Online Philosophy Videos


I am currently enrolled in the Online Teacher Training Course in Canvas (OTTCC) through Ventura Community College, a local school where I (irregularly) teach. This course is designed to train teachers in the online MOOC platform Canvas which was recently adopted by the California Community Colleges as their course management system. Planning an online course is significantly different than a traditional course, and this training is meant to provide a best practices approach so as to facilitate more teachers effectively using the platform. As I go through the training I’ll post here a few observations relevant to the training.

One of the more noticeable differences in designing courses for online platforms is the “chuncking” of material, online educations speaks of “modules” quite frequently, of which several could be taught in an entire week or over the course of several weeks. Most frequently, however, these modules are smaller in scope and could be envisioned as elements one would have in a single lecture class.

The Online Education Initiative rubric, which was developed by the California Community Colleges, assesses “content presentation” along a list of thirteen criteria. One of those criteria is “student centered teaching” of which “alignment” is gained through the use of a variety of modalities such as text, audio, video, and imagery.

Since one of the courses I am planing is in philosophy I thought compliance with this criterion would be a good opportunity to gauge what types of online video content could be used in various modules of my course. My criteria for selection were quite simple: 1) the video had to focus on a narrow philosophical topic, 2) it had to be less than 10 minutes short, ideally 6(ish) minutes, 3) include more than just a talking head (thus some type of animation, imagery, or at least a very lively and compelling speaker.

I was surprised by the amount of quality videos that were published on YouTube. Some of the channels I found useful include: TedEd, BBC Radio 4, Wireless Philosophy, CrashCourse, Wisecrack, PBS Idea Channel, and Philosophy Tube.

Of these, TedEd is my favorite. The topic is focused, it does no often go longer than 5-6 minutes, and the production value is outstanding. The PBS Idea Channel (unfortunately no longer uploading new videos as of summer 2017) takes a different approach by looking at philosophical arguments and applying them to pop culture, for example would Kant consider a meme art? Overall, there is a wide range of purposes and intended audiences in the above list of videos.

I also hope to supplement these video with my own. I plan to use screen cast software to record my computer screen to walk through some portions of the modules. Of course, learning is a social act, thus the ability to build interest and community is one of the challenges faced by online education. Using these videos as tools in an educational setting – not replacing the educational setting – I think will be central for my course development.


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