image title

Partnership between ASU, YouTube, Crash Course expands to offer courses for college credit

January 24, 2023

First 4 courses will launch on March 7

In its continued effort to make college more accessible through innovative methods, Arizona State University is partnering with YouTube and Crash Course to offer college courses that begin on YouTube. 

The first four courses, which will launch on March 7, create a flexible new pathway to higher education that provides up to 12 transferable college credits. The seven-week courses, called College Foundations, are English Composition, College Math, U.S. History and Human Communication — classes typically taken in the first year of college.

Study Hall is available to any learner looking to pursue a college degree, including the 55 million college hopefuls and early college students in the United States.

It works like this: Learners can watch course content on the Study Hall YouTube channel for free. If they like what they see, they can pay $25 to sign up to take the full online course through ASU. All of the courses are led by ASU faculty and involve interaction with other students. After they complete the coursework, learners can pay $400 to receive college credit for the course. They can retake the course as many times as they need and pay for credit once they’re satisfied with their grade and level of competency. The credits are transferable to any of the hundreds of institutions that accept ASU credits.

Learners who register before March 7 will get a special scholarship pricing of $350 per course to receive credit.

This is less than one-third of the average course cost at a public four-year university for in-state students and nearly 90% lower than the average course cost of a private four-year university.

“Built around the same faculty-determined learning outcomes as our other online and on-campus courses, Study Hall courses engage learners where they are,” said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Offering the same ASU credit as any other ASU classes, Study Hall is the ASU access mission in action. We’re proud to be able to welcome more learners into the university community in this way.”

College Foundations is an expansion of the existing Study Hall partnership among ASU, YouTube — one of the largest educational platforms in the world — and Crash Course, one of the pioneers of creating engaging educational videos. Study Hall is slated to have 12 courses available by January 2025. This gives learners a chance to receive credit for their entire first year of college from a top public research university at a time and place that is convenient for them.

This is the first time YouTube has partnered on a college-credit initiative, according to Katie Kurtz, managing director and global head of learning for YouTube.

“We’re excited because ASU and Crash Course are two of the most compelling partners that we could have chosen to work on this,” she said.

“It speaks to the power of their mission to democratize access to educational content, and both partners have a long track of doing that.”

Kurtz said that about 2 billion people log on to YouTube every month, and nearly all of them use the platform for learning.

“The thing I think that’s so interesting about learning on YouTube is how intrinsically motivated people are,” Kurtz said. “They’re here learning because they want to.

“What we’re hoping to do is take that love of learning that’s happening in an informal setting and help channel that into a real-world outcome.”

Lowering barriers

Solutions like College Foundations are critical for increasing the number of people who have college degrees. One of the biggest barriers to higher education is wading through the complicated process of deciding to go to college and then applying.

Study Hall is working to simplify this. The channel already provides “How to College” videos, which help learners navigate the application process, and “Fast Guides,” which include information about dozens of majors and career prospects. Study Hall videos have more than 3.4 million total views.

“Study Hall is an easily accessible place for learners and families to get a jump-start on college — from planning on how and where to go, to actually earning college credits,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said.

“Through the power of partnerships and technology, we continue to find new ways to break down barriers and create new pathways to higher education.”

Making the jump to acquiring credit also is easy. Signing up for a College Foundation course is only four steps.

The Study Hall College Foundations initiative is part of ASU’s Learning Enterprise, an ecosystem of lifelong learning opportunities.

Maria Anguiano, executive vice president of ASU Learning Enterprise, said that starting an online college program on YouTube lowers the intimidation factor.

“We’re meeting learners where they are — and they’re on YouTube,” she said.

“The transition from YouTube to an online course removes a barrier for a student who is not ready to fill out all the forms for college. This is easier and lower risk.

“By doing it this way, we aim to empower learners to pursue their college aspirations.”

Hank Green is shown in a video still with the words Fast Guide: Sustainability across the bottom

The Study Hall channel already provides video series such as “Fast Guides,” which include information about dozens of majors and career prospects. Complexly co-founder Hank Green (pictured) says one of the invisible barriers to college is "the knowledge of how to interact with these institutions," a challenge Study Hall aims to dismantle.

Crash Course is part of Complexly educational production company, which was founded by brothers Hank Green, an enormously popular science communicator, and John Green, author of the young adult bestsellers “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Turtles All the Way Down.”

Hank Green said that part of lowering barriers is realizing that learning is difficult.

“If this information was easy to get into your head, it would happen when you’re 4,” he said. “But there are also two other big barriers. One is the knowledge of how to interact with these institutions.

“A lot of people have that built in, with a parent or a sibling or a friend who have gone through the process. But a lot don’t, and it’s an invisible barrier.”

The other barrier is the cost of college.

“Those two barriers interact, and you can make a mistake that ends up costing you more money and you don’t graduate,” he said.

“We want people to help people make good decisions and to lower the cost, especially in the early portion, so that people can get this info and this knowledge without taking big, dangerous risks.”

Green said he’s appalled at the number of people who started college, left before earning a degree and are now saddled with debt.

“Everything you can do to lower the barrier, even a millimeter here or a millimeter there, is so valuable because there are so many people trying to better their lives,” he said.

Bringing energy

The College Foundations content was created with input from ASU faculty every step of the way. Each course, which contains several modules over the seven-week session, will include a signature learning experience to meet outcomes specified by ASU professors.

For example, in the U.S. History course, learners will practice primary-resource analysis by determining what they can learn from historic photographs, documents and artifacts. Then, they’ll create their own virtual museum that provides a perspective on early American history.

Math 142 connects math to real-world experiences, such as the skills needed to build a house. Learners are guided through the content with adaptive learning technology in which the math changes in real time according to the level of skill they’ve achieved. The learners practice until they’ve mastered the concept.

Students who sign up for English Composition will learn to write effectively in a course that incorporates the latest artificial intelligence technology as a companion to the writing process — AI that provides feedback and practice.

Keeping the content relevant to learners is an important way to keep them engaged. Danielle Bainbridge, an assistant professor of theater at Northwestern University, is the host for the history course. (The YouTube videos feature a variety of hosts; the full coursework is taught by ASU faculty.) In the course preview video, she describes how, in the wrong hands, history can seem boring and useless.

“We’ll see history come alive by discussing not just what happened, but how history is made,” she says in the video.

Bainbridge, who was the researcher, writer and host of the PBS Digital Studios web series “The Origin of Everything,” said that it’s important to bring a lot of energy to the set when she’s making a video.

“Most people think history is a summation of facts, names and dates, and they think it’s dry or they think it’s condescending or talking down to them,” she said.

“You need to talk as if you’re telling a great story to a dear friend.”

The Study Hall course on early American history begins with the Indigenous people who lived here before Europeans settled and runs through the end of the Civil War.

“I think often, early American history is taught from 1700 onward or starts in the 1600s with the Pilgrims and moves on from there,” Bainbridge said.

“If we’re going to understand fully the history of this country, we have to understand Indigenous history, Black history, BIPOCBlack, Indigenous and people of color history, so those issues were engaging for me.”

She particularly enjoyed creating an episode about immigration in the early 19th century.

“It tells a story about a time we often don’t hear about because people think immigration is a contemporary issue in the U.S. and it’s not,” she said.

Another way that the Crash Course team keeps its videos engaging is by using empathy, Green said.

“We’ve done a good job of thinking more broadly about who our audience is. Whenever we’re making content, it’s an active empathy, and empathy requires understanding and you have to understand your audience,” Green said.

“One thing we did with ASU was create learning profiles — here are three people we made up and their situations and how do we make content that fills their needs without making it boring or bland because we’re trying to make it for everybody?”

The minimum is to convey accurate information, he said.

“But ultimately I’m a YouTuber by trade, and that’s all about capturing and holding attention and doing what you can to keep people on screen and not looking at texts and whatever is on the side of YouTube,” he said.

“Capturing attention is something that comes down to feeling as if you’re understood by the person who’s making the content.”

Anguiano said the Study Hall initiative is an important part of ASU’s charter to embrace inclusivity, she said.

“That means not just, ‘You can come to us,’ but also ‘How can we serve you?’

“It means doing things differently, and these partnerships create new opportunities to meet different types of learners.”

Learn more on the Study Hall website. 

Top image: A screenshot from the Study Hall video series on U.S. history features Danielle Bainbridge, an assistant professor of theater at Northwestern University. The YouTube videos feature a variety of hosts; the full coursework is taught by ASU faculty. Image courtesy of Study Hall

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


image title

Labriola Center receives $1M from Mellon Foundation for 'Firekeepers' initiative

January 24, 2023

ASU center to use new funding to build archives partnerships with tribal nations in Arizona

Several years ago, when Alexander Soto (Tohono O’odham), director of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center at the ASU Library, facilitated community-driven archives workshops, the need to create a new model that allows tribal nations to actively engage in creating their archives became apparent. 

“What I learned from community-driven archives is that our grandparents, aunties and elders are all archivists without knowing it. They hold family and community histories in photos and recordings,” said Soto. “As Indigenous people, we understand that our stories need protection to maintain their power. Indigenous ways of knowing are important sources of knowledge.”

Now, a new project to build archives partnerships with Arizona’s tribal nations has found support from the nation’s largest arts and humanities foundation. The Labriola Center was recently awarded a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for “Firekeepers: Building Archival Data Sovereignty through Indigenous Memory Keeping.” The three-year project will allow the center to better support tribal nations that are seeking to establish archival collections.

A principal investigator on the project, Soto will lead a team to build best practices that allow Arizona State University to engage with tribal nations as equals in a reciprocal process of designing archives that meet their needs.

“This is what archival data sovereignty is, and it’s important because this represents a shift from the power dynamics of the past, when non-tribal cultural heritage institutions extracted Indigenous knowledge and information without any benefit to those communities,” explained Soto. “The grant allows the Labriola Center to fuse Indigenous values and protocols associated with memory keeping into archival work.”

