Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Every day, we watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube. That translates to almost 8 hours of video per person on the planet.
For students, watching YouTube is a part of their daily lives, with 95% of young people aged 13-20 using the platform. Where education is concerned, you’d think that the logical next step would be to embrace the trend, but the reality is that many schools still block the use of YouTube in the classroom.
So what gives?
Like with any new technology, fear of the unknown or improper use shouldn’t overshadow the massive benefits. That’s why there are ways to use YouTube safely in school that will allow you to expand your classroom past the boundaries of its walls and harness the power of its infinite hours of video.
So, are you ready to bring your school and your classroom into the 21st century? Let’s go!
The Advantages of Using YouTube in the Classroom
The sheer amount of content available on YouTube is astounding. More than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute! With this wealth of material to choose from, you can find videos to support anything you’re teaching, from the alphabet to AP calculus.
Beyond being able to find any video imaginable, the basic fact of using YouTube in the classroom will make your lessons vastly more appealing to your students. Engage them by switching up your class and introducing digital content rather than sticking to the traditional lecture format. (If you need a reminder, just think of the last lecture you had to attend for PD.)
You can switch up your class even more by going the extra step and flipping your classroom. Assign the videos for your students to watch at home, and then use your class time for practical exercises like projects or debates.
By using the flipped model, you’ll actually be adapting to your students’ habits and lifestyle and not the other way around. Since watching YouTube videos at home is something they do regularly, having another one to watch for homework becomes something to look forward to rather than something to dread.
Your students will also benefit from taking instruction from someone who isn’t you. After all, don’t you get sick of the sound of your own voice after a while, too? On YouTube, your students can learn from the experts or from each other. The beauty of the platform is that it gives everyone a voice.
Obstacles to Using YouTube in the Classroom
But what happens when your school doesn’t trust a technology like YouTube? While you might see YouTube as a total game changer with clear benefits, your admins may see it as Pandora's box. The first step is analyzing the anxiety behind the ban.
Most schools will block YouTube because they see inappropriate content as being too accessible, even though 82% of teens have their own smartphones and can watch YouTube videos whenever they want with no filter.
Another scenario is that your school’s filters are so strong that even though YouTube isn’t banned, the video you tried to show your anatomy class on the different muscle groups got flagged for inappropriate content. There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on a video link to show your class and getting the digital snow and an error message!
The last misconception about YouTube in the classroom is that it allows students to be passive observers rather than active participants. While it can be difficult to measure engagement during video viewing, there are resources that exist just for that purpose. That’s where Edpuzzle comes in.
Using Edpuzzle to Watch YouTube Videos Safely in the Classroom
Edpuzzle is an online platform that allows you to take advantage of the world’s most powerful database of online knowledge and make YouTube work to your advantage.
In terms of filtering inappropriate content, with Edpuzzle, the teachers are the gatekeepers for all content and are the only ones who control which videos students are able to watch. That means that students can’t browse YouTube freely and can only see the videos their teacher assigns them.
Teachers, on the other hand, can view all of the content available on YouTube and save the relevant videos to edit and use in class later.
To combat the stereotype of the passive student watching YouTube videos without engaging with them, Edpuzzle’s got a solution.
Teachers can embed their own comments, audio notes and questions in the video to make sure that not only are students watching, but they’re also understanding and interacting with the material.
All of the stats on how much of a video a student’s watched, how many questions they answered correctly and how many times they watched each portion of the video are logged automatically so the teacher can view everything in their online gradebook.
Say hello to student accountability while watching YouTube videos – it’s the best of both worlds.
Advanced Use of YouTube in the Classroom
For older or more responsible students, you can start handing them the reins so that they themselves can become content creators.
You could create a channel for your school or class, and have students record and upload their very own videos. Think of having your students do the morning announcements like a news broadcast, record student sports complete with commentary, publish their own masterclass on a subject of their choice, make presentations via YouTube video, and the list goes on.
Introduce students to YouTube Creators and watch their creativity blossom as they come up with brilliant ideas to share with your private class/school channel or with the rest of the online world.
You might be surprised at the production quality your students are capable of with little to no coaching!
Takeaways from Introducing YouTube in Your Classroom
You may have to jump through some hoops set by your school or district to get YouTube approved for use in your classroom, but once you make your arguments, it shouldn’t be hard to sway their opinion.
The benefits of flipping your classroom with online videos so outweigh the potential risks, which online platforms like Edpuzzle can eliminate completely, making YouTube totally safe for students.