What Do Teachers Think of YouTube for Schools?
In December of 2011, YouTube announced a new tool called YouTube for Schools that will find better and more effective ways to bring video learning into classrooms around the country. “YouTube for Schools is a technical solution to allow schools that normally restrict access to YouTube to gain access to it,” says Angela Lin, head of YouTube EDU. YouTube states that “Students can learn from more than 400,000 educational videos, from well-known organizations like Stanford, PBS and TED, and from up-and-coming YouTube partners with millions of views, like Khan Academy, Steve Spangler Science and numberphile. Schools can also customize their YouTube for Schools experience, adding videos that are only viewable within their school network.”
It should come as no surprise that we think this is a wonderful idea. Headstand Media is always excited when companies find new ways to use technology for education and learning, whether it’s inside or outside the classroom. But the real question is, what do those who actually teach our children think about YouTube for Schools? Have they even heard of this tool? Would they actually use it? Does YouTube for Schools actually solve a real-world problem for them?
I sent a series of questions about YouTube for Schools to a group of teachers to get their thoughts. Here is what they had to say:
Question: Have you heard of and do you use YouTube for Schools?
Only one teacher had heard about this new tool and none of them had actually used it. It’s unclear how much of this is due to the newness of the program versus the fact that using YouTube for Schools might need to be made at the school or district administration level.
Question: Does your school currently block student access YouTube?
Every teacher that responded said that YouTube was blocked for their students. Some teachers even had it blocked on the laptops they teach from. Here’s an interesting and timely side note from this Tribune article, which states that the Chicago Public Schools are lifting a ban on YouTube as part of an efforts to expand digital learning in the classroom.
Question: If your school was supportive of this tool, would you use YouTube for Schools in your classroom?
Elizabeth Olympio (7th & 8th grade Spanish) “Of course! I am always looking for ways to bring Spanish to life – to get beyond the book, to see and hear language in motion. Videos are engaging – even better if students were hearing native speakers in the videos. The problem up til now has been FINDING the material on-line. There is so much junk out there that it is hard to filter through everything to find something worthwhile. If YouTube for Schools could provide a filter to make sure all material was school-appropriate, and then also provide a user-friendly search engine to find good matches, I would love to use it in my classroom. My school has the technology (all 7th grade students have laptops. I have a projector for my laptop), now I just need some good material to integrate.”
Jessica Johnson (Middle and High School Spanish/ELL) “Absolutely! YouTube is current, informative and briefly explains concepts, culture and subjects in a way that is exciting and relative to High School students. The students of the millennium are growing up in a world that is unlike any other. It is fast, technological and different. Students understand YouTube and can benefit from it. I believe that YouTube would reach visual, kinesthetic and audio learners in brief amount of time.”
Bart Ruggiero (6-8th grade Technology) “Yes. I think that most teachers want to stream media in their classrooms but they usually are banned from using YouTube because of the broad content.”
David Bernthal (9th-11th grade) “Yes. The growing number of tutorials online are a valuable resource for students and teachers. I have often referred students to khanacademy.com when they are absent and have missed my lessons. I might send students (to YouTube for Schools) to view online lessons or tutorials when a Sub is there in my place. Also, I would refer struggling students to such videos for extra support.”
Karen McMillan (Kindergarten) “Yes, I would – I love showing videos to my kids. They respond to and remember things they see. I think it would make some things more “real” to them.”
Nathan Underhill “Yes, because blocking YouTube access at school takes away a great resource.”
Question: Do you have any concerns about YouTube for Schools?
Elizabeth Olympio (7th & 8th grade Spanish) “Just that there would be so much content to sift through that I wouldn’t be able to find the best one for me without spending too much time viewing all the others.”
Karen McMillan (Kindergarten) “I definitely wouldn’t let my kids access it themselves. Even with the filters, there would probably be content intended for older students that wouldn’t be appropriate for Kindergarteners.”
Bart Ruggiero (6-8th grade Technology) “As long as we can customize the content and the videos are appropriate, no.”
Jessica Johnson (Middle and High School Spanish/ELL) “I just hope that the information is accurate, up-to-date and done in a professional way. So many of these “good ideas” become jaded.”
It seems obvious to me that there is a clear need for a tool like this and a desire from teachers to use it in the classroom. The success of it will probably revolve around how much the teaching establishment embraces it and YouTube’s ability to both collect and then keep the site up to date with compelling educational content. Nice work YouTube! Let’s hope this idea takes off!