Wikipedia co-founder makes 50 educational videos for kids project video thumbnail
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$532 pledged of $8,000 goal
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By Larry Sanger
$532 pledged of $8,000 goal
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About

There are lots of educational videos online, but most aren't very good.

My educational videos for kids aren't fancy, but they're great, if I may say so myself. And they're popular. Here's an example:

This is an experiment. The experiment is: if you'll spot me $8,000, I'll make 50 more videos of this sort, about all sorts of different basic topics. At the end of this project, you and I can take stock. I can determine my motivation level, and you can determine if you think the money was well spent. I think I'll remain highly motivated, and if it all works well, maybe we'll do it some more!

Making the videos should take me 1-4 months, depending on how many other work obligations I have.

Why me? As co-founder of Wikipedia and Ph.D. philosopher with a specialization in the theory of knowledge, I'm an "online knowledge organizer." In the last 15 years, mostly I've done nonprofit stuff, like the directory of educational videos WatchKnowLearn and the reading program Reading Bear—so I do have experience with this sort of project. I also have two little boys who are homeschooled. I've read zillions of children's books to them and have even studied children books as a subject. I am constantly explaining things to them, looking up words, showing pictures and videos, etc. As a result, they're both advanced in their studies—we've given them a lot of personalized attention. I'd like to give other kids around the world the sorts of explanations I give to my boys.

I'm fast. I can churn out educational videos for kids quickly, working alone, something like 2-3 videos per day, with each video being typically 4-6 minutes long. Possibly more—it depends on the topic and the grade level. I write them carefully and bring all my experience to bear on what might seem, deceptively, like a simple task. I follow a carefully-worked out methodology, and I create the videos 100% by myself with free/fair use images online.

Age level, style, subject? The videos should be accessible to ages 3-9. I don't necessarily shy away from advanced topics, but I approach all topics in the same extremely simple, clear, systematic way. The style features big words on screen, about one sentence, or part of a sentence, per slide. They're illustrated with carefully-chosen still pictures. They're very content-rich and in my experience, the combination of big clear words and lots of well-chosen pictures holds kids' attention quite well. As to topics, I'll take donor suggestions and cover a wide variety from science, history, geography, math, etc. Example topics might include government (i.e., what is it?), Leonardo da Vinci (an intro with several examples), Japan, spring, and cells.

How I started making videos. When my boys were preschoolers, I made 100+ educational PowerPoints for them. They are aimed at approximately the preK-4th grade. I was able to make them with free elements found online in a few hours. My boys loved the presentations and were remembering stuff from them long afterward. They laid the groundwork for my 9-year-old, for example, being able to do high school biology, study high school Greek and Latin with me, read Shakespeare on his own, etc.

My videos became surprisingly popular. I tried making the PowerPoints into videos just to see what would happen. To my surprise, they became popular and constantly grew in traffic. The 16 videos I uploaded in 2011-12 have averaged 78,600 views so far, and their rate of growth has continued to increase year over year. Without any special promotion of any sort, my top five "for kids" videos have got over 100,000 views each. The popular videos just happen to be about popular topics. There are a zillion other popular topics I can and would cover.

Unlike big video production companies, I can, working alone, churn out educational videos of these for kids quickly, like 2-3 (typically 4-6 minutes long) per day. Possibly more—it depends on the topic and the grade level. I carefully write them according to an effective methodology; I create them 100% by myself with free/fair use images online.

Why does a 47-year-old Ph.D. philosopher startup guy want to do this? Because it's fun and very worthwhile! I get a big kick out of teaching little kids stuff—turning lights on in little heads. I'm trained to make very complex things simple—to break things down into their component parts and explain them. So, as weird as it might sound, I really enjoy this work. I find it very philosophical.

I have this dream of explaining the whole world, in a certain very basic way, to kids while they're still small. I predict that after that, their brains will be on hyperspeed, being able to read and comprehend much better. I would love to see, eventually, thousands of these sorts of videos for kids. I think it would be amazing to have a massive program...kind of like Khan, but for preschool and early elementary and with a much broad-ranging assortment of topics.

It also so happens that learners of English love my videos as well, so that's a nice bonus. I love the idea that I'm making it easier for people to learn English.

By the way, I have never profited from my videos, and I don't plan to, beyond paying for my time. I just want them out there in the world free for everyone to use, just like Wikipedia is out there in the world free for everyone to use.

The rewards? The main reason to support this project is philanthropic: you want to help teach the world. But I'll also offer written project updates, access to scripts and the first drafts (which you can help me refine if you want), and if you contribute at higher levels I'll dedicate a video to you (or whomever you name) or chip in free consulting for your homeschool or startup.

Want to give little kids around the world the gift of knowledge? So do I—fund this project!

Risks and challenges

There aren't many obstacles to success here. I'll make 50 videos similar to the ones I've already made. This is a one-man job, and I've already amply proven that I can produce these videos at a consistent standard.

It is possible I'll be hired for some big, time-consuming project, but if the video project has already started, whoever hires me will have to accept that I have a prior commitment to the Kickstarter community, which I take very seriously.

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Funding period

- (15 days)