Digital Age Teaching and Learning

YouTube for Teachers

YouTube For Teachers

This page is loaded with tips & ideas to help teachers use YouTube as a tool for both classroom instruction as well as professional development. Scroll down for resources, video examples, and extra information.

YouTube is GREAT for Teachers

Youtube is a great tool for your own professional development and, when implemented carefully, can also enhance learning for students of all ages. Education has come a long way since the days of film-strips, VHS cassettes, and DVDs. Now that digital video is the standard, Youtube continues to dominate the global marketplace and can be an amazing resource for teachers who know how to use it effectively.

Over a BILLION YouTube Users

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Our students are a big part of the growing audience who watches video on YouTube each day.  Look at these staggering statistics:

  • YouTube has over a BILLION USERS. (Yes, that’s billion with a “B”!)
  • Mobile [devices] alone, reach more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of people watching YouTube each day has increased by 40% year-to-year since March 2014.

Students are referred to as “Digital Natives” because they have grown up in an era of electronic information. This info comes in a variety of formats, and video is one of the most preferred. Each day, students all over the world, from toddlers to teens, visit YouTube for entertainment and information. Many fortunate students have daily Internet access and once they discover YouTube, either from a friend, relative, or some form of advertisement, they are bound to return and start using it more and more often. Like many adults in their lives, kids can become fanatical when consuming video content. My hope is that we direct this potential obsession toward ways that will help them become smarter and better prepared for their future.

Audio / Visual Learners Thrive with YouTube

Video is a powerful tool for students who are visual learners. How-to information, Do-it-yourself, and factual info is abundant and by learning through video, they are empowered in their own learning in ways that text may not be as effective.

Screen Zombies – Help Students Avoid YouTube Addiction

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For students that lack self-control with their devices, they will need tips and strategies on managing their consumption. Just like video games, television, and any other fun and invigorating hobby, we all need reminders to control ourselves and strategies to apply our interests in ways that are constructive.

Help Students with Limited  Access

Another reason that YouTube is important for teachers is that not all students own electronic devices or have the internet readily available. These students suffer from the Digital Divide can often have many less hours of experience compared to their more fortunate classmates. Their limited exposure they may warrant extra guidance and support to help them become more savvy YouTube users.

Avoid Assumptions – Students Don’t Always Know

Even with 24-hour access many students aren’t necessarily skilled YouTube users. They may have watched a lot of videos, but chances are good that they haven’t learned to use all the tools, features, and search techniques that would help them be more efficient and fluent as independent learners. Typically, the older the student is, the more skilled they probably are, but you can’t assume anything.

YouTube is Great for Adding Humor

YouTube-For-Teachers-HumorGetting students and staff to smile and laugh helps set the right tone for learning. For example, imagine you are introducing a biology lesson or unit about frogs and to kick things off, you showed a compilation of screaming frogs. It took me less than 60 seconds to find this video of 33 Screaming Frogs. Not only is it strange and funny, it will likely spark a lot of interest and curiosity, which is a great for inquiry based learning. Plus, you will likely inspire kids to search for more on their own time.
No matter what your topic is, a quick search on YouTube will produce tons of great funny clips.What a great way to make learning fun!  

Use Caution with Younger Students

Just like there are inappropriate websites, there are also lots of videos on YouTube that are not acceptable for student use. Nasty comments, foul language, and terrible behavior are abundant. But don’t let that stop you from using it as the amazing educational tool it can be. Most schools have internet filters in place to help block inappropriate content, as well as “Acceptable Use Policies” that helps parents and students take responsibility in how they handle inappropriate content they encounter – whether accidentally or on purpose. The bottom line is that MANY kids are watching YouTube videos, even before they reach the minimum age requirement of 13. If your students are under 13 years old, make sure you follow school policy, but don’t let fear alone stop you from using it.

4 Tips for Using YouTube with Students

Tip #1 – Preview the videos Beforehand

This is good practice anyway. Don’t be in such a hurry that you show it without making sure the content is appropriate. If your school has an internet filter, test out your video when students are not in the room so you can avoid any unwelcomed surprises.

Tip #2 – Use YouTube to ‘ENHANCE’ Instruction, Not Replace It

Videos should be a resource that support classroom instruction and shouldn’t serve as the lesson. When planning your lessons, let your content standards be the driving force when looking for videos on YouTube.

Tip #3 – Set Behavior Expectations

Make sure you students understand what behavior is ok when they are using YouTube and what they should do if they encounter something that is questionable content.

Tip #4 – Teach Ethical Use

Explain to students how you handle content that is offensive to you or something that you do not want to watch. One quick way is to show them how you immediately hit the BACK BUTTON when it happens. Model it by showing, not just telling.