Is YouTube educational? Yes

YouTube have launched a new portal called YouTube EDU that rounds up educational content from Universities and other educational organisations.

The rapid pace of change in the online world was brought home to me the other day, after I had presented on the topic of Social Media for Education and said that educational content on YouTube was hard to find – by the time I got home, YouTube EDU had appeared – but does it render my doubts about findability on YouTube obsolete?

I think not, as YouTube EDU has been put together by a volunteer group of employees, as the standard YouTube Education category suffers from the same problems of any system where users assign their own keywords – spammers, marketeers and others just fill it up with items that aren’t educational, just to be seen – so these videos had to be rounded up by hand.

As for the content – the directory indicates that the vast majority is from US based Universities – and my initial hopes for Top Secret content were dashed when I noticed that the CIA Network referred to the Culinary Institute of America rather than the Central Intelligence Agency – although they can offer cocktail advice that the other CIA cannot!

The most viewed videos pages seems to indicate that while there may be full length lecture videos from over 200 courses, the shorter form videos appear to be more YouTube friendly – the TL:DR problem finding a new expression in video form.

Subject access will still be reliant on tags on individual videos – so while a search for Economics will yield hundreds of results, you’ll still miss out on videos that have not been correctly tagged and other educational material from organisations that aren’t in the YouTube EDU directory at the moment – for example the World Bank.

While YouTube EDU is a big step in the right direction, it’s not the whole story – you may find that  Academic Earth has some better features and fewer distractions – even if YouTube EDU is going to get more media coverage.

Between YouTube EDU and iTunesU (now integrated within iTunes) online audio and video can now be mobilised in standard places where mainstream users are most likely to find them, making multimedia educational resources easier to find and use than ever before.

However, what effect if any will YouTube EDU have on Universities?

  • Does this render the need for formal University approved and curated repositories obsolete?
  • Will lecturers feel more pressure to perform or entertain if they can be seen by anyone around the world?
  • How will prospective students react to seeing the University teaching process laid bare? Will it inspire them or turn them off?

Intute: Social Sciences features more educational YouTube channels.