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Stimulate your mind through educational YouTube videos

Sebastian Partogi
Sebastian Partogi

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, February 12, 2018 | 09:09 am
Stimulate your mind through educational YouTube videos

In addition to entertainment videos, YouTube also offers many educational contents. (Shutterstock.com/Your Design)

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Most people might give up on trying to figure out the conundrum, but one video from YouTube channel Kok Bisa? (How Come?) attempts to address this question in two minutes and 19 seconds by referring to theories in biology and evolution.

The video mainly uses colorful animations and narration to address specific subject matters such as, “Is there life beyond planet Earth?” and “Why does gasoline smell good?” The questions raised in the channel’s videos sometimes address political and economic issues, such as, “Does Indonesia have native ethnic groups?” and “Why do nations not print as many bills as they want?”

In terms of presentation, the channel’s videos do bring to mind those from The School of Life, a YouTube channel founded by British writer Alain De Botton, which also addresses life’s seemingly trivial but stimulating questions. The videos also bring to mind those featured on TED-Ed’s YouTube channel.

While those of us born before 1990 still remember children’s books outlining simple experiments that could be conducted at home, nowadays, technology has brought instructions for such experiments online in a multimedia format. Another YouTube channel, Koharo TV, presents such videos.

Some of the videos, however, involve fire, and if young children were to watch them, they should be accompanied by their parents.

These educational channels have secured many subscribers. Kok Bisa? has gained over 697,000 subscribers to date, while Koharo TV has tallied over 93,000. The channels were founded in 2015 and 2012, respectively.

According to Kok Bisa? cofounder and business development officer Gerald Sebastian, the reason why most Indonesians tend to be influenced negatively by the internet or fall to social media addiction is because they lack high-quality, educational content that is stimulating and sparks a curiosity to learn.

He said that, overseas, there was an abundance of channels providing educational content, including BBC and Discovery Channel.

Kok Bisa? cofounder and chief executive officer Ketut Yoga Yudistira, meanwhile, said that amid the paucity of such content, most educational videos available in Indonesia were plain, boring and delivered in a lecture format. Children, he added, needed role models to set meaningful goals.

“This has motivated us to create our channel, hoping that after viewers – particularly the young ones – watch our videos, they will be motivated to ask questions, explore more about science and even aspire to become scientists and creative people, instead of being motivated to be motorcycle racers on the streets,” Ketut said, referring to a wildly popular Indonesian soap opera featuring youngsters who race motorcycles on the streets.

Koharo TV’s Abdul Kohar Zulkarnaen echoed Ketut’s wishes, saying he hoped his videos would provoke viewers to tap into their creativity and inquisitiveness.

True to their mission to provide high-quality educational content, both Kok Bisa? and Koharo TV rely heavily on audience engagement and research to develop their content.

“To update our channel with new videos, we ask viewers to propose questions to be addressed to our Twitter handle @kokbisachannel. We will then pick a question that we think the audience could relate to, and then conduct research to address that particular question,” Ketut explained.

He added that to ensure the spread of accurate information, he would consult academic journals published by reliable publishers such as SAGE Publications, which one can access through Google Scholar. Experts from institutions such as the Indonesian Sciences Academy (AIPI) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) would also be consulted.

Abdul, meanwhile, said he often attempted to conduct a particular experiment by himself based on suggestions and proposals from his audience through Twitter, and he would only film the experiments that could be backed up scientifically.

Both channels are also connected to Twitter and Instagram, social media platforms that they use to engage with their audience as well as attract new subscribers.

As social scientist Brené Brown says, social media platforms are good for only short-bite communication, while real connections and discussions to create new discourse should actually occur offline, face-to-face.

The cofounders of Kok Bisa? seem to understand this. They often conduct public scientific discussions with scientists to address specific issues, delivered in an interactive and fun way that suits the preference of the millennial generation. The events seek to educate the public and encourage rational, logical thinking.

“To correspond with one of our videos, called Apakah ada kehidupan lain di luar bumi? (Is there life beyond planet Earth?), we once organized a seminar on whether aliens exist. We didn’t invite some pseudoscientific panelist who specializes on the existence of aliens, of course. We invited astronomers who could explain the subject matter scientifically,” Gerald said.

He added that the channel’s offline public seminars were often conducted at the Menara, by the Kibar building on Jl. Raden Saleh in Cikini, Central Jakarta. The building is often dubbed “Indonesia’s Silicon Valley” as it has become a base camp for local youngsters working on their start-up tech companies.

Thanks to the success of their public discussions, the channel’s cofounders have received a lot of offers from various universities to cooperate on such events. They said they had registered with Google AdSense to monetize their channels to ensure the financial sustainability of their operations.

Abdul said there were also product placement advertisements promoting certain brands for his videos.

To get back to the “chicken or the egg” question, what do the Kok Bisa? content creators have to say about it?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said that the egg came first from a bird that was not a chicken.

Tyson’s argument updates a conclusion previously drawn by researchers from England’s Sheffield and Warwick universities. They said that chickens must have come first since the chicken eggs contained proteins that could only originate in a female chicken’s reproductive system.

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