Susan Crosson’s Accounting Videos a YouTube Sensation

Does getting two million hits on YouTube mean you have gone viral?

If so, SF Accounting Professor Susan Crosson may have a first by breaking out with accounting videos.

Crosson started posting short 2- to 5-minute videos on YouTube in October 2007 as a way to help students learn specific concepts in accounting. She now has over 200 videos up on the video website and expects to reach the two-million-hit mark within the next 60 days.

The postings cover basic concepts in financial and managerial accounting, and are broken down by chapters. Many of the videos parallel the accounting book she wrote and uses in class. Most of the videos are low tech. Crosson does not receive outside funding other than revenue that comes in from YouTube advertisers who target the mini-seminars. Among her regular advertisers are Forbes Magazine, the University of Phoenix and the University of Notre Dame.

Crosson began making videos more than a decade ago. She started producing VHS tapes to help ESL students who were struggling with the language as much as the concepts. She reworks her collection of accounting snippets every three years and puts the most recent series revamp on YouTube. While WebCT could host the videos, there is the hurdle of log-ons and passwords; YouTube is wide open.

“If we are all about removing barriers from learning, why not go to where the students live?” says Crossson. YouTube seems to be that home.

Her students may be there, but they have lots of diverse company. A large portion of her followers is in the 35- to 44-year-old range. These are often middle managers trying to make sense of their financial statements, says Crosson. On the flip side, Crosson has been contacted by 12 year olds in India who are trying to learn accounting.

The channel has followers around the world. She is popular in Saudi Arabia, Europe and elsewhere. Afghanistan is the latest hotspot; “Business in English is the way out of poverty,” says Crosson. In one case, a Japanese student let her know that she wanted to attend SF because she “liked the way we teach.”

Back in the states, the Florida professor has more viewers in California than anywhere else. She is aware of at least one case where a professor at another college assigned her videos as homework.

The number of hits for the videos track along with the college semesters. When school is out she is getting 2,000 hits a day. As the semester ramps up, so do the numbers. By the middle of the term she gets up to 5,000 hits a day.

The comments on the channel are universally favorable with praise for her and the videos. Thanks to the YouTube commentary, “I never have a bad teaching day,” says Crosson.

Susan Crosson’s webpage

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