YouTube has proved to be an invaluable resource for people who are looking to learn new skills, as well as people who want to impart their wisdom to the world.
This typically takes the form of life hacks and DIY videos, but YouTube is just as useful for educational purposes as it is for people who just want to know how to bake a cake and don’t want to take cooking classes or spend a fortune on recipe books.
Whether it’s through using YouTube videos as part of a lesson plan or making YouTube videos to help your students, YouTube can be an invaluable resource for teachers; you just need to know how to use it.
So, in an effort to do our bit for education, here’s our top YouTube tips for teachers!
There are two main ways in which a teacher can use YouTube to assist in their teaching, as we briefly mentioned above.
They are using existing videos to show your students or creating videos to show your students, and some of our tips are specific to one method or the other. To that end, we’ve broken the next section of this post into two parts;
Tips for Teachers Using YouTube in the Classroom
One of the good things about a platform as large as YouTube is there is already an enormous amount of content out there in just about any topic you can think of, which has obvious advantages if you are looking for learning aids to help your students.
Let’s get into some YouTube tips for teachers looking to use the platform’s existing content in the classroom.
At the end of this section, we’ll list off some of our favourite educational channels that you might be able to make use of in your classroom.
Vet Your Choices
We’re sure that, as you are a qualified teacher, this doesn’t need saying. But in the interests of covering all of our bases, we’re going to say it anyway.
Always vet videos that you intend to use in class.
Though it doesn’t necessarily make them wrong, many of the content you will find on YouTube is made by people who do not necessarily have any formal qualifications in the thing they are creating videos on.
Again, it doesn’t automatically make them wrong or unsuitable, but you should give any video you plan to use in a class some thorough scrutiny before adding it to your lesson plans.
This is especially true for younger children, as you will also be vetting the video for inappropriate language and themes. Seeing as you will be showing the video in class, the video doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect.
You can always interject to correct or clarify on particular points, but if the video is quite a way off the mark, outdated, or just inappropriate for a classroom, you don’t want to be the teacher that accidentally plays because they weren’t paying attention.
Look for Entertainment
Finding a video that teaches the right methods is only part of the battle. If you are going to go to the trouble of pulling up YouTube content in class, it should be entertaining for your students.
After all, you could stand at the front of the class and recite text directly from a book if the only goal was to convey information.
The goal is undoubtedly to engage the students so that they take an interest in the topic, and have a much better chance of retaining the information. Look for educational channels with large subscriber counts, as that is usually an indication that they are entertaining.
You can then check out their videos to ensure they suitable from a content standpoint.
Some very informative and detailed educational videos on YouTube can run into hours in length. As a general rule, we would advise not using these videos.
It is not that they are not good, it is just that your students can watch hours of YouTube at home, they shouldn’t be doing it at school as well.
If you stick to videos that are 3-10 minutes long or use longer videos but break them into smaller chunks, you can incorporate them into your lesson, rather than have them be your lesson.
This also gives you more opportunity to make your mark as a teacher. Many people can recall at least one teacher that made a significant positive impact on them as a child.
You don’t want your chance to be that teacher for someone taken away by YouTube.
Pay Attention to Feedback
You will no doubt want to check that your students have understood what they watched, and helping them wrap their brains around anything they were unsure about is a natural part of teaching.
Beyond that, you should be on the lookout for signs that a particular YouTuber is not meshing well with your class.
If a few students struggle with a particular concept, it is probably just those students and that concept.
If, on the other hand, a lot of students regularly struggle to understand things in a certain YouTuber’s video, it may be that the YouTuber’s method just doesn’t work for your students.
Educational YouTubers: Our Picks
As promised, we’ve put together a list of educational YouTubers in a variety of topics that you might find useful for your classroom. We don’t expect you to agree with every suggestion we make, of course, but if you don’t like a particular YouTuber we suggest, be sure to pay attention to the recommended videos sidebar.
There should at least be some recommendations of a similar nature by other YouTubers for you to try.
- Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell – Ideal for younger students, Kurzgesagt covers a variety of topics within science in videos that rarely run longer than 10 minutes, and are beautifully animated with a distinctive art style.
