YouTubeEDU Guru Questions the Role of Videos in the Classroom

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YouTubeEDU Guru Questions the Role of Videos in the Classroom

Annual summit brings together educators, YouTube execs, and channel creators

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     Oct 15, 2013

YouTubeEDU Guru Questions the Role of Videos in the Classroom

YouTubeEDU stars do a lot to grow their audience. But get kids to give up books?

Never, says Paul Andersen, a high school science teacher and host of the popular Bozeman Science channel on YouTubeEDU.

Andersen, whose instructional science channel currently boasts over 114,000 subscribers, finds himself in a unique position as being both an educator and EDU star, and shared with EdSurge his concerns as a teacher about the replacement of reading with YouTube videos. “The kids will say, ‘I love watching video--it’s easier than reading textbooks,” Andersen said. “But in my opinion, the greatest evidence of learning is reading.”

Andersen believes that while YouTubeEDU offers great opportunity for fostering blended learning, even as eduvideos grow in popularity, they aren't "replacing" texts. Teaching predominantly with video--or with text--is a “false choice,” he declared.

Will YouTube education videos replace the role of reading in schools? This past week at YouTubeEDU’s annual summit, educators and YouTubeEDU channel creators alike discussed the realities of this issue -- with Andersen citing the word “hypocrisy” in response to the question.

And he isn’t the only one who feels this way. “It is crazy to suggest that video should or could replace reading in the classroom,” said attendee Nicholas Provenzano, a teacher and “The Nerdy Teacher” blogger. Though Provenzano did cite video’s effectiveness at aiding students in visualizing concepts, he conceded that “video is just another tool for teachers to use to effectively support instruction.”

YouTube first launched its education-focused hub in 2009, and has since set its sights on K-12 after releasing YouTube for Schools in 2012. So on October 10 and 11, YouTube hosted its second annual “EDU Summit” to bring together YouTube execs, financial partners, and YouTubeEDU “celebrities” to discuss continued efforts to support the education sector through video.

During the Summit, familiar “EDU guru” faces from superstar channels Steve Spangler, VSauce, and SoulPancake met with teachers, YouTube VPs, and reps from MOOC providers and charter systems to best identify the role of YouTubeEDU in the Kindergarten through college classroom. YouTube VPs Shishir Mehrotra and Robert Kyncl provided commentary on the role of YouTube in the education sector, to which audience members asked questions and generated discussion.

So what does YouTubeEDU have to offer K-12 classroom, then? Andersen believes the offerings are twofold. First, “video is the first step” towards supporting more blended learning in the classrooms. But perhaps more importantly, YouTubeEDU has the potential to bring more interactivity to the world of educational video resources. Much like Dora the Explorer has Piaget-like pauses, calling kids to action, Andersen noted, YouTubeEDU videos could benefit from more interactivity.

Change begins with the man in the mirror, of course: Andersen says he hopes to blend what happens in the video with real-world experiences for his viewers. All he needs are the tools to help make that happen.

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