Michael Strong, an education entrepreneur and founder of The Academy of Thought and Industry, believes that YouTube has a major impact on the way students learn, but perhaps not in the way that traditional educators would like. Of course, this is only a problem if traditional education is in fact the best way for people to learn.
Strong says students “know it’s an incredible resource for learning,” and that “Teens routinely use YouTube to learn, though of course they are more likely to use it to learn about things they care about than school curricula.” Things like souping up your car or even making your own YouTube channel. “But very few teens actually want to learn school stuff on their own, though they will use YouTube content if helpful for school.”
Strong believes that only around 10-20 percent of students are interested in learning traditional school curricula on YouTube outside of just trying to improve their grades. That is, only about 10-20 percent would seek out math, reading, and writing on their own. Most want to learn what they want to learn, and YouTube has plenty of channels to help do this.
For those interested in learning things like chemistry or the normal distribution in math, Strong points out that there is the Crash Course channel. There you can learn about the History of Media Literacy, Sociology and the Scientific Method, Boolean Logic and Logic Gates, and even study skills, all in around 10 minutes per course. Kids and teachers both are big fans of this site.
The School of Life is a YouTube channel that deals with psychological issues such as sex, over-achievement, and how the modern world makes us mentally ill to videos on How to Start a Business and the History of Ideas—which includes videos on manners, rituals, and even French and English Gardens. You will get videos discussing the ideas of philosophers and also videos discussing how to get married.
Strong points out that he’s known students to use YouTube videos to learn concrete skills, such as stop-motion animation, and to access sex education. Again, these are things the students are interested in learning. This is where YouTube seems to shine when it comes to educating people. Whatever you want to learn, however you want to learn it, it’s likely you’re going to find it on YouTube. Thus, it’s a fantastic educational resource.
Yes, there are channels which are perfect for traditional curricula, but those channels, if we’re to be honest, are found mostly by teachers in traditional school settings. Students engaged in self-learning look for things which interest them. This shouldn’t be all that surprising—but the fact is, when students learn that in order to do many of the things which interest them they will have to also learn the “traditional” stuff, it’s likely those videos will be viewed as well.