Working with the Hia-Ced O’odham 

The project will focus first on a partnership with the Hia-Ced O’odham and their attempts to gain federal recognition. The community holds archival materials like photographs, family stories, maps and oral histories that document Hia-Ced O’odham history.

Portrait of .

Christina Andrews, chairwoman Hia-Ced O’odham

“This assistance will help us on our quest for federal recognition by preserving the voices of our elders in terms of the Hia-Ced O'odham language, culture, sacred sites, sacred ceremonies, land, water, animals and our nomadic way of life,” said Christina Andrews, chairwoman of Hia-Ced O’odham. “Although preserving and speaking our language is not a requirement for federal acknowledgement, it may document an ongoing awareness of our peoplehood, as well as a history of maintaining a relationship with our land (Ajo, Quitobaquito, Sonoita). Moreover, the project may, depending on what is recorded, provide Congress evidential proof that the U.S. has a trust responsibility to the Hia-Ced O'odham that it has been remiss in fulfilling.”  

The Labriola Center provided training to Hia-Ced O’odham community members about arranging, describing and preserving materials, but more work must be done to determine the intellectual and cultural property rights of the tribe’s community archives. 

Andrews added, “I hope at the end of this project, the Hia-Ced O'odham will have a framework in how to share, and at the same time, have oversight and ownership over our archive. I also hope that what is formalized legally and datawise can be expanded and shared to help other tribes gain federal recognition and/or have oversight over their language, culture and history.”

Collaborating with the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

A key component of the project is the collaboration with the Indian Legal Program at ASU"s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

“When people think of laws governing data and information, they usually think of federal intellectual property laws — copyrights, trademarks, patents. Most people don’t realize that tribal nations have always maintained their own laws to govern knowledge and culture,” Trevor Reed (Hopi), associate professor of law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law explained. “Our job is to build legal infrastructure for Indigenous community archives that weave together both of these strands of law to meet the communities’ goals for protecting and promoting culture and knowledge.”

Reed, a co-principal investigator on the project, teaches courses on property, intellectual property and federal Indian law. He will lead a team of graduate students to develop templates and license agreements that respect and honor Indigenous intellectual property and cultural property laws as well as strengthen ownership of tribal archival materials.

“Our team will work with our partner communities to learn and understand the kinds of laws, protocols and standards of care they use when handling, storing and sharing different types of knowledge and data,” said Reed. 

By the end of the project, the model legal agreements, codes and policies created could be adapted to other contexts and meet the needs of many tribal nations. “With the help of community stakeholders, these rules and standards will be translated into legal codes, terms of use, licenses and other kinds of agreements that will form the structural backbone for the archive and its interfaces with the community and the public,” Reed explained. “We hope these kinds of legal materials will function as a model for other community-driven archives going forward.”

Strengthening resources for Indigenous communities

For ASU and Arizona, this project holds special significance.

"It is an honor to have the Mellon Foundation strengthen tribal sovereignty by its investment in the Labriola National American Indian Data Center. ASU is committed to assisting tribal nations in securing control of their histories, stories and data in a way that is culturally appropriate and sustainable for future generations of Indigenous peoples," said Jacob Moore, associate vice president of tribal relations.

This award follows previous recognition from the Mellon Foundation. In 2017, the Community-Driven Archives (CDA) Initiative led by Nancy Godoy received a grant to develop the CDA framework. The Labriola Center has since adopted and expanded these methods for archival engagements with Arizona tribal nations. 

“Nurturing respectful and reciprocal relationships with tribal nations in Arizona and the region is aligned with the ASU Charter, and supporting the Firekeepers project furthers ASU Library's actualization of our Indigenous land acknowledgement by helping to foster Indigenous data sovereignty,” said Lorrie McAllister, associate university librarian for collections services and analysis, and co-principal investigator on the project.

As the only Indigenous-led library center within a doctoral research university in the United States, the Labriola Center celebrates and critically engages with American Indian and Indigenous scholarly works and creative writing. 

“The ASU Library aspires to connect with the communities in which we serve, and we have a special obligation to do so because we are so richly an Indigenous state,” said Jim O’Donnell university librarian. “This grant will provide the opportunity for the Labriola Center to transform archival work and partnerships with tribal nations.”

For Soto, this project is one more step in advancing the Labriola Center’s mission and vision.

“As a Tohono O’odham, I am grateful for the opportunity to start this partnership with O’odham communities,” said Soto. “I am also looking forward to demonstrating the importance of Indigenous librarians in cultural revitalization. I believe it will be a model for non-tribal cultural heritage institutions to reconcile their relationships with tribal nations. This initiative will show archives as a means of culture keeping. To me, I view it as an extension of my O’odham himdag (way of life).”

Top photo: Trevor Reed (Hopi), Alexander Soto (Tohono O’odham) and Lorrie McAllister at the Labriola Center inside Hayden Library. Photo courtesy ASU

Marilyn Murphy

Communications Specialist , ASU Library