Sarah and I decided to have a conversation about the tech tool, YouTube, for this week’s blog posting. I found it to be quite interesting to be in a parents role (even though I am not a parent). She stated evidence of YouTube being advantageous within the classroom for our students and I was the dearly concerned parent.
My position as the: Parent
Adapted from Giphy.com
Parent (Manuela): “I am concerned with my child using YouTube in class. All my child ever talks about is using different modes of technology during class time, but most commonly talks about YouTube. I am wondering…is my child even learning from this YouTube he always talks about? Where/when does all the important learning take place?
Teacher (Sarah): I definitely hear you, it can sometimes be confusing only hearing from Jonny about the site (YouTube) and not hearing about the learning that Jonny is doing on YouTube. Kids do that so often don’t they?
‘What did you do at school today?’ – ‘Played games and watched videos.’ – ‘What games and videos?’ – ‘I dunno.’
Most recently, we have been using YouTube often to listen to experts to gain more information for our inquiry projects and also for our genius hour work in times of self-directed learning. Some of our most frequented YouTube videos and channels are: Khan Academy, Smithsonian Education, CrashCourse, Discovery Channel (virtual reality videos), PBS Math Club, Common Sense Media, and #education
I have found that many students in our class, including Jonny, have benefited from learning using videos to supplement the other ways that I am teaching. Since basically all of the students watch YouTube videos outside of school, they are familiar with the site and get excited when videos are shown because it almost gives them a brain break and helps them to learn from different perspectives while also being engaged with the use of music and relevant images based on the material in the video. About 8 times out of 10, we are using YouTube as a learning tool, watching videos that are directly related to what we are learning. The other 1/5th of the time, we are using YouTube videos as movement breaks or watching something funny, both again serving as brain breaks for the students. Some of the movement breaks that we have been doing are dance videos to popular songs and funny sing-a-longs and our funny videos often consist of totally random things like this screaming chicken video which is a class favorite.
I have designated a box for students to submit their requests for titles of YouTube videos that they would like to have as brain breaks. This allows the videos to always be of student interest, but also allows me to screen them before I show them in class to ensure that they are safe and appropriate.
Parent (Manuela): “How can I ensure that my child is searching up things that are safe? I have heard that the content on YouTube is rather violent, inappropriate and very unsafe. What if they look up something or something randomly pops up and is something sexual? This concerns me as not every student is supervised all at the same time…”
Teacher (Sarah): I screen all of the videos that I show through a filter to remove ads, commercials, comments, and suggested videos through View Pure and Safe You Tube. If I am assigning videos for students to watch if they finish a task/assignment early or if I am utilizing a “flipped” classroom model (assigning videos to students to watch and then discussing them together in class afterwards), I put them in a cue on a playlist so that only the videos that I want them to watch show up using our classroom YouTube account through that the students access through our classroom blog. Flipped instruction also provides my students with the ability to learn and rewind as needed when learning from a video, taking it at their own pace. It also makes for more engaging homework than just writing or reading. Our class also uses Seesaw which allows me to send the links to YouTube videos to individual students or groups of students to click and view on their device. The interactive presentation tool Nearpod also lets me embed YouTube videos so that students can pause to watch a clip by themselves or with partners. At the beginning of the school year you may also remember me sending information about how we would be utilizing technology in all aspects of our classroom and as a result, our class would be doing “digital citizenship training”. We have been actually doing some of our digital citizenship training through a YouTube generated program, focusing on many issues that come up with using YouTube and other digital resources – here is a snapshot of it:
This has not only happened transactionally at the beginning of the year, but has rather gone on immersively in our class as we are often watching videos and having discussions about how we can have a healthy relationship with technology and engage in a way that is safe and respectful for ourselves and for others. I also use resources from Common Sense Media to teach digital citizenship like this one:
We also, as a class, turn the safety mode on together and ensure that it is on each time we are watching. The reason that I don’t do this in secret for the students and rather do it with them, is to show them that it is their responsibility to keep themselves safe. There is basically unlimited access for children and teens to technology and YouTube so I try to instill these beliefs and knowledge with my students so that instead of building a fence around them, I (we) can give them the knowledge to make smart decisions no matter who is around or where they are. This is a great video resource if you are looking to practice some of these strategies at home with Jonny also!
Parent (Manuela): “I am afraid that my child will get dangerously addicted to YouTube while at school and come home and all they will want to do is go on YouTube and become uninterested in the other things he likes doing.”
Teacher (Sarah): Definitely, I hear you here. It is important to me that I model a healthy relationship with technology at school with the students by dispersing videos throughout the day and not watching videos continuously back to back. As I had said earlier, the videos I choose for learning are only those that provide supplemental quality material to what we are already learning through other means such as reading books, outdoor explorations, observations, peer and class conversations, guest speakers, field trips etc. These videos don’t exist in isolation but rather compliment everything else that we are doing in our class to create a holistic learning environment. I have also spoken with the students about how they have felt after watching a lot of TV, many videos, or played online games for consecutive hours. We talk about how our brain and body gives us messages as to when it’s time to take a technology break and do other things like play with friends or go for a walk. I give the students freedom and voice to say at any time that they are needing a tech break and depending on the circumstances we will either pause and transition into a conversation/circle talk or will play outside for a while, or even take a walk around the school while discussing. Almost all of the time, we are watching, listening, and playing together as a class using YouTube which allows us to talk together about what we hear and see. Common Sense Media also provides more information in this short video about how to engage in technology with your kids at home while preventing an addictive mentality – many of these same techniques are listed above (I use them in the classroom too!)
Parent (Manuela): “I am also concerned about my child’s health. Being in front of a screen can be straining to the eye-sight of an individual, I am worried that if my child gets addicted to YouTube and other technology tools being introduced in the classroom, that his eye-sight will gradually deteriorate…”
Teacher (Sarah): Again, a big part of this is balance. As I said before, I provide the students the opportunity to advocate for their own bodies and health by requesting a break, but we rarely ever watch videos back to back in class. It is important to me that the amount of time that the students are in front of a screen doesn’t go above the time that they are engaging with peers, real objects, or experiencing and learning from the environment. “Computer vision syndrome” is said to only really occur if children are in front of screens for hours in a row. Similarly suggested by the website All About Vision we encourage mixed tasks throughout the day, and we use the application software f.lux on our school’s tablets and computers to prevent the strain from a blue light screen.
Parent (Manuela): “I find that YouTube distracts my child from doing what he is supposed to be doing at home, I can’t even imagine how much of a major distraction it is to students during lesson instruction, sidetracked from an assignment, hinder my child’s learning, etc.”
Teacher (Sarah): Our use of YouTube is focused and is directly relevant to learning. As mentioned above, students benefit greatly from brain breaks: “Brain breaks are planned learning activity shifts that mobilize different networks of the brain. These shifts allow those regions that are blocked by stress or high-intensity work to revitalize. Brain breaks, by switching activity to different brain networks, allow the resting pathways to restore their calm focus and foster optimal mood, attention, and memory.” As said in this article, “some students are audio or visual learners, educational videos on YouTube was a great benefit, as they allowed students to take advantages of animations and sounds as they learned.” Using videos is also really fun, and helps the students to be more interested in the topic instead of just listening to my boring voice the whole time 😉
Parent (Manuela): “Using any kind of social media in the classroom takes away from human interaction and how to learn how to have a conversation with people face-to-face.”
Teacher (Sarah): I definitely understand this concern. In our class, I try to merge student’s online lives with their offline lives, using social media as a way for them to express who they are and to have them act in the same way no matter online or offline. It is important for me to teach my students that the online space is no different than the offline as in, we need to be respectful to others and think before they post: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? I have this poster displayed in our classroom to remind students of this.
It’s also important to me that we merge technology into our class in a fluid way, but that we are still prioritizing speaking to each other in meaningful ways. We often have classroom circle discussions but we may follow such a talk with a blog post or YouTube video response to utilizing technology resources in our learning.
Parent (Manuela): “I understand that YouTube is a site that showcases videos or a various sort. These videos may be uncensored. If YouTube is allowed in my child’s classroom, this could increase cyberbullying where students may write hurtful messages targeting other students, making fun, editing the original, it is viral, and the list goes on.”
Teacher (Sarah): With our digital citizenship training throughout the year, we talk quite a bit about cyberbullying. As said above, it is important that the students know that what they comment on a YouTube video should be something that they would be comfortable saying to someone’s face. We also talk directly about what to do when they feel that they are being cyberbullied, or even if they feel tempted to be a cyberbully themselves. I want our classroom to be an outlet for the students to be able to understand why it’s hurtful to be a cyber bully but also somewhere that they can go to seek help if they are a victim of this.
Parent (Manuela): “If my child is to post something on YouTube how will I know? Is it safe? Doesn’t it automatically go viral once it is posted and people from around the world can view my child’s video??”
Teacher (Sarah): Any videos that students post will always be done under the “private” or “unlisted” settings for sharing – private meaning that only they can view it or show it from their account, and unlisted meaning that only someone that is directly sent the link can view it. The videos that student’s post are posted on our classroom’s account and you can view any videos that we post on our classroom blog. Producing videos is a fanastic way for student’s to showcase what they are learning and become more competenet in their digital skills. This article talks of some of the benefits: “Facilitating thinking and problem solving: Allam (2006) observes that the creative challenge of using moving images and sound to communicate a topic indeed engaging and insightful, but adds that it also enables students to acquire a range of transferable skills in addition to filmmaking itself. These include research skills, collaborative working, problem-solving, technology, and organizational skills.” as well as this article, “students themselves can create original content and share their own expertise with viewers. This is a great way for students to develop an online presence and have a creative way to show what they know.” We have also been using digital creation tools that screencast like Explain Everything and Screencastify to encourage the students to engage using YouTube without showing their face in the video.
Basically, the future is technology.
Adapted from Giphy.com
Give Sarah a look/see to her blog post as a teacher, on the Pros of how using YouTube in the classroom is beneficial!