Using YouTube to communicate and educate on the science of risk
Effective decisions often depend on making sense of risks, benefits and tradeoffs. Yet it’s remarkably difficult to find credible, easy to understand, and helpful information on risk – and especially the science of risk.
Here, the online video platform YouTube potentially provides a powerful way to reach consumers, businesses, policy makers and others with free, highly watchable, and innovative risk education and communication content.
Risk Bites is a YouTube channel that combines innovative video making with risk expertise to bring risk insights and knowledge to a wide audience.
The videos, which are produced by Risk Innovation Lab director Andrew Maynard, combine a unique whiteboard style with short, carefully crafted scripts. They aim to make risk-related issues understandable to a wide audience, and cover topics ranging from health and environmental risks, to risk perception.
Risk Bites videos are designed to provide consumers, businesses, policy makers, non-government organizations and others with free, credible, and relevant online education and communication content.
They aim to engage and entertain viewers, while being informative. The project is actively engaged in increasing the reach and impact of the videos, through developing key partnerships, creating responsive content, and increasing web visability.
Risk Bites videos tackle complex topics in a highly engaging and informative way. They are simple enough for high schoolers to understand, and entertaining enough to hold the attention of anyone from kids to grandparents. They convey sophisticated perspectives on risk that draw on the latest research, while being highly watchable.
The videos are used in classrooms, as a training and education resource by organizations, and by news and media outlets.
Risk Bites currently receive no direct funding.
We are interested in exploring support for scaling up and expanding the initiative, in evaluating the impact of this approach to risk and science communication, and in further developing this form of informal online science education.
Risk Bites was created by and is produced by Andrew Maynard
As the need and opportunities arise, individual videos are developed through informal collaborations and partnerships with experts and organizations within and outside ASU.
Director, Risk Innovation Lab
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Edge of Innovation
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Story Telling and Risk Communication
Stories and storytelling have long since been effective tools for communicating risk from childhood Brothers Grimm fairy tales to cautionary stories online and in the news. We wish to evaluate the relevance of stories to lab safety culture. More …
Risk Bites videos are published at YouTube.com/RiskBites. There are currently nearly 100 videos, which together have been watched over 750,000 times. The channel receives between 750 – 1,500 views a day, accounting for approximately 15 – 25 hours or viewing per day.
The videos cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from understanding IARC cancer evaluations, to assessing the risks of getting frostbite. They cover quantitative risk assessment, and also risk perception. Most videos rely on humor to engage the viewer and explore often serious topics. The videos are aimed at providing viewers with information and insights that they will find useful, and are typically 3 – 5 minutes long.
Videos are devised, written, illustrated and produced by Andrew Maynard. The process starts with background research, and a script that is aimed at non-expert viewers. Scripts are kept as focused and pared down as possible, to ensure a tight, engaging and informative narrative. Each script is storyboarded with between 20 – 25 illustrations, before these are videoed on the whiteboard – all illustrations are drawn by Andrew Maynard. Finally, the recorded script and footage are combined into a final video. The process typically takes between 20 – 40 hours. For more information on the process of creating a Risk Bites video see here.
The videos are watched by viewers interested in the topics they cover, and are used by educators and organizations as educational tools.
A number of videos represent collaborations with individuals and organizations, including:
- Grist (Microbeads, IARC Classifications)
- ILSI North America (Tox 21)
- FDA (Tox 21)
- EDF (Tox 21)
- Wilson Center Science and Technology Innovation Program (Gene drives)
- Various (Zika)
- EPFL (Nanoparticles – French)
- We Make Health Fest (Maker movement and public health)
- Mike Capracotta (Li Ion batteries)
- Brian Zikmund-Fisher (risk perception)