Jan 8, 2016

YouTube for Students: Instructional Ideas

With YouTube now open for students, a treasure trove of educational opportunities present themselves.  Here are a few ideas to get help you leverage this wonderful tool for your classroom.


  • Embed into a Google Form
  • Embed into your learning management system (Classroom and CMS)
  • Create Playlists
  • Upload your own recorded lessons
  • VideoNot.es
  • Download audio for your projects
  • Use YouTube for a web-based video editor, and even replace Photostory

Embed into a Google Form

Videos have always been an option to embed into a Google Form, but the fact that they had to be from YouTube was very restrictive.  Now this barrier no longer exists, which opens up Forms to be used in all new, exciting ways.  For example, in the form below, you will see an embedded video followed by some short questions that would allow students to reflect on what they have watched.  This is great for a flipped/blended classroom environment.  These forms could be used to gather questions and thoughts to guide future instruction, or as assessments.

Embed into Google Classroom/CMS

Embedding a YouTube video into your learning management system of choice is a great way to make learning resources available to students 24/7.  With Classroom, you can now attach instructional videos from YouTube directly to your announcements, assignments or questions.  Using a Question activity you can set up a discussion around a video from within your classroom page.  With the Assignment activity you can have students watch a video, and then create a Google Doc to submit a reflection of the viewing.  Simply click on the YouTube video icon found on any of your activities and paste in the link to your video to get started.


Embedding a YouTube video into CMS can be accompanied by all of the same activities listed above for Classroom.  Videos can go into Assignments, Forums, Pages, right on your front page... pretty much anywhere!  To embed into your CMS page, take a look at this help page.

Create Playlists

If you navigate to YouTube.com, you will notice that you have the ability to sign in with your @myunit5.org Google credentials.  In fact, if you're already signed into your district Google account, you will likely be signed into YouTube already.


With your YouTube account, you are automatically given a "Channel".  this is space on YouTube specifically carved out for you.  It is where you can upload all of your videos (unlimited storage with the ability to mark them as public, private, or unlisted [private unless a link is given]) and create playlists.  Playlists are a personally curated list of YouTube videos around any category that you would like.  You can create a playlist around anything you would like...

  • Quality YouTube videos around a unit of study (i.e. great videos on digital citizenship)
  • Breaking up your own uploaded lessons into unity of study (i.e. Unit 2; Fractions)
  • Uploading student videos to an unlisted YouTube playlist and sharing the link with the class so they can view each others work
As long as you are signed into your district account, you can easily add and video that you watch on YouTube to any playlist that you have already created (or even create a new one just for it on the spot!).


Upload Recorded Lessons

Building off of the previous section on playlists, you can upload your own recorded lessons to your YouTube channel as a central storage location.  Recorded lessons could be created using the camera on your phone, tablet, or webcam, or even recorded off of your computer using a screen recording program like SMART Recorder.  Once uploaded to YouTube, your lessons can be shared via link, or embedded into your learning management system of choice!  Check out our post about Hangouts on Air for an easy method for pulling this off!


This amazing app can be connect to your Google Drive (New > More > Connect more apps... > VideoNot.es) and allows for notes to be taken while a video is watched.  The notes that are taken are timestamped, which allows the student to come back to the document, click on a note, and be taken directly to the part of the video that was playing when they wrote down the note!  In addition to having students record notes this way (a great connection to our previous idea of uploading your own recorded lessons to YouTube), you could record notes for a video and share those notes with your class.  That way they have a clickable table of contents of sorts for the video.  You can explore VideoNot.es videos here.


Download Audio for Projects

Using the Creator Studio from within YouTube, you have access to countless audio tracks through Google.


These audio tracks can be broken down by Music or Sound Effects, and then further filtered by categories (i.e. Genre, Mood, Duration, Science Fiction, etc...).  Each sound effect is completely open to download and use, and each audio track is labeled for how it can be used.  Many are open and free to use without attribution needed, and those that do require attribution are clearly marked and describe how to provide reference.


Any track can be downloaded by clicking on the down-pointed arrow at the far right of the track.  Students can use this resource as well, only if they have their own YouTube account.  The district does not provide YouTube accounts to students through our Google Apps for Education domain.

Remix YouTube Videos (or replace Photostory)

From the same Creator Studio location you can choose "Video Editor" and you will be taken to a service that allows you to add, cut, remix, and edit YouTube videos together to make your own unique product.  This can be seen as a web-based alternative to Windows Movie Maker, with the guiding principle that all of the video clips have to be uploaded to YouTube before they can be edited.  You can use this video editor to edit your own uploaded videos (tweak those lesson clips a bit before calling them final...), or to splice together clips from multiple YouTube videos to make something that best fits the needs of your students.  As an added bonus, you can upload your own images to this video editor and use it as a web-based replacement of Photostory!


The ways to incorporate YouTube are far reaching, and I do hope that you investigate how you can leverage its benefits for your classroom.  You need any ideas, help, or want to share your own successes please contact one of your building or district instructional technology coaches!

Sean Mullins | Instructional Technology Coach

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