Top 10 YouTube videos from 2016

Millions of people have watched the OU’s YouTube videos from our OpenLearn channel. Here’s our 2016 Editor’s Choice, and the top ten downloads from the past 12 months.

2016 editor’s choice

Exploring Religion in London

As part of our Exploring Religion in London series, take a look at the capital’s oldest surviving synagogue, built in 1701.  In this video, the manager Maurice Bitton takes us around this hidden gem.


Watch our video series about online infidelity, based on research by two Psychology academics at The Open university.  These five films explore the issue through the experience of one couple who struggle to hold their relationship together after engaging in online activities. What would you do?

Sperm 101

How do sperm move through liquid? What do sperm use to break down the layers on the eggs surface?  All of us were once half sperm but most of us have no idea how sperm travel, the odds of being the winning sperm or even what a sperm’s journey is like. In this series of short animated films Prof Hilary MacQueen, Professor of Health Sciences from The Open University introduces us to some fundamental facts we should all know about sperm.


 2016’s Top 10 YouTube downloads

1. Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation

For a second year, this has hit the top spot! With over 3 and a half million views and over 18,000 shares since its release in 2011, the Bard and his influence on the English language tops the charts.

2. The Silver Bridge Disaster

The collapse of a suspension bridge over the Ohio River in 1967 comes in at number two – but its nearly 2 million views might have something to with the fact that the collapse is linked to sightings of the Mothman creature, which inspired the film the Mothman Prophecies.

3. History of English in 10 Minutes (combined)

From Anglo-Saxons and the Age of the Dictionary to Internet and Global English, this combined version of the comedy animations is a rip-roaring journey through the history of the English Language, voiced by Clive Anderson.

4. 60-Second Adventures in Thought (combined)

The first of the 60 Second Adventures series has picked up over 1 million views since its release in 2011. Thought experiments and paradoxes on time travel, quantum mechanics and Artificial Intelligence are condensed into 60 seconds from The Grandfather Paradox (on which ‘Back to the Future’ is based) to ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’ and The Chinese Room.

5. 60 Second Adventures in Economics

At number five, simple explanations of complex economic theories such as Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and Keynes’ Paradox of Thrift proved a hit on YouTube - with a bit of help from David Mitchell as narrator.

6. Seven Wonders of the Microbe World

An episode on the history of beer may have pulled in a few of the hundred or so thousand viewers of this series about microbes, why some are good, some bad and what they have done for mankind.

7. Curl - Grad, Div and Curl (3/3)

Introduction to this vector operation through the context of modelling water flow in a river. How curl helps in predicting storms.

8. Structural Realism - International Relations (1/7)

Simplifying complex theories is an art form - but Professor John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago does just that as he explains how states behave in international politics, using the example of the US in the West.

9. The History of the EU with David Mitchell

2016’s Brexit referendum brought this popular animation to the fore. Narrated by David Mitchell the film explores how and why The European Union was conceived as well as the major events and key players that helped form the idea from its inception through to obstacles it faces today.

10. The History of Money

In ten minutes, learn about the origins of money and how it developed from whales teeth to today’s currencies and the money of the future.