By Elizabeth Martin
‘Dr V’s Ocean ABC’ is a series of videos on YouTube aimed at teaching children about marine animals. In every video Dr V introduces a series of marine animals starting with a different letter of the alphabet, showing pictures and videos of the animal along with information about the animals and sometimes on the methods used to research the animals. The videos are aimed at children and use appropriately fun and simple language, for example ‘we can use drones to collect snot to learn about Humpback Whales’ health’ and ‘Stingray, which are kind of like ocean vacuum cleaners’.
The videos are relatively short (approximately 2 minutes each) and use a combination of Dr V talking to the camera and pictures/videos of the animals she mentions. The short length and varied content help to keep the videos engaging. Dr V talks in an enthusiastic and animated way with a varied tone well suited to engaging children.
Using YouTube to publish the videos has the benefit of targeting audiences – YouTube allows Dr V’s videos to be uploaded to ‘YouTube Kids’ and to specify whether videos are educational and aimed at children. Users of YouTube are then suggested videos in accordance with this, therefore increasing the reach to specific audiences. Dr V’s videos also use the hashtags #learn #education #fact as another way to draw in specific audiences who are seeking educational videos.
Dr V’s YouTube videos do not allow users to comment on the video which prohibits two-way communication and mutual learning somewhat, as an open conversation is not able to occur (e.g. through forum-style question and answers). If possible, a solution to this may be a live streaming Q&A session with viewers sending questions in would allow for full two-way communication. Despite this, Dr V’s videos do attempt to allow some communication as viewers are encouraged to send in questions (e.g. via email), and at the end of the videos Dr V answers a question relating to marine life.
It is through these questions that the context and the importance of the videos is sometimes revealed. For example in one video Dr V receives the question ‘what is overfishing?’, and she using this questions as an opportunity to explain some simple aspects of sustainability, for example ‘overfishing is when humans take too much fish from the ocean’ and the potential consequences of this. Unfortunately not all videos have questions that allow for these important topics to be discussed, e.g. ‘what is the fastest fish?’. Although the questions come from the audience and the less-serious questions keep the content fun and engaging for children, the videos could benefit from more consistent mention of the importance of conservation and sustainability independently of questions.