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Video Visionary Award – Education Recipient: Vsauce

by Joni Blecher on June 3, 2013

Video Visionary Education Smart BubbleLast summer we announced the RealPlayer’s Video Visionary Award – Education. The award recognizes those who are using video to create world-class educational content for the masses. We’re happy to announce the next recipient of the award is Vsauce.

Started by Michael Stevens, Vsauce began as a YouTube channel in 2010. The first videos uploaded to the channel contained video game-related content presented by different hosts. However, Stevens became the sole host and the channel graduated to a mix of information and online activities, and eventually focused on sharing solely  educational segments. These video segments became more popular with the online community, and since September 9, 2012, the content has been exclusively educational. Vsauce videos have been featured on several online news publications, such as the Huffington Post, CBS and Gizmodo.

VSAUCE HELPS EDUCATE THROUGH COMEDIC ENTERTAINMENT

The main Vsauce YouTube channel (there are a total of four channels – Vsauce, Vsauce2, Vsauce3, and WEsauce – under the Vsauce heading) depicts founder Michael Stevens entertaining his audience while discussing an array of topics and questions, such as “Why do we dream?” to “What if everyone jumped at once?” The videos have a fun, light style with lots of entertainment value, making it fun to learn.  During September 2012, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” appeared in one of the main channel’s videos (watch it below), which focused on the joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

VIDEO VISIONARY INTERVIEW WITH VSAUCE

We recently caught up with Michael Stevens, the creator and host of Vsauce, to learn more about the organization’s video program. We asked him a few questions about creating Vsauce videos and how using this media makes such a big impact with his audience.

RealPlayer (RP): How long has Vsauce been producing videos?

Michael Stevens (MS): Vsauce began during the summer of 2010. At first, it was a network with many presenters that focused on video game news and comedy. Over time its programming gravitated towards what I know best and enjoyed doing the most: explaining things and sharing my curiosity about the world.

RP: What gave you the idea to use video to help educate people?

MS: I always loved performing on stage and was in a number of theatrical productions in high school and college. I have always enjoyed explaining things to other people and watching their interest and surprise grow as they hear more. As a teenager, I competed in an event called “forensics,” which was essentially competitive speaking. It was at those events that I first began writing and presenting speeches that conveyed information in an entertaining way. Later, as YouTube emerged as an incredible platform for reaching millions (and billions!) of people all over the world, video became the obvious choice for sharing my passion.

RP: How do you decide which topics to cover and should people view them in any particular order?

MS: Many of my videos are inspired by the viewers: questions from viewers; interesting perspectives from friends; mind-blowing statistics I read in books and online. All of those sources provide the necessary ingredients for a Vsauce episode. There is no right or wrong order to view my episodes, just watch and enjoy. Check out some of the interesting statistics in the “Why do we kiss” video:

RP: Have you found a video style more effective than others?

MS: There are many different ways to communicate ideas and information. I have found that presenting ideas and then pointing people towards videos where they can learn more or websites where they can read more is an effective way not only to convey facts and concepts, but to simultaneously build a reputation for being a ‘source’ – a destination for knowledge and a guide to what is ‘worth watching.’

I have also learned the importance of being social online. Let your audience know that you listen to them and that their curiosity and feedback matters to you. Every time I write an episode I imagine myself as a viewer. Would I share this video with my friends? Does it contain helpful information, presented clearly and quickly, with a few fun surprises thrown in that will make me, the viewer, look ‘cool’ for knowing about it and sharing with my friends?

Being social, surprising, and a ‘source’ are three of the major things I’ve found that not only attract viewers, but more importantly: fans. As opposed to ‘viewers,’ fans are people who will come back and watch what you produce in the future.

RP: Can you tell us about the video team?

MS: I work by myself. Each week I research, write, produce, host, and edit an episode. I am, of course, in debt to all the scientists, researchers, and teachers whose work I rely on to learn about the world. I am (and really we all are) as Issac Newton said, “on the shoulders of giants.” With Vsauce, I hope to point out just how cool all of humanity’s potential, achievements, and ideas  truly are.

RP: Where can people go to learn more about Vsauce and spread the word about the video services?

MS: Simple! YouTube.com/Vsauce. You can also follow me on twitter (@tweetsauce) or on Facebook (facebook.com/VsauceGaming) to stay up to date.

Click here for instructions on how to nominate a series of educational videos to receive a Video Visionary – Education award.

What do you think of the Vsauce videos? What’s your favorite video? What is a topic you would like explained or would like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below.

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