Self-directed learning with YouTube

This tweet from @pluke17 got me thinking…



He shared a link to this photo of his son Declan’s art work:

I thought it was a pretty amazing drawing, and I was equally impressed that this 11-year-old had found something he wanted to learn and knew exactly where to find the information that would help him.

I personally use YouTube a lot for learning all sorts of things, including new recipes, using new software, and looking for help with existing software. I remember when I first discovered how useful it was – it was a revelation!

I put the call out on Twitter to see what sorts of things other people were learning, and I got lots of interesting responses:


This is just a sample of the suggestions my PLN came up with – the Tip of the Iceberg (if you will excuse the pun).

It’s obvious great self-directed learning is happening at home for many people, but are our students, parents and teachers aware of what can be learned through YouTube?

Jeff and Kim at ISB had parents search ‘how to’ videos on YouTube for things they were interested in during a parent workshop on Social Networking. What a great way of informing parents about the potential uses of YouTube!

It would be great to see students have an opportunity to use YouTube to help further their learning in a variety of areas too. There are videos about spelling rules, times tables, taking action, learning French, learning the recorder, learning punctuation, how to cook, throwing a rugby ball, how to draw cartoons, how to make stop motion animation… The list goes on. Why aren’t we encouraging kids explore ways to help themselves?

I suspect people are worried students might come across an inappropriate video in their quest for quality information. Even though this may occur in some instances, I feel it is a perfect learning opportunity for students. Two questions immediately spring to mind that I would ask the students before they even touched the computers:

1. What should you do if you come across something that makes you feel uncomfortable?
2. How can the careful selection of keywords help you find the most relevant content?

Here are some other ways YouTube has been used in classroom settings:

  • Hot DogsOur Grade 2 students inquired into the origins of food products for their unit From Field to Table, and watched YouTube videos of  how different foods were made (such as this one on Fortune Cookies) to augment their print research. It was especially good for those who had difficulties reading.
  • Kathy Epps at ISOCS has YouTube playlists for videos that highlight the PYP Attitudes, e.g. this playlist for Respect. There are lists of books suitable for the PYP out there, but it’s great to see YouTube being used as a resource in a similar way.
  • Many of us use the Common Craft videos on YouTube to introduce applications or ideas to students or staff. Their simple and effective method of explanation appeals to all.

How have you used YouTube as a learning resource? Would you encourage students to head to YouTube to learn more about things they are interested in?

I look forward to your ideas!

5 thoughts on “Self-directed learning with YouTube

  1. Great post Keri-Lee! YouTube is so great for self-directed learning. It’s a shame that so many school districts are blocking it. Students need to learn what to do when they stumble on inappropriate content, and if we don’t teach them in the school environment, they are not going to develop the tools necessary on their own.


    • I couldn’t agree more – I really feel for those teachers and students in schools that block YouTube. I am glad our school is so progressive in that area!

      We don’t throw kids in the water & say, “Learn to swim!” We need to make sure kids get the skills necessary to navigate the sea of information out there…


  2. Great post! We are also lucky not to have YouTube blocked at our school. The students use it for all kind of research and most recently explored seed dispersal with the help of a fantastic video.
    I agree that this is a great tool for those who don’t benefit as much from reading.

    Last year I explored how a school performance was handled around the globe while we were planning ours. And now I might check what is has to offer for Earth Day!


  3. Pingback: VideoJug | geekapedia

  4. Hi There!
    I use youtube a lot with my class. It is only accessible through a teacher log in, so we usually view things as a whole class on our whiteboard. I have created an account and bookmarked my account homepage, instead of the youtube homepage. This way I know there will not be any inappropriate video stills that may appear on the home page. By having a list of favourites and playlists set up, any video has been checked by me before adding. One thing that often can be inappropriate is comments. Unfortunately you have to check the whole page before showing a video. If my kids want to show something they have to put it in the suggestion box and I will check it at home and then add it to my favourites. Then when i open youtube at school it is already there, no risky searches.
    So what do i use it for?
    Heaps of educational things, artists, socials studies concepts, values education.
    We also have a lot of fun things we watch as lesson breaks, attention grabbers, pack up videos (funny animals, domino challenges, house of cards, inspirational songs, sand art)
    As I teach a class of all boys, we watch heaps of hip hop dance groups – clips from Britain’s Got Talent, etc. We really love Keith Fitzpatrick’s “hip hop moves for kids” videos, and we are learning all of them!

    I think with careful selection, Youtube is a great teaching tool!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s