Twenty-Three Things: Activity 11: YouTube

I’ve challenged some of my colleagues to take the 23 Things challenge to become more invested in online learning this summer. This website includes a 10-week game plan for learning some online learning and presenting methods that are useful for teachers, and that are appropriate activities for the age group we teach.  There are other 23 Things lists out there, I know, but this is the one that we’ve chosen to work with, and that I’ve decided to complete.

The previous entries in this series are here:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery
  3. Setting Up a Blog
  4. Starting with Flickr
  5. Find some Flickr Toys and Tools
  6. Blog about the role of tech in your classroom
  7. Initial experiment with RSS Readers
  8. RSS Readers continued
  9. Cloud Computing
  10. Web 2.0 Activty

Activity 11: YouTube

For this week’s entry, we’re supposed to find, and learn to embed, a video that we think is useful from YouTube.  Oh, dear.  Because a) I already know how to do this, and b) I have already made some videos on YouTube, and posted them, (some on history, and some on writing skills, and some on how-to)and c) I’ve gotten quite a bit of negative feedback on some of them because they’re wrong from the point of view of people who live there, but right from the perspective of the textbook I used to make them [and it also turns out that the recording is out of synch with what the video is doing — hence Seoul in Japan rather than Korea. Argh!] and d) increasingly I don’t watch YouTube videos to be inspired about digital things, but to learn how to do things, like bind off a knitting project.

Here’s the video that taught me how to bind off a knitting project:

I think the underlying message about YouTube is that if you’re not using it as a teacher, you should be.  You can use it to create review videos for concepts you teach often; how-to videos for specific grammatical or writing concepts you teach; and for finding alternate explanations of the material you teach for kids who don’t quite ‘get’ how you teach.

And for that, I go to Sugata Mitra:

Look — We live in a world in which we have increasing access to the vast storehouses of the world’s knowledge. You can learn tai chi or yoga from a video online for free.  To get really quality instruction requires a teacher face-to-face in the same room with you, but you can learn the basics from a piece of film.  But that places enormous pressures on local school systems — public AND private — to deliver top-notch, quality instruction all the time, at every level, from kindergarten through high school.  And to do so in a safe way, so that kids feel helped and guided and protected… yikes.

Meanwhile, here’s this vast library of video instruction that’s growing all the time, getting better all the time.  Here’s Vi Hart talking about cutting space-time and mathematics and music [or actually mostly playing different kinds of music that’s really cool]

This is future shock.

I mean, this is definitive future shock.  If you’re not doing something in your teaching which is radically different than what other teachers are doing, then why are they coming to your class? What is the point of teaching the same old thing that everyone else is teaching, if there are people who are providing amazing quality, high-level instruction way above your pay grade?

“Well, Kids need to learn the basics.”

Yes. Yes, they do. They must learn the basics.  But it’s getting easier and easier to learn the basics from someone else by watching the right videos… the right videos FOR THEM.  And that means that the purpose of our individual instruction is not to teach the basics, but to teach the basics in a new way.  Because if we don’t provide better instruction in school than a video can provide out of school… then why have schools?


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