In 2009, I attended the wedding of a good friend who wanted to wear a bow tie to the ceremony. He was opposed to wearing a clip-on but could not tie a bow tie. He told me he learned to tie it by watching YouTube. That resourceful friend is the first example in my memory of someone using YouTube to learn something new.
Today, it is well understood that YouTube is a great platform for learning. The iconic Crash Course channel has more than five million subscribers and teaches multiple subjects. TED-Ed makes high-quality short animated videos about many topics. The Great War posts weekly videos about what happened in World War I exactly a hundred years ago in addition to many single-subject special episodes. By the time the channel is complete, it will be a massive open online course (MOOC) that gives learners an exhaustively deep understanding of World War I. Much like my friend learned how to tie a bow tie on YouTube, my wife and I learn how to make delicious meals from the Edgy Veg. One last example to drive this home - a family taught themselves how to build their own home by watching YouTube!
So Who Goes To This Website That Teaches People So Much?
The middle school, high school, and college students we teach don't just like YouTube - they are addicted to it. One study found 85% of Americans aged 13 to 24 regularly watch it and two-thirds of them say they "can't live without it." You can read the full report which puts average YouTube viewership for 13 to 24 year-olds at 6.2 hours a week, for yourself.
Why Does This Matter?
This matters because many school districts are still blocking YouTube, cutting students off from a great resource and missing an important opportunity to engage them. As Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton said, "If you want to reach kids today, you need to be in the digital realm." Teachers should take heed of that advice and put their lessons on YouTube. As teachers try blended learning, taking YouTube away from students is certain to hamper those efforts.
I design digital breakouts to engage students in content through gamification. Sometimes I use EdPuzzle to add interactivity to YouTube videos in these breakouts. I often receive disheartening emails from teachers who want to use my breakouts with their students but can't because their district blocks YouTube. This is just one example of how students miss out when their district blocks YouTube.
It's Not All or Nothing
Districts do not need to open every video on YouTube to students. In my district, teachers can unblock YouTube videos for their students with the click of a button:
While students don't need Phil Collins videos unblocked, they deserve to have their teachers empowered to share and use the wealth of educational content on YouTube.
It is 2017. Let's make school relevant to our students by incorporating YouTube in our efforts to reach them. Thank you for reading and considering this argument. If you would like to discuss this issue further, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.
Thank you, Canva, the tool I used to make the image for this post.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT RECEIVED COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND FOR MENTIONING THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES IN THIS POST. I WAS NOT SOLICITED TO WRITE THIS POST AND I HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THE COMPANIES MENTIONED.