YouTube & Learning

In the past, when you wanted to learn a new skill such as playing a musical instrument, using certain software, or speaking a new language, you had to enroll in courses that required you to be physically present in a classroom. As technology of the Internet progressed, online courses and classes became more and more available. At one time, such courses were only offered by formal institutions and were given by “experts” in their fields. Some websites were specialized in software training and tutorials, and at most times those sites were not free.

As new media and social networks appeared into the scene, innovative mediums that allowed peer-to-peer sharing of content were created. People were able to utilize those mediums to promote the sharing of knowledge and to be self-taught with skills they were interested in acquiring. YouTube in particular is a huge example of this. Today, you can search YouTube’s millions of clips and find lessons on almost every skill imaginable – from graphics design, coding, dancing, playing instruments, applying makeup, cooking,  and more. You can also create videos of your own to demonstrate and teach others a skill you excel at.

Here are a few examples:

Playing the guitar

Dancing Ballet

Animating in Photoshop:


Hairstyling tutorial

But the question is, are those videos reliable learning mediums when compared to traditional, more “formal” mediums such as paid tutorial websites and courses?

In general, the quality and characteristics of a medium gives authority and credibility to the information being transferred. For instance, people are more likely to trust and believe a piece of news that comes from a major news network versus if it came from a random tweet or Facebook post. Similarly, knowledge obtained from a formal teaching source still seems more valuable or credible than that obtained from a free sharing website such as YouTube. It is even generally accepted that traditional learning in a physical classrooms still exceeds compared to every other form of learning, and is given the most preference. However, many people today, especially the younger generation, are making the most out of new media learning.

YouTube gives the user the ability to fast-forward, pause, and rewind to certain parts of a video a user needs to view, without having to watch entire clips that might contain redundant, unnecessary information. This gives the user power to see only what they need, and helps save time. It also gives users the ability to repeat clips as many times as desired, something that is not possible to do in many formal learning situations. This versatility has given power and desirability to YouTube as a learning source.

Here is an interesting article named “The Teacher’s Guide To Using YouTube In The Classroom”. It gives teachers tips and advice on how to maximize the use of YouTube features – such as creating playlists, archiving, and others – to enhance the learning experience for children. It also talks about how a teacher can create review sessions, quizzes, and extra lessons all in the form of YouTube videos which children can benefit from.