Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Introducing YouTube for Schools

...educational heaven for the digital natives?

Beginning a new year with good news. Lots of us are already taking advantage of YouTube and its almost unlimited video-treasures in our lessons. But we are often scared when it comes to letting the students free in this environment - let's say, not all you can find in YouTube could exactly be considered from an educational point of view. And guess what kind of videos will catch our pupils' eye? Those videos of course (the latest pop icon's or cute puppy's video, if you're lucky... something more inappropriate if you're not). I've actually had partners in different Comenius projects whose schools restricted access to YouTube to avoid this problem. At the same time, however, they were preventing their teachers and students to take advantage of huge learning opportunities (not to mention the appeal of videos on young learners).

Now, YouTube is launching a brand new tool to suit the needs of the educational world:
YouTube for Schools” is a portal offering free education materials and videos, while limiting access to other YouTube content that could be inappropriate, offensive or simply distracting.

I still know very little about this new opportunity, but it looks like it could be another interesting network setting as well. In fact, schools will be able to access only educational materials on YouTube EDU: which will both keep a safe environment for the learners and connect teachers and students through posts, comments, etc.

Now a funny question of my own: how did they label videos as "educational" or not?
I read YouTube worked with teachers, experts and organizations to select the available content. Because of course, if a video isn’t on YouTube EDU, it won’t show up in YouTube for Schools.
But who can say: 'this is educational, this is not'? I think a video can be an educational tool or just a simple entertainment depending on the aims and creativity of the teacher. Some of my most successful lessons (in terms of students' participation, involvement... and later assessment) took advantage of silly video commercials. And I'm quite sure they won't be on YouTube Edu.

I believe it's up to teachers to choose materials and tools for their lesson. And they'll manage someway to keep a safe environment for their students. That said, I think YouTube for Schools is a great opportunity. What's more, YouTube is trying to make the site an open conversation, welcoming teachers' suggestions of new playlists, comments and requests.

As usual, I've more ideas than I can deal with :) and I can picture in my mind lots of eTwinning/Comenius/EU related pathways and activities we could enrich or carry out with this new opportunity.

What do you think? Will this be another tool for a more motivating, efficient and rewarding everyday lesson?


  1. Dear Laura,
    I agree with you, many times it could be very subjecive what kind of materials is useful for our lessons. For example in a foreign language lesson so many topics there are...and sometimes the next "pass" depends on our pupils, and on the new ideas, not on the school-books.
    But, a new opportunity brings new materials, and I think, it could be good.)
    Maybe you know as well, but there is an other place too for teachers where you could find materials for your lessons, the name is TeacherTube. Hope, you will find it useful.)
    Hugs,and thank you for sharing us the new opportunity),Mónika

  2. Hi Laura and Monika,
    I'm sure almost any type of video can be used in an educational manner and any teacher has criteria for selecting educationally suitable video clips.
    Of course having a ready made selection of "educational" videos can give teachers help in terms of quality and safety (and time saving).
    Videos can encourage interactivity and engagement, motivate and empower our pupils. However, as usual, it depends on how you use them and with which objectives.
    To my mind videos shouldn't be too long and have to be inserted into a path having pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing in order to prepare, support and consolidate the experience.
    No easy job again!
    A big hug!

  3. I agree with you Mariella. Any type of video can be exploited at school. The success or failure of a video-based lesson (of any lesson in fact) depends on the amount of time and effort the teacher put in structuring the lesson in order to reach precise objectives.
    Unfortunately, some teachers use videos at school the same way parents use TV at home: as a baby-sitting tool. That's not educational technology. That's entertaining. Not enough at school.
    On the other hand, there are lots of engaged teachers, like you Mariella, Laura, Monika (me!) and lots of others who try to use the video to engage, motivate, and support students (sometimes as a context, as it was said said in another post).
    It's not an easy job, as you say, but it's exciting, and fun (most of the time, when you're not too tired!)