May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Technology for the Classroom: An Examination of YouTube Education

Posted: Friday, June 1st, 2012

by Donna Ross

In the last installment of Technology for the Classroom, I considered the value of TED-Ed for classroom use.  This issue will examine several uses of YouTube.  Among people with computers and smart-phones, YouTube has become ubiquitous. Even late-night comics mine YouTube videos for humorous gems.  Most students, including those at the elementary grades, have searched for YouTube videos and many have posted their own creations.  However, as I watch those funny cat videos I inevitably seem to be bombarded with material that makes me question the appropriateness for a school setting.   For example, I searched for a video on DNA replication and I was faced with thousands of videos, many with comments that definitely were not school-friendly. Along with some reasonable choices, I also was presented with “popular videos” that, based on the content and the number of views, caused me to despair for the future of our society. But, before despair takes over, let me share some ways to make better use of YouTube for educational purposes.

YouTubeTeachers by teachers is a new site within the educational subset of YouTube to help teachers understand how to make use of YouTube for educational purposes and to assist teachers to search more effectively for relevant videos.  For example, on this page when I select “high school” and “science” I have approximately 40 topics from which I can choose.  I opted for “DNA Structure.”  This took me to 14 videos, all of which seemed appropriate for high school viewing, although I wouldn’t have necessarily considered the primary topic of all 14 to be DNA structure.  The goal for this site is that  teachers will help to determine which videos are appropriate, there will be a larger library, and the categories will become more specific and useful.  Generally, if you use YouTube videos for your classroom, this seems like an excellent starting point.

YouTubeEdu is the broader subsection of YouTube dedicated to education. If you start at this page, you can get all of the general information about the education initiative.  You can also see the playlist and course partners.  There are university courses that can be viewed from this page.  For example, there is a four-hour course on lasers and fiberoptics from MIT, over 30 hours from Stanford’s Continuing Studies program on modern physics, and a full biochemistry course from Oregon State University.  At the K-12 level, there are videos from the Khan Academy, Sesame Street, Steve Spangler Science, and interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson on SpaceLab, among others. Beginning here works well if you know who has produced the video series you would like to use in your classroom.

You may also create your own YouTube site.  Some teachers have their own “channel.”  They post their own videos, class notes and assignments, and links to other videos for their students.  Using the YouTube editor, it is quite easy now to use a built-in camera on a computer to film and post part of your own lessons.  These can be available for students to review at home, after absences, before a test, or during stations in your class.

So far, though, none of the things that I have described will completely eliminate the “related videos” and the “comments” that inevitably show up.  When beginning with the education or teacher pages, the related videos tend to be fewer, but as I watched different videos, I did still see some inappropriate comments.  There is a solution, but it is a school-wide approach.  A school can sign up for a YouTube school network.  In this instance, one person at the school has administrator privileges and sets what is visible beyond the YouTubeEdu videos. Students can only view YouTube EDU videos plus videos their own school has added. All comments and related videos are disabled and the search function is limited to YouTubeEdu videos.  As a teacher with a channel on the YouTubeEdu site, remember that if your school has the network, the students won’t be able to see any inappropriate material while at school, but if they are searching for your site at home, they will have no such protection.

I know a lot of teachers search for videos on YouTube and then use a 3rd party program such as KeepVid to download the streaming video for later use.  I think YouTubeTeachers and YouTubeEdu will make searching faster and more efficient.  I’m still torn about the use of my own channel.  I would like to hear from teachers who have experience and can compare it with using a class wiki or website.  In the meantime, if you ever find yourself with too much free time, there are a lot of cat and squirrel videos waiting for you.

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.

Written by Donna Ross

Donna Ross is Associate Professor of Science Education at San Diego State University.

2 Responses

  1. I’ve used TeacherTube in the past. I found usable videos there. I did find some offensive material so was careful with what I used with students.

  2. Interesting article Donna Glad to see you are involved in CSTA! YouTube can be an amazing resource, but I agree that sometimes comments are inappropriate. I think using KeepVid is a great option.

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Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.