YouTube, YouLearn

This is an extract from Assignment 1, “Harnessing digital technologies to engage students in the learning process.”  This paper focused on ways that educators can take advantage of current digital technologies and the associated participatory culture, with which youth are engaging.  Through the integration  of these digital technologies, it is possible to deliver pedagogical practices that can engage our youth and give them ownership of the learning process.  However, due to the large variety of digital participatory technologies, I focused on only two, YouTube and Edmodo.  In this blog, I have chosen one of the sections on YouTube to share, as I enjoy using YouTube in my classrooms simply because it is entertaining and it makes learning fun.  Learning should be fun, it should capture the students imaginations and fire them to ask questions and seek knowledge.

I use YouTube in the Junior Science classroom (years 6 to 10), and the senior Biology class to demonstrate various scientific concepts.  In this way I am able to engage students during the initial introductory phase of a topic and later to enhance and reinforce content taught.  An example of some useful YouTube clips are: the “Crash Course Videos” by Hank Green; and the series on Human Body Systems, both of which are extremely useful when teaching units in science.  Hank presents his material in a multimodal format that is humorous, informative, educational, accurate, and entertaining.  The students enjoy the presentations because they are being entertained, but at the same time, they are learning and engaging with the content.  Another excellent example of a YouTube video I have used for a Year 6 class studying electricity is the “Brainiac –Electric Fence.”  It was highly engaging for a class of young country children from farming properties, whom have all played with electric fences.  During our follow-up discussions, they shared some hilarious stories and anecdotes with me and their peers.  In this way I was able to draw on a wealth of student prior knowledge and expertise and at the same time discuss the scientific mechanism for the movement of electrons, generation of current and the effect of insulation.  These are only a few examples that I have used in the classroom, but they illustrate how these ‘YouTube attractions’, which present educational content to the student viewers as a ‘cinema of attractions’ (Rizzo, 2008), can engage them in the learning process.  Rizzo states that YouTube has a similarity to the early films of exhibitionist cinema.  They resemble these films in the way that they address the audience directly and are frequently sensational and shocking (Rizzo, 2008).   As result, they are extremely good at appealing to the modern youth in our schools.  In summary, the films from YouTube, can be highly specific and purposeful to the curriculum topics being addressed in the classroom whilst also supporting student learning by engaging the students through the spectacle of attraction.

Many students are already producers of videos, that they are able to up-load, view, rate, share and comment on through YouTube.  In this sense, they are no longer spectators but participators.  In my quest for the educational material to be found on YouTube, I have come across examples of student work that has been clearly produced as part of assessment tasks.  Research by Willmot et al (2012) shows, that incorporating video reporting, such as this, into the curriculum as a learning and assessment tool, helps to develop deeper learning by better inspiring and engaging students. So the potential is there to use YouTube to engage the students in the creation of multimodal texts to address their studies and thereby enabling a deeper understanding of, and engagement with, the curriculum.

Below is a link to the “Brainiac – Electric Fences.” Click on the image.  It is a real cracker, but educational at the same time!  If you have ever played with electric fences as a kid or even just had that unfortunate contact when climbing through, you will know exactly what I mean.  The students certainly did!



Brainiac – Electric Fences


Rizzo, T. (2008) “YouTube: the New Cinema of Attractions” Scan Journal (5)1 Online at:  Accessed:  August 13, 2016

Willmot, P., Bramhall, M. Radley, K. (2012)  “Using digital video reporting to inspire and engage students.” Research gate, p. 1-7  Accessed: August 29, 2016

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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