YouTube an Effective Tool in Education


Social media is everywhere, and readily available to anyone that has access to the internet.  Social media is defined as forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). The online communities are used to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos) (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Not a lot of knowledge is needed to use or access social media. Due to social medias prevalence and accessibility it’s had an impact on higher education.

Social media can be used as an effective tool for instructors (Clark, Fine, & Scheuer, 2017).

Research has found that students feel more goal oriented when social media is implemented in class (Cooke, 2017). YouTube is a popular form of social media, it’s the third most visited website in the world, behind Facebook and Google (Moghavvemi, Sulaiman, Jaafar,  & Kasem, 2018). Moghavvemi, Sulaiman, Jaafar, & Kasem, (2018) recommended that instructors integrate YouTube into their respective courses to benefit from its inherent advantages in the context of learning/teaching.

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It’s beneficial for instructors, to understand the impact that social media has on higher education. If instructors understand the benefits that come with utilizing social media, then instructors will be more likely to use social media when instructing a class.

Based on a qualitative study it was found that respondents mentioned that YouTube (a form of social media) helps them solve academic problems and increases their knowledge (Moghavvemi, Sulaiman, Jaafar, & Kasem, 2018). YouTube can be used in effective ways for educational purposes.

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This literature review will examine, effective ways instructors can use YouTube in the classroom.


An electronic search was administered using the InfoKat family of databases at the University of Kentucky. The initial search resulted in 51,867 results. A secondary strategy was put into place to narrow the results. YouTube paired with words; instructor, classroom, higher education, teaching, and learning. The second strategy narrowed down the results to 229 including journals, articles from peer reviewed, and books. After careful review 23 articles, one book, and one dissertation was chosen. History. Before an instructor can understand the benefits of YouTube the instructor and learners need to understand how YouTube works.

YouTube is a distribution channel and has over one million visitors a month (Burgess & Green, 2013). When an educational video is uploaded by a user, it is immediately transcoded into a set of optimized video streams (Burgess & Green, 2013).  Burgess & Green (2013) state the individual video streams range in resolution and video quality from 240p all the way up to 2160p, and even 4k. Once the video is uploaded it can be seen from anyone that has access to YouTube unless, you the user, have certain privacy’s activated (Lange, 2007).

YouTube participants can broaden or limit physical access to their videos. YouTube users can create larger or smaller media circuits by using technical features such as limited “friends‐only” viewing or strategic tagging (Lange, 2007). Locating a video is made easy with certain YouTube features. Viewers may locate videos using keywords or “tags” that video makers designate for their videos or write into the video’s title or description (Lange, 2007). Education. YouTube is divided into sections (Gilroy, 2010).  YouTubeEDU is a section of YouTube that is devoted to academic content.

The free site (a non-paid web hosting service)  was sparked by students and employees who wanted to find a way to collect all the educational content already being uploaded to YouTube. The new section of YouTube organizes the courses and programs in one place, making it convenient for someone to find a certain topic or subject their studying. The site (YouTubeEDU) features lectures from numerