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Date Author Title
2012-04-24 Steve Gardiner Online Education--Part 1--YouTube

While I knew there were many uses for YouTube videos, I hadn't spent much time looking around there. I suppose I was still stuck with a view of it as a resource for videos on funny things a cat could do or daredevils trying to jump over obstacles on bicycles.

Then one day, a senior girl, one of our valedictorians, walked into class and said, “I love YouTube. I would not be passing Calculus if it weren't for YouTube.” I asked what she meant and she explained that she had found a college professor on YouTube that explained math concepts in a way that clicked for her. “I listen in class, but it doesn't always make sense. I watch the videos on YouTube, and I get it,” she said.


I surveyed my classes, and in each one, almost all students had used YouTube videos for entertainment, but more interesting to me, about half of all students had used YouTube to help them with classwork. One student said, “The advantage is I can keep going back to it multiple times. I can watch the video until I understand it.”


Students in my classes said they had used YouTube to help with the following things:

  • Math (to review concepts)

  • History (events during wars, see places where events happened)

  • Science (to review terms or see labs)

  • Geography (to see images of different countries)

  • Band (to learn how to play a song)

  • Choir (listen to how a song should sound)

  • Computer science (program tutorials)

  • Health (workouts and nutrition ideas)


Students said they found the explanations quick and simple, and noted that the topics they need are easy to find. Any topic they need is available. They reported that several of their teachers had used YouTube videos in class to support course content and that students had used them on their own time at home to help with homework.


Many students also reported using YouTube for entertainment or personal education. “I learned how to play many songs on my guitar by watching videos on YouTube,” one boy said. “I have used it to learn about other personal things, too. It has been a big help when I want to learn something, and when I watch it on a video, I get it.”

Part 2 in this series will examine the OpenCourseWare project which offers college classes online for free through MIT, and Part 3 will take a look at the offerings of the Khan Academy.

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