YouTube

by stephenholloran1

Why ignore it! You know you use it! YouTube is a great ‘old’ tool for teaching. We use it so much we sometimes forget just how useful it is. If we set up accounts on sites such as Weebly to create webpages, for instance, YouTube videos can actually become a part of the site. The video stays intact just like any document and can be accessed with one click of a button at any time and directly from the site. Also, how many times have teachers put on a YouTube video on a Smart board to supplement class activities? For instance, I taught a segment on Canadian history, and specifically the brave souls that tight-rope walked across Niagara Falls a hundred years ago. Students were amazed at the videos. The fact that all sorts of obscure videos exist on YouTube means there is almost always something available that will supplement a lesson. In fact, it is too available. Some teachers tend to show too many videos or they simply show the videos with no real pedagogical method. The use of YouTube should be done in a disciplined manner. Worksheets can be made just like for any listening activity. In addition, teachers can set up playlists therefore they can conveniently organize their activities by themes. Another advantage is that real life situations can be shown to students. The real advantage of YouTube – at least from a language learning point of view – is that it offers authentic examples of everyday English used by everyday people. Students today tend to prefer authentic content and YouTube has an endless supply. In addition, current events around the world often end up on YouTube long before they are on mainstream TV news. For instance, in 2012 nine Peruvian miners were trapped for a week. One of my students found out about it during the break on his smart phone and almost the entire class stayed in the classroom during the break to watch the drama unfold on YouTube. This is not to say class should be stopped to watch YouTube, but when special events occur it is an invaluable link to authentic information that catches student’s attention. For example, several of the students who watched the miners on YouTube were not particularly enthusiastic with the regular listening activities, but when real-life events occurred they were very willing the follow along in English, their second’s language. This is certainly quite ‘low tech’ but it is free, easy, easily accessible from any computer and very visual. There is the danger of having little student input, but this can be avoided by students uploading their own videos to YouTube that can, in fact be posted on a private group, that only the class can see. You can teach students video production and editing skills through projects and upload the videos to your classes YouTube channel.  In this way students can become familiar with other Google tools such as Google drive. This will prove to be a valuable combination with the videos …  in that students can communicate and create documents on the drive that could, for instance, be plans for their activities in their YouTube group. In fact, the administrators of YouTube recognize its potential as a pedagogical tool and have created EDU which lets you discover, create, and share educational videos. So next time you are thinking about finding a new educational tool for the classroom … think about the ‘old one’ which may just surprise you and how ‘not old’, it really is!

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