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Preview: Common Craft - Common Craft - Our Product is Explanation

Common Craft - Common Craft - Our Product is Explanation

Welcome to Common Craft. Our three-minute videos help educators and influencers introduce complex subjects. Find out more


New Video: Cyberbullying

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 18:13:12 +0000

Cyberbullying and How to Stop It

This video is built for the teachers and students who are on the front lines of this phenomenon. By understanding cyberbullying, we can take steps to reduce the harm it causes.



Watch the video now

What it Teaches

Using a simple example of a cyberbully in action, this video follows a bully’s tools, motivations and tactics. It also covers what can be done by adults and fellow students to stop the bully and prevent further problems. It teaches:

  • Why cyberbullying represents a problem
  • How cyberbullies use the internet to threaten and harass others
  • What motivates cyberbullies
  • What adults and students can do to help the bullied students
  • What adults and students can do to prevent problems

Watch the video in the Common Craft Video Library

If you're looking for more resources on cyberbullying and prevention, see the sites below:

New Video: Piracy Online

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 20:11:10 +0000

Piracy, in any form, seems like a simple idea. It’s illegal and a form of stealing. But online, it may feel different because it’s so easy to make copies of a song or movie and share them. It’s easy to find pirated software on the cheap. The risks seem low. 

Our challenge with this video: How can we explain piracy in a way that goes deeper than simple right vs. wrong arguments? How can we appeal to reason? 

Our solution: Focus on understanding why it makes sense that piracy is illegal. Below, we explain the system that makes it possible for creative people to be paid for their work and how piracy breaks that system and directly impacts the creative people who make the music and art we love.

We also worked to make the visuals, especially in the beginning, fun and interesting. I loved animating those pirates!



What it Teaches

Piracy, on the open ocean or online, is illegal because it is a kind of theft. By understanding different types of online piracy and why it’s illegal, we can start to see how piracy impacts the artists we love and represents a risk to us as individuals. It teaches:

  • What piracy is online
  • Why artists often depend on copyright laws for income
  • How piracy breaks copyright laws and impacts artists
  • Why pirated software is a risk
  • How to avoid pirated software

Watch the video on

New Video: Identity Theft and How to Avoid It

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 17:44:29 +0000

One of our most popular video categories is Internet Safety and our new video covers an essential part of staying safe online (and off): identity theft. It's perfect for educating students and trainees.

Learn why our identities are at risk and what we can do to protect them (in about three minutes). 


Watch the video now

What it Teaches

We all use names, account numbers and passwords to verify our identities to organizations. Unfortunately, these can be stolen by criminals and cause us financial ruin. The key to avoiding this problem is awareness and understanding ways to keep our identities safe. This video teaches:

  • Why our identity is so important in everyday life
  • What criminals do when they steal a person’s identity
  • Why sensitive documents are a risk and how to keep them safe
  • How criminals use phone calls, emails and fake websites to fool people
  • Why it’s important to review your bills and bank statements

Watch the video

New Video: Blockchain Explained

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:07:33 +0000

Blockchain: New and Potentially Huge

Every once in a while, we come upon a subject that is both extremely complicated and potentially transformational. We treat these subjects with care and work hard to capture the big, fundamental ideas that create a foundation for learning more in the future. 

Today, that subject is Blockchain, which is the backbone of the digital currency Bitcoin and a concept that could be used more widely in the future. 

The video below uses an analogy to show why blockchain may represent a better way for a small village to manage ownership of village property. 


Watch the video

What it Teaches

This video provides a big picture look at why blockchain matters. Using the story of a village, it explains how villagers, who had a centralized authority for ownership, discover a new, decentralized way to manage ownership of village property. It teaches:

  • How central authorities (banks, government) currently account for changes in ownership
  • Why a fundamentally new accounting system is now possible using the internet
  • How blockchain works to create a decentralized system that users manage
  • Why this new system is considered safe, secure and transparent

Watch the video now.

New Video: Gamification Explained

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 15:50:56 +0000

Our new video explains gamification

Find out why so many teachers, organizations and products are using gamification to engage and motivate others. 


Watch the video

What if completing your goals felt more like a game, with points, competition and awards? That’s the goal of gamification - to motivate and engage people by making the completion of tasks feel like a game that you want to win.

What it Teaches

Gamification is becoming a bigger part of our lives and for good reason:  it works. This video explains the concept of gamification and how game mechanics are used to motivate people to accomplish personal and professional tasks and goals. It teaches:

  • Why data and measurements are not enough to motivate people
  • Why products, services and organizations are using gamification
  • How an internal team uses gamification to complete a project
  • Why gamification is becoming a part of everyday life
  • How gamification can be used by anyone

Watch the video

Recent Explainer Videos by Common Craft

New Video: The Invisible Power of IP Addresses

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:40:28 +0000

IP Addresses Explained by Common Craft

At the very heart of the web are a set of rules or “protocols” that let us send and receive information. By understanding Internet Protocol Addresses or IP Addresses, we can see how information is delivered on the web.


What it Teaches

Without IP addresses the internet could not function. They are essential. Unfortunately, because IP addresses are often hidden from view, we rarely hear or learn about them. This video reveals the powerful role they play on the web through a useful analogy involving traditional mail. It teaches:

  • Why rules or “protocols” are important in the basic functions of the web
  • Why traditional mailing addresses are an example of a protocol
  • How IP addresses are used to request and receive information on the web
  • Why there are two versions of IP addresses

Watch the video.

New Video: The Deep Web, Explained by Common Craft

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 00:28:09 +0000

When it comes to research, search engines are not enough.

Waiting just out of their sight is a world of valuable resources called the Hidden or Deep Web and understanding it makes research more effective. This video is perfect for schools or libraries who need better ways to teach research. 


What it Teaches:

This video is designed to highlight the major differences between the normal web sites we see in search results and the databases, services and websites that are found in the Hidden or Deep Web. It teaches:

  • How deep web resources are different than public websites and search results
  • Why deep web resources don’t appear in search results
  • Why deep web resources often require special permissions or payment
  • Where to find free access to the deep web
  • How the deep web is used in research and everyday situations

Watch the full video now

Common Craft Videos are Changing - Here's Why

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 18:56:26 +0000

Back in 2007, Sachi and I had an idea. YouTube was just getting started and we wanted to make videos that explained technology. After a few failed attempts, Sachi suggested pointing a video camera at a whiteboard and recording human hands moving paper cut-outs and markers on the screen. This was the birth of Common Craft videos and our first video was RSS in Plain English, what many consider the first explainer video of the YouTube era. Sachi in 2007 with out 1st generation whiteboard setup Since then, a lot has changed, but the basic format of Common Craft videos has remained the same. The 80+ “ready made” videos we license to educators all use live-action, stop-motion animation with paper cut-outs. For each video, we print, cut-out and animate every piece of paper that appears. We film the video over 3-4 hours and then Sachi edits it all together with a voice-over. It’s all very time-consuming. And now, we’ve made a decision to adjust our method. Common Craft is going digital. Let me explain... Finding a Better Way We love our work and there are two big things we love to do: Produce explainer videos that help educators Create resources (Cut-outs, Explainer Academy) that help professionals become better explainers In reviewing our time and priorities, we saw that the video production method we’ve used since 2007 is complex and involves extensive time, equipment (lights, camera, software) and know-how. Unlike so many other parts of our work, the process had not evolved to be more efficient. At the same time, we have grown even more focused on helping others learn to explain ideas and create DIY animated videos. We could see that teaching our live-action, stop-motion process would be a challenge. An Idea Was Born We started asking ourselves what really mattered and what could change after nearly ten years. We considered questions like: What if we experimented and developed a new, more streamlined method for making Common Craft videos? What if the method we develop is focused on simple, inexpensive, DIY tools (like presentation and screencasting software) that almost anyone can use? In the end, we gathered feedback and agreed that our work as explainers is grounded in our process for writing and refining scripts, and developing visual stories. While stop-motion animation and on-screen hand gestures served us well, they were not required for creating the same compelling explanations that our fans and members love to use. So, we started experimenting and developed a simpler production method over the last year that’s all digital. In fact, this method was what we used to create the 60+ videos in the Explainer Academy and is the exact same method we teach in the DIY Media Maker Course. It's known as "Common Craft Style". Looking Ahead Starting immediately, future videos for the Common Craft Video Library will be created in digital format. We’ll be developing the same scripts, storyboards, visuals and voice-overs as before, but the visuals will be animated with software instead of edited video footage. With this new efficiency, we're excited to create more videos and hopefully continue to inspire others to become explainer video creators. If you’re interested in the Explainer Academy sign up for the Explainer Academy newsletter or check out the courses. [...]

New Video: Open Source Explained by Common Craft

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 16:04:00 +0000

You've heard of open source software and you may even use it every day. But have you ever wondered why it matters? That's one of the questions we're hoping to answer with this video. How is open source different from proprietary software? Why is open source software useful and popular? 


What it Teaches:

This video follows the story of a software developer who created a new tool and is trying to figure out how the tool will be shared and supported in the future. It teaches:

    •    Why open source makes sense for some types of software
    •    How open source differs from closed source, or proprietary software
    •    What motivates people to work on open source projects
    •    How businesses work with open source software

Watch the full video now

New Video: Artificial Intelligence Explained by Common Craft

Tue, 08 Mar 2016 17:51:33 +0000

From what you see in movies and on TV, it's easy to think that true artificial intelligence has arrived. But in reality, it's still mostly a dream. 

Our latest video (our 80th!) explains the basics of artificial intelligence, where we are today and what we can expect in the future. 


What it Teaches:

The goal of artificial intelligence is to create computers that are as intelligent as humans. Achieving this goal is a huge, huge challenge. Today, researchers are making progress and forms of artificial intelligence are starting to appear in everyday life. This video teaches:

  • Why artificial intelligence is so challenging to create
  • How we use forms of artificial intelligence today
  • What is required for computers to teach themselves
  • Why empathy and emotional intelligence are very difficult for computers
  • What we may see in the distant future

Watch the full video now

We'd like to thank Tim Urban at What But Why for inspiring some of the ideas in this video. His article on The Artificial Intelligence Revolution is a classic. 

The Explainer Academy Launch is Just Weeks Away

The Explainer Academy is one the biggest projects we've ever taken-on. Over months, we've developed completely new and original approaches to teaching the skill of explanation.


The "Explanation Master Course" is a multimedia experience with dozens of short, animated videos, visuals, quizzes, exercises and downloadable templates and guides. 

Want to be notified when it launches (and get a discount)? Sign up for updates here.

More Cut-outs!

Our library of downloadable Cut-outs continues to grow. We now have over 2,350 handcrafted visuals for presentations, videos and more.  

Get unlimited access starting at $49 a year