I have yet to meet an educator who denies the potential value of online video as a teaching tool. But with more than 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there's a vast difference between choosing a video because you can, and spending the time to identify those clips that will have a real impact on student learning.
When the YouTube EDU staff joined forces with online learning provider Khan Academy earlier this year to honor the best educational videos on the web, the goal was to identify producers of educational content that teachers, students and parents could rely on and actually use.
If you're looking for video-based lessons to engage your students, check out this two-minute preview featuring all 10 "Next EDU" gurus. As one educator puts it, these lessons represent "a return to the essence of what education should be." I agree. But I'm also willing to bet some of these videos are unlike anything you've seen before.
Introducing the "Next EDU" gurus:
Mitchell Moffit says the goal of the channel he created with fellow educator Gregory Brown is to "take the most awesome aspects of science and put it into a fun, short, entertaining stop-motion, whiteboard-style video." Learn about a variety of topics, from why we blush to why power naps are good for us. So far, AsapSCIENCE videos have been viewed nearly 6 million times.
James Earle, a cultural history teacher in East Hampton, N.Y., says "the basic philosophy of the channel is twofold": (1) Works of art can serve as stand-alone teaching tools, and (2) art can inform lessons in other subject areas and disciplines, such as mathematics and science.
Says creator Alex Dainis, "When you can understand, appreciate, and peel back the layers of science that surround your daily life, the world gets a lot cooler." Dainis says the ideas for her videos come from everyday conversations with her friends and from "the ever-present question of why." For example, why do people get brain freezes? Or, how does caffeine wake you up?
Homeschooling dad Ed and his son Alan travel around the country, from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon, sharing lessons about cultural and historical events, from Groundhog Day to the Civil War. Says Ed, "If we can inspire dads and moms to take their kids to the battlefields and the zoos and the concerts and actually learn together, well, that would be fantastic."
Loretta Scott (aka Kemushi Chan) has produced a series of videos to help students learn Japanese. Scott uses true-to-life video skits that combine spoken and written Japanese, along with English translations, to help students make the connection between the two languages. She offers many tips and tricks that are sure to improve fluency and ease the frustrations of learning a language.
Creator Myles Power launched his YouTube Channel back in 2006, when he "only came on YouTube to watch cats doing people things." As Myles tells it, things began to change two years ago, when he started uploading science videos on such subjects as vaccinations and homeopathy. Now, his videos show students how to conduct simple home-based experiments using common household items.
When veteran educator Keith Hughes isn't teaching students at McKinley High School in Buffalo, N.Y., you can find him producing a series of U.S. history video lectures to share with his more than 4,000 online subscribers. You've seen online lectures before, but not like this. "What I try to do is not just teach the kid who's pressing the button because he wants to," says Hughes of his colorful lessons, which often include music, sound effects, animation and other multimedia, "but I'm also trying to teach that kid who is being made to watch."
2011 Montana Teacher of the Year Paul Andersen has produced hundreds of science videos about anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics. "I think what sets my science videos apart from other videos on YouTube is that I spend hours on each one, figuring out what I want to talk about and what graphics are going to be useful." He adds, "I've also given all of these lessons in class, so I know where students are going to struggle." With more than 26,000 subscribers, there's little doubt Andersen is doing something right.
Kristen is "a native English speaker with 10 years of Spanish classes and experience." She says her YouTube channel, which features a series of Spanish grammar tutorials she leads herself, aims "to help students get better grades, teachers to make their classes more engaging, and, for those who are learning Spanish on their own, to supplement their personal learning." She plans to expand her channel by offering cultural videos as well as tips and tricks to enhance language acquisition.
Kevin is a math teacher from Ottawa, Canada, who uses his YouTube channel to explain math's role in the creation of many of the apps we use in our daily lives. "So," he says, "check out my videos and let me know of your favorite app, because there's math for that."