Monday, September 22, 2014

The YouTube Generation

Photo by jonsson,
It's no doubt that YouTube is a great tool for watching, sharing, and creating videos. It's been around as long as I can remember, and I'm not sure if I've ever not gone to YouTube when I've wanted to learn about something. My most recent example of this was a few days ago when I started thinking about ebonics. If you don't know, ebonics (or African American English) is a dialect of English most commonly spoken by African Americans. While I had heard of ebonics before, I hadn't really learned anything about it, nor heard it being spoken fluently. I, of course, turned to YouTube and found this video:

Within this video, a school demonstrates how they've been teaching their students (who primarily speak African American English at home) how to speak American English. They treat each of these dialects as two distinct languages, and they've been having huge success in helping students speak academic English, whereas normally, ebonics-speakers might get in trouble or ignored because they don't speak correctly. Definite win for YouTube. I was able to search for my topic and watch a short, informative video (with an example in education, no less!) in less than 5 minutes.

This is what YouTube is all about. Yes, we may like to watch cat videos and have a laugh at someone's expense because the video of them falling off of a trampoline went viral, but really, we use YouTube to learn things. We do research every day through YouTube. We look up news stories, we get updates from our favorite bands or celebrities, we wonder about random things and learn about them through YouTube. There's an entire category on YouTube for education, (YouTube EDU) where YouTube "brings learners and educators together in a global video classroom." This isn't for people who are currently in college somewhere, this is for anyone with a desire to learn. Your 13 year old cousin is a genius and wants to learn about biochemistry but doesn't have the means in school? She can find entire courses on YouTube that she can take, completely for free. Your grandma decides that she wants to finally take that trip to Russia she's always wanted to go on? She can watch hundreds of videos about the culture and brush up on her Russian (or learn from scratch). What about the guy who dropped out of high school and now works a minimum wage, dead-end job? As long as he has access to internet, either at home, a library, coffee shop, etc., he can start learning about topics he's never even dreamed about.

Photo by aisletwentytwo,

Of course YouTube isn't completely educational. You do have to be careful when you use YouTube in class because not every video is appropriate. Inappropriate content can also pop up in the video suggestions sidebar, and the comments people leave on videos are often not suitable for children to read. If these things make you less excited about using YouTube in the classroom, an alternative is TeacherTube, an online community for sharing educational videos. While I haven't personally used TeacherTube yet, I've heard extremely positive things about it and I think it offers a great solution for teachers who don't want their students on YouTube or if they want a more educationally-themed video resource for themselves.

Regardless, YouTube is changing education. Whether it's by letting everyone become a learner and viewing instructional videos or by letting everyone become content creators by uploading their original videos, YouTube can be a great resource. Check out this article to read more about how YouTube is revolutionizing education, or watch some of 2013's ten most popular education YouTube videos.

How do you plan to use YouTube in education? Have you ever run into things that you can't find on YouTube? Have you uploaded your own content?

Lastly, I'll leave you with this graphic, which I think explains social media in general pretty well. ;)

Photo by ChrisL_AK,

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