Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

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The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events

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A number of news sites have regular features called something like “explainer” or “explain it to me” where they provide — in either video or text — short explanations about current events or answers to reader/viewer questions.

Here are my choices for best of these kinds of resources out there — please share suggestions for ones I’m missing:

CNN regularly produces two-to-three minute video clips on current news topics (including ones related to science) called “Explain It To Me.” They’re generally excellent. The best way to find them is to type in “Explain It To Me” in the CNN search box, as I have done here. Then click on “CNN Videos” at the top of the page, and you’ll see titles and thumbnail images of them all. Here’s a recent example:

Slate has had a very popular “Explainer” series in text, and they have just begun create one video version each week. Here’s their first one:

WNYC has an Explainer series in text.

Foreign Policy also has a text feature called “Explainer.”

There are also other sites that provide good and simple explanations/tutorials on other topics, including:


Common Craft

And you’ll find other examples at:

The Best Online Instructional Video Sites

The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems

I recently read two very interesting and helpful article from Poynter about the best ways to create them, and they offer strategies that anyone can use — even beyond creating online videos:

From Schoolhouse Rock to ‘The Fracking Song,’ explainers as ‘acts of empathy’

How journalists can create better explainers

TIME Magazine has an ongoing series of short TIME Explains videos on current events. Here’s a link to most of them.

Their most recent example (embedded below) explains how the Pope is elected:

The Washington Post regularly publishes a feature called “Five Myths.”

They’ll typically pick a topic that’s been in the news and list five myths with a short explanation about each one. It’s pretty useful to teachers and students alike.

NBC News produces an ongoing series of 30 Seconds To Know videos about current events and issues.

They’re videos that last…thirty seconds, with an expert who explains a topic. However, it’s not just a talking head — it includes action shots and graphics, and the narrator doesn’t speak too fast.

Here’s an example of one:

The British newspaper The Guardian publishes a neat series of video “animations and explainers” that you can find on their YouTube channel.

Here’s an example:

Feedback is always welcome.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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  1. Pingback: Tell CNN What Videos Would Be Helpful To Your Class | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

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