Tuesday, August 30, 2011

YouTube Playlists: Tips for Teaching Effectively with Video

Evidence has shown that many college professors use YouTube for teaching.  I'm really not sure what that means, as there are a plethora of ways to "use YouTube" as a professor.  I think most professors today are linking YouTube videos into their classes but what else can we be doing?  Or how else can we use YouTube as a learning resource for our students?

I regularly encourage college professors to have a free YouTube account included in their essential teaching toolkit. First, having an account will at the very least open the door for you to start to think about creating and sharing your own videos (with a Creative Commons license, please, so we all can benefit from your greatness).  But even if you don't upload your own videos, an account allows you to begin curating your own video content into playlists which can kick up the volume of effective use of YouTube videos as content in your classes -- and then you can get more creative about how to use them to foster student-centered learning environments too.


What are YouTube playlists?
For example, in my YouTube account, I have set up a few different playlists and as I upload my own videos and search for existing videos, I can add related content to each playlist.  You can think of a playlist as a "collection" or a "folder" or a "group" if that helps.  Here are my existing playlists:
  1) Teaching with Emerging Technologies: Tips, tricks, and samples of effective practices for teaching with emerging technologies.
  2) History of Photography:  Videos that, well, are about the history of photography.
  3) Daguerreotype and Calotype:  Videos that demonstrate the two early photographic processes.  Now the videos in this playlist are also in my "History of Photography" playlist.

How can playlists be used effectively to support learning?
Let's say you are teaching a focused unit that covers a specific topic and you have three videos (keep them brief and focused) you want to share with your students.
Your options are:
  1. Link out from your course management system to each of the three videos.  Booo! Why oh why would you want to send your students out to YouTube even once, let alone three times!  There's always something more tantalizing than your course content on YouTube. Be real.
  2. Embed each of the three videos in your course management sytem.  Restrained applause. A better option, as your students' focus and flow stays within your course.  But embedding three videos takes up a lot of real estate in a course.
  3. Embed your playlist!  Standing ovation!  Now we're talking.  With playlists, you can embed a small player in your course management system that plays each video in your playlist in a sequence, one right after the other.  
  4. And how about taking this one step further?  Jaw drops to ground. If you use a collaborative environment (like Ning -- my favorite) to facilitate your students' learning, you can have your students collaboratively curate their own relevant playlists or groups of videos.  You give them the topic and criteria, they find they video and contribute it to the group.  Then this collaboratively constructed content can be engaged by the rest of the class in a range of activities -- like blog posts!
  • Tip!  Be sure to clearly indicate how long the entire playlist is so your students can plan accordingly.  And keep it as brief as possible.   
    Want to see this tip in action?  Watch this 3-minute video:
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