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