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Friday, November 1, 2013

Can YouTube be Educational?

YouTube has been around eight years, and in that time has grown from a small video sharing site with only 65,000 videos uploaded daily (1) to a HUGE social media site with 100 hours of video uploaded every minute (2) ! In that time it has seen memes come and go, watched stars rise and fall, and seen content shift.

But can YouTube be educational? The answer, unequivocally, is yes. Yes, YouTube can be 100% educational. Mixed in with the funny cat videos and baby's doing cute things are videos about how to set up your new digital camera, demonstrating skills and hobbies, and explaining complex academic topics. But how do you sort through the random, time-wasters with the real educational content? Well, there are a few ways you can do that.
  1. Check out YouTube's Education portal. From here you can drill down into different topics such as science, math, and history. You can also go into specific age ranges (primary & secondary, university, and lifelong learning). This is a great place to start finding content.
  2. Do a web search for "great educational youtube channels". You'll get hundreds of people that have done the work for you and found a list of great channels to start you off with.
  3. Look at who some of your favorite educational channels are subscribed to or who they like. Below you can see what channels the SCC channel likes. (SCC currently doesn't have any subscriptions to other channels.)
Now, you may be wondering, if YouTube can be such a great source for educational content, why do some schools block it? Well, that has to do with some federal laws that were enacted in 2000. You can read more HERE, but basically the the law states that public schools need to have some form of internet filtering in order to block content that may be harmful to minors. When YouTube first started, there was MUCH less educational content and very few videos that were aimed at children or young adults. I order to protect our students, many districts blocked YouTube. However, as the educational content on YouTube has increased, the question has been raised if districts should allow it to be unblocked.

No matter where or how you access YouTube, there are many educational videos that you can access. Having critical thinking skills is imperative when you are doing any kind of internet browsing though, so you are able to discern what is worthwhile and what is a waste of time. Read the title and summary of a video before you click. Figure out how is the posting channel and look at the video thumbnail. If all those things look good, then try the video out. Don't just jump in and click on the first video for your search (Hint: most of the time it is an ad.)

So after all that, the answer to the question is yes, YouTube can be educational.

Have a wonderful day and DFTBA!

(1) "YouTube Serves up 100 Million Videos a Day Online." USATODAY.com. Gannett Co. Inc, 16 July 2006. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-07-16-youtube-views_x.htm>.
(2)"Statistics." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html>.

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