When educators consider viable teaching tools, YouTube almost seems like a bad word. However, as more high school and college systems train teachers with methods to integrate technology into lessons, instructors are discovering that YouTube is more than just a video of a random person playing karaoke night at home. YouTube provides teachers with easy access to source of credible video clips that can be used to bolster lessons, provide review material or simply present material for a lesson in a novel and entertaining manner.
However, YouTube can be overwhelming even for regular users. Yet teachers and students can find credible sources of information through “channels.” YouTube channels are collections of videos produced by the same person or group. For example, there is a channel called Mr. Robb’s Math Videos that exhibits the math lessons Mr. Robb has given each day. It began as a means of review, but is now archived in brief video clips for all to use. Therefore, depending on the subject matter one teaches and the grade level, YouTube has a wide variety of channels that are appropriate and effective for classroom use. Here are a few:
- PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) - One of the leaders in matching materials with classroom instruction, PBS breaks down a diverse output of information for teaching (history, politics, science, literature and a host of other subjects) into manageable video clips. On this site you will find interviews, lessons and documentaries. It is difficult not to find something to use here.
- Kaplan SAT and ACT Prep - The Kaplan SAT and ACT Prep channel offers concise demonstrated strategies for different types of questions posed on the SAT and the ACT covering math, writing and reading. These tips serve as a good introduction to the test and are great for reviewing purposes.
- History Channel - If one can swiftly move past recent uploads of “Pawn Stars” and “Axe Men,” there are excerpts from the History Channel’s reputable library of documentaries that cover topics such as: Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, the Cold War and Edgar Allan Poe. There is also a “This Day in History” feature and a photo gallery. This channel would serve as a good place for students to start when searching for an historical topic for a project or paper.
- Associated Press - The channel provided by the Associated Press is an effective and credible source for current events, history or other journalistic research. This channel is a must-use for courses in journalism, as it supplies viewers with coverage of global events, and information on people from the world of celebrity to the battlefields of war.
- National Geographic - National Geographic offers a comprehensive channel that mirrors the popular magazine and television content. Clips cover animals, geography, the environment, scientific discoveries, politics, exploration, etc. With over 350 thousand subscribers, it's one of the most popular educational channels.
Both students and teachers can make use of YouTube in learning, whether used directly in the classroom or independently for assignments and research. The channels offer a method for sifting through some of the non-educational output and guaranteeing credible and accurate sources of information. As students (and teachers) become more tech savvy, YouTube can bring history and life to the classroom in a way no textbook can.
--Lindsey Wright is a music tutor, computer repair consultant, and substitute teacher in Washington State.