Recession teaching: Video and the financial crisis

As the old saying goes, it's an ill wind that blows no good. Even as Wall Street continues to melt down and the country plumbs the depths of the recession, one industry is hitting its stride. Financial education, which has long been based in a nearly-impenetrable mass of dull statistics and even duller textbooks, is finding new life as millions of consumers are eagerly exploring a crisis that is completely changing their lives.

Given the ubiquity of Power Point as the instructional tool of choice, it is hardly surprising that the new wave of financial education tools makes use of words, visuals, and even animation. While education videos are nothing new, over the last couple of years, they have made a quantum leap in terms of sophistication and entertainment value. For example, a year ago, Mercury Research and Consulting's prediction markets videos represented something of a standard for clear, easy-to-absorb financial education videos. Aimed at a mainstream audience, the short clips were slightly clunky, but clear and interesting. Even their lack of polish said a great deal: cheap and easy to produce, they showed that videos could be easily uploaded to YouTube, where they could simultaneously educate viewers and cultivate potential clients.