Crash Course Computer Science

Amy and I had the good fortune of being able to attend and present at the 2016 World Economic Forum as part of the CMU delegation. At one of the smaller invited events, we bumped into John and Sarah Green. After a few drinks, we got onto the subject of Crash Course and the lack of a computer science series. Amy and I said we could put together a killer curriculum if they were interested. John was, and he connected us to Brandon Brungard and Stan Muller, who produce much of the content out of their Indianapolis studios. We decided on a human-centered and historical progression of the material, and also decided against teaching programming in any substantive way, as videos are not the right medium for this. A fleshed out episode lineup and few pilot scripts later, the series was green lit, and Complexly started to search for a series host. We were thrilled that Carrie Anne Philbin accepted the role and shooting for the first ten episodes kicked off in January 2017. The first episode aired on February 22, 2017, with new episodes appearing weekly until December 21. It was a massive endeavor to research and write forty, 12-minute episode on roughly a weekly cadence. Crash Course uses a fast pacing, so it ended up being just under 100,000 words all together, longer than a typical novel. Hats off to Robert Xiao who was a contributing writer on 17 of the episodes. Likewise big thanks to the amazing and very patient team at Thought Café, who worked with us on all of the visuals. As of August 2019, the episodes have been watched 18 millions times. The whole project was very rewarding and we hope inspires students to consider careers in computer science.

© Chris Harrison