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MLA Full: "The Surprising Origin of Crash Course." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 25 June 2021,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2021)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2021, June 25). The Surprising Origin of Crash Course [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2021)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "The Surprising Origin of Crash Course.", June 25, 2021, YouTube, 03:56,
The coin will be available until midnight tonight!

Of course I know that the vast majority of people who are watching this won't be able to get a coin, but the small percent who can are making it so that this resource is available to all and not being built inside of a system that will ultimately be designed to capture more value rather than lower more barriers.

Thanks all!

And if you missed the coin: *wink*

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Good Morning John.

I’m about to tell you a story that no one knows. A story that honestly I did not know until I looked it up in my Gchat archives.

It’s the story of how you told me about the most impactful idea that we have ever had. Allow me to read you the transcript of the chat that we had on September 26, 2010.

John: Okay, here is my idea. I want to make a five minute video that covers the whole French revolution and it is hilarious and it is fun to watch and it has lots of visual aids. No one in education even treats it like it’s interesting but I mean, they made a deal in an indoor tennis court because the kind was a baby and locked the door to their f **g meeting room. It’s like the single most interesting moment in world history except for when the prince of Nepal became a serial killer. So… Is that not a great idea?

Me: It is a great idea.

John: Ok, I will do it.

And that really is how Crash Course was born. Except that I left something out. And I lied a little bit.

John: And I want that video to be our entire pitch to redacted and other venture capitalists.

Because we were pretty sure this was something we could do, and would have a lot of impact, but we couldn’t imagine having the funding necessary to do it without the support of traditional venture capital.

And I don’t doubt that if Crash Course had had to take that path that it could have been successful. I just think that if we’d done that a lot of it would be behind a paywall right now.

But thanks to a lot of things going right, including John, you advocating for it over and over again in the face of me having terrible other ideas, which this chat also includes some of, we have never had to take investment and honestly that has been extremely powerful for Crash Course because it has meant that we’ve always been focused on keeping it free.

In that initial chat John, you were talking about something that we still talk about now. We call it lowering barriers to learning. Some of those barriers are just pretending, for some reason, like the French Revolution isn’t dramatically interesting. Like, making it boring is a completely unnecessary barrier.

But one of many other barriers to learning would be great educational video that costs a lot of money for teachers and students. That is a barrier that we are trying to prove is unnecessary.

I’d be lying though if I said that wasn’t really challenging. Like some days I think, maybe that barrier is a necessary barrier. I don’t know everyday how we’re going to make Crash Course work.

It has required a lot of weird thinking on both the “how do we make money if we’re not going to charge for this” front, and also a lot of thinking on the “how do we make this as inexpensively as possible” which I think is important. We need to essentialize, we need to figure out what is the most important thing for lowering those barriers and do not more than that.

But in educational content there are corners that you cannot cut, and there are also corners that you kinda can but just don’t want to. We want to do more, we want to do it better, and we want to treat our teams and our contractors better.

And so, at Crash Course and Complexly in general, we’ve had to be really creative over the years with how we make money. With advertising and taking grant money from any organization that really understands our mission, and with Subbable and then Patreon, and now with a new thing that is ending today: The Crash Course Coin.

I’m very sorry if you didn’t hear about this sooner because this is the last day. But there are 2 coins, one is $100 and one is $500 and each represents a piece of our budget that will allow us to reach either 2,000 or 10,000 students.

Each one of them is being minted at a small family owned mint in Arkansas from hand etched dies, and this has been so successful that there will be a different 2022 coin available next year, but this is literally the last day that you can get the 2021 coin. The $500 ones are probably sold out by the time this video goes up, but maybe not.

This was the very first one that was minted, it has 001 on it. It’s going to the first person who bought a $500 Crash Course Coin. And you know who that person was?

John, it was our mom.

I thought I was going to fake cry and then I started to real cry a little bit. If you are watching this and it is not Friday June 25th, I’m sorry the Crash Course Coins are no longer available, but you can still support us on Patreon. More than 10 years into this journey we are so excited to continue finding ways to lower barriers to learning.

John, it was a great idea. I’ll see you on Tuesday.