Top 5 Reasons YouTube is a Great Educational Tool

By: Chris Crum - November 13, 2008

Google may be frequently coming up with different ways to monetize YouTube lately, and the community may be full of silly, or dare I even say stupid videos, but there are plenty of educational ones too, and besides that, YouTube can make for a great platform for education in general. I’m not talking just about in schools, although I don’t see why it can’t apply there too.

1. Powerpoint Presentations

Powerpoint presentations are great for lectures, and YouTube videos can enhance them. Amit Agarwal brings up a good point in an article at Digital Inspiration, though. Depending on your presentation environment, you might experience some technical difficulties once you’re actually up there in front of your audience if you just embed the videos without planning ahead.

"Will you be presenting to a live audience in a Wi-fi enabled conference room with good Internet speed or are there any chances that you may have to deliver the presentation video in an offline environment (like a classroom)?" asks Agarwal." The reason I asked this is because each situation requires a different approach."

He is also kind enough to share some video tutorials (see one sample below) on how to:

– embed YouTube videos directly into Powerpoint
– Play YouTube videos in PowerPoint without the Internet, and
– Get videos from Google Docs into Powerpoint

2. Translation Features

Recently, YouTube announced some new translation features that let you translate videos that have captions into a number of different languages.  This should be huge for making videos accessible to a wider audience around the world, because there is no reason to think we can’t learn a lot more when we break down the language barrier and get info from different places around the world. 

YouTube Translation

"When you add captions to your video in one language, it will be readable to almost everybody through auto translate," writes the YouTube Team in a blog post. "While machine translation is not perfect, we hope this will help creators to offer you a better understanding of their videos."

3. Embedding Videos Anywhere They’re Relevant

YouTube recently reported that 44% of their users watch embedded videos. The educational element to this comes from the ability to embed those videos on any site or social media profile they are relevant (or Powerpoint presentation for that matter). The more videos are spread around, the wider audience they will attract, and depending on the educational merit of the video, the more people will learn.

Complimenting this concept, YouTube also recently announced some updated features to its embedding capabilities. These include:

– High-quality Thumbnails
– The ability to search from the embeddable player
– Integrated Video annotations, and
– Intergrated Closed Captions

YouTube embedded video search box

More on all of that here.

4. Jumping To Key Moments in a Video

YouTube videos can often be cited as references or used to prove a point, but sometimes that point is not so evident until say, 20 minutes into the video, by which point, any viewer following a link to that video may lose interest.

YouTube recently eliminated this problem by adding a "deep linking" option, which allows those linking to YouTube videos to point directly to a specific moment in the video. To do this, you simply make a URL adjustment as YouTube explains:

To create a deep link, append the following to the end of a YouTube video URL: #t=1m15s. This says to link to the time 1:15 – you can replace the numbers before the ‘m’ and the ‘s’ with anything you like.

As an additional bonus, if you mention a specific time in a video comment, e.g. "haha 1:14 is funny", this will become a hyperlink. Viewers can simply click on the time and the video will automatically jump to the point you are referencing. Pretty cool huh?

It’s not too hard to see where this feature would be useful when trying to educate people about things.

5. The Addition of a Sesame Street Channel

Being a reasonably new father, I am always on the lookout for fun ways that my daughter can learn. Being a child of Sesame Street background myself, I am ecstatic that I can share this great show with her as well (although other sites offer clips as well). I’m sure many other parents out there agree.

Of course, the show is still on the air, but come on. It’s a lot more fun for us parents to revisit classic clips that we remember from our own childhoods and share them with the next generation. Now I can watch in awe as my little girl learns things like her ABCs, numbers, and the difference between "near" and "far" courtesy of Grover and company (although I should note that the videos on the actual Sesame Street channel do not appear to be embeddable for some reason. I had to search YouTube for the above clip).

Those are just a few of the ways that online video can actually contribute to the higher learning of indvidiuals as online video continues to take off in popularity. What are some other ways you can think of that YouTube or online video in general can be of educational use?

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
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