- Veritasium – Run by Derek Muller—a man with a PhD in physics and a healthy curiosity about, well, everything—Vertitasium covers a huge range of topics across many areas, from videos on where the Sun gets its energy, to videos on the most radioactive places on Earth. There is even a helpful playlist for people who are new to the channel.
- Tibees – Toby has an undergraduate degree in physics and maths and makes videos on physics, maths, and astronomy. Her content often has a quirky spin on it, such as explaining complicated mathematical premises in the style of the famous painter, Bob Ross. She has also been known to make videos breaking down past exam papers.
- English With Lucy – The name of the channel tells you all you need to know. Lucy is a teacher herself and makes videos on a range of things to do with the English language, such as comparing British, American, and Australian English, or how to use certain words correctly.
Tips for Teachers Making a YouTube Channel
One of the beautiful things about YouTube is that it is open to almost anyone, and there is nothing to stop you making your own content if you can’t find what you need on the platform already.
Or if you just feel like you could do it better than what is already available.
If this notion appeals to you, keep reading for some more YouTube tips for teachers who want to make videos.
Public or Private?
Before you start making videos for your students, you should take a moment to decide exactly who these videos are for.
If you are specifically making videos for your class, and you don’t necessarily want people outside of your class seeing them, you should upload them as unlisted, and share the link to the video with your students. Of course, there would be nothing to stop your students sharing the link, but that is, unfortunately, one of the limitations of YouTube.
Another reason to make this decision before you start filming is that it could make quite a difference in how you put your videos together.
If you are making videos for just your students, that is a relatively small audience and one that you can get immediate feedback from.
If, on the other hand, you are making your videos for wider public consumption, you will need to put serious thought into how your videos are put together. It is not enough to merely be accessible to everyone in the world; there has to be a reason to choose your video over one of the alternatives. Try to make your videos entertaining and, above all, clearly explain the subject matter.
A trap many people fall into on YouTube is doing things they are not comfortable with for the views. This can happen in many ways, but as a teacher, you should avoid letting this happen to you.
Children today are constantly connected to the Internet and, as a result, each other.
There are many benefits to this, but it also means they are very aware of things and, to be frank, quite blunt about what they see.
If you make a YouTube video where you are trying to be “hip” and “cool” while teaching maths, your students are as likely to make your life miserable over it as they are to learn from it.
Be Careful About Involving Your Students
Involving your students can be a great way to get your class engaged in the process and help them absorb the subject matter more readily.
However, parents can be very twitchy about their children being filmed and posted on the Internet, even if the video is unlisted.
We’re not saying don’t do it, but you should certainly seek the permission of your student’s parents or legal guardians before putting them in a video.
Have Local Backups on Hand
Making videos isn’t easy, and if you go to the trouble of making a YouTube video for your students, you’re going to want to use it. Many schools don’t allow YouTube through their firewall, and even in today’s connected world, Internet dropouts can happen.
If you plan to play your videos in class, have them with you on a local device, such as a memory stick so that you can play them regardless of what the situation with the Internet and YouTube is at your school.
Film Entire Lessons
If you are a particularly entertaining teacher, it might be worth filming your lessons in their entirety.
This would also serve as an excellent way to help students to catch up when they have missed school for whatever reason. Rather than giving them notes, you can send them the entire lesson as it happened.
Granted, you would have to be a very entertaining teacher—or teaching an incredibly interesting topic—for this kind of video to have a broader appeal beyond your immediate students. Also, given the number of school days in a year and the number of lessons in a day, it would very quickly run into a lot of videos, so you might have to consider only keeping the latest lessons.
However, this kind of video would also be the easiest to make, as there would be no need for editing. You could simply press record at the start, stop at the end, and upload the result.
Try to Make Your Content Evergreen
If you are not just recording your lessons in full, as suggested above, we strongly recommend making your videos evergreen.
Evergreen content is content that holds relevance long after it has been uploaded. For example, a video on a clever method to work out the multiples of nine would be evergreen, as it would be as relevant in ten years as it is today.
However, a similar video but using fleeting cultural references to help get the point across could well be outdated in a year. Or less given the half-life of some celebrities these days!
By making your content evergreen, it becomes a valuable resource for you to use to help your students for years to come, not just the students you have when you make it. And, if you choose to make your videos publicly available, the same logic applies.