ELearning on YouTube by Kimberly Bowen

Turn YouTube into your interactive classroom, complete with message feeds.

These days, you can find a plethora of movies on YouTube ranging from clips of television shows to your brother-in-law’s home video of snowboarding over a vehicle. While a lot of the videos on YouTube are silly, there are also many that are motivational, promotional or instructional. More and more, teachers are using YouTube in their classrooms to show examples of things they are teaching.

Teachers are also starting to use YouTube as a vehicle to teach from. The types of skills vary from vocational to academic: pruning roses to solving second order linear differential equations. No matter what type of learning you are interested in, some basic standards apply for all eLearning on YouTube.

Qualities of a Good YouTube Educational Video

The main indicator as to whether the course is beneficial is the content of the video. Some things that decrease the value of a video are the visual and audio quality. For example, if someone’s hand is covering the screen while they are writing down information, camera shots are blurry or shaky, teachers mumble or do not speak clearly and background noise all diminish the quality.

The formatting of the class also has a lot to do with whether or not the video will be successful. These relatively small segments allow students to absorb concepts a piece at a time. Similar to traditional classes, an endless array of PowerPoint slides is far less effective than a teacher explaining the information.

Each video has room below it for a message feed. This message feed can connect students with the instructor, and vice versa. These messages allow students and teachers to discuss the content of the video clip, ask questions and clarify concepts.

Benefits of YouTube Learning

The learning process is personal. Even in a traditional classroom setting, students learn at different paces. Some need to hear the material repeatedly while others can hear it once and move on. Classroom instruction on the internet can make allowances for these differences. Students can watch the movies as frequently as they need to master the concept.

Another reason YouTube classes are good is because it is not in real time, meaning that the student does not have to watch the video at a set time. It is available on the internet whenever he or she is ready to view it. If they were real time hours, the student would have to be present, either in front of the screen or in the classroom in order to view it. Plus, the instruction is available wherever you can access the internet.

YouTube classes are also beneficial because they can be more interactive than traditional book learning. Students who need someone to sit with them and work through a problem but are also unable to do this because of distance restrictions can receive a similar effect by watching a video. They can view the step-by-step process of how a task is completed, as many times as they need.
The Downsides to YouTube Instruction

ELearning via YouTube becomes less effective when the message is not effectively conveyed from the instructor to the student. If the student cannot see the necessary visual information or hear what the teacher is saying, the video becomes useless and the student frustrated.

Just as in any other learning format, the student needs to feel the teacher’s respect. Attitudes of superiority are just as visible over a computer screen as in person. Mutual feelings of respect are important for the learning process to be successful.

Similar to all eLearning experiences, technology sometimes cannot make up for the lack of the teacher being in the same location. Even with a visual experience and the option of communicating via message feed, some students may not be able to work through their questions. In such cases, the student may need to be face-to-face with the teacher.

YouTube Classes and Online Schools

While most YouTube instructional videos are not delivered through accredited schools, some accredited schools have begun designing classes that meet in person occasionally but do most of their work via YouTube. In the future, more schools may start using YouTube to conduct classes. NorthOrion.com can help you find classes that you can take online or in a traditional classroom setting so you can get the learning experience that’s right for you.


Kim BowenKimberly Bowen is a staff writer for NorthOrion.com. She has written for several publications, including TopTenReviews.com, LDSjobs.org, and the Ensign and Liahona’s “News around the Church.” She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in Mass Communication, with an emphasis in journalism. She enjoys helping people make well-informed decisions about their education and careers.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. You Tube is such a natural fit as a learning platform, I am happy to see so much educational content being added daily. Hopefully with these guidelines the content will be ever improving!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *