How to use YouTube effectively in eLearning

video and elearning

There are lots of strategies for creating an effective elearning campaign and no doubt you will have adopted and tried many of them. But have you considered the use of video in your stratgy? Video is being consumed on a massive scale thanks to the mobile revolution and and as such, the use of a social network such as YouTube can really help your learners to engage.

What is YouTube?

Video files can be huge – often too large to send out by email. YouTube is a website dedicated to sharing videos. On YouTube, you can share a video simply by specifying a link (URL) to the relevant Web page. The service was created in February 2005, and has been owned by Google since late 2006.

Since then, YouTube has become an archive for storing favourite clips, songs and jokes, and a marketing tool for companies looking to promote their products. Increasingly, film and television companies use the service to let fans see high-quality trailers, or repeats of recently aired shows.

Benefits & Features

Initially, you create an account to share videos up to 15 minutes long with your family and friends. You have to verify your account, in order to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.

You can search the YouTube archive for your favourite video clips, watch a feature-length film on your computer, and comment on or rate the movies you’ve watched.

Crucially, you can use YouTube’s edit facility, to create a movie with music and other features. There are captioning and subtitle facilities, and you can take advantage of its 3D and high-definition capabilities.

Making & Using Videos

For eLearning purposes, videos can provoke discussions, invite learners to analyse and think., and be re-watched over and over. They can include websites, pictures, maps, and captions.

Videos should contain small chunks of information, which can be easily absorbed. They should emphasise all your key points, but be short, thought provoking, and well-focused to capture learners’ attention and keep them engaged.

You can use video at the beginning, middle or end of your course, for dramatic effect. You can make a powerful introduction, to set out the eLearning objectives. Within the course, you can incorporate video as an exercise, or to demonstrate a point or process. Video can also make for a memorable closure, grabbing your audience’s attention, and summarising your key points.

Videos are particularly effective when they demonstrate “how-to” or “how-not-to” do something. Wherever possible, videos should be interactive, to keep learners engaged. If interactivity isn’t an option, make sure you follow up with a brief summary of the main points, so your audience can retain all the necessary information.

Videos should be well produced, with good quality sound, images, and acting. If your budget permits, try to use professional actors, instead of employees. Views from different camera angles, evocative music, good lighting, and a tight scenario will help your actors emphasise the points you want to get across.

For sharing, videos should be compressed, so users can easily download them, even with a slow Internet connection. Make sure the videos are downloadable from multiple locations, like your organisation’s intranet, Facebook group pages, and YouTube.

YouTube, for eLearning

The power of YouTube lies in effectively integrating it into your eLearning strategy. To get the most from the service:

1. Develop playlists that explore a specific topic

Create a playlist for each subject of your course, so learners can quickly access videos to help them expand their knowledge or comprehension about a topic. For asynchronous learning, you can create playlists to accompany guides and courses, without having to provide individual links for each video.

2. Create webinars to use as reference tools

These are videos that learners can access even after the eLearning course has ended, to refresh their memories about a particular topic, or to review the content before an exam.

3. Have learners make their own YouTube videos

Offer a wide range of resources (such as free image editing and audio tools) that they can use to create a video to recap information they’ve learned, or to focus on a specific topic. This will build on their creative and design skills, and boost knowledge retention.

4. Use videos to visually illustrate complex concepts

You can create a video that walks learners through a process, or find an existing YouTube clip that offers an in-depth look at how to perform a task.

5. Use privacy settings to share videos with certain groups

YouTube’s privacy settings can be set to “public”, to allow all learners access to a video. They can be set to “private” (viewers will need a link to access the clip), if you want to restrict the video to a selected group of learners.

6. Encourage collaboration, through group projects

Ask learners to further explore a subject by watching relevant YouTube videos, then discussing the topic online. Google Hangouts and other online chat platforms will give them opportunities to exchange ideas, and even offer feedback on the student-produced videos.

7. Add annotations and links to additional resources

You can add links within the description box of your videos, so that learners can access other resources to help them better understand concepts or ideas featured in the eLearning course.

8. Design with YouTube and Google Forms

Using these tools, you can develop webinars, recorded lectures, and presentations that explore a subject more in depth. You can even create stand-alone eLearning courses. You can use a free Google Forms quiz, to assess their knowledge.

YouTube videos can be a great tool, if used with other methods and techniques in delivering an effective eLearning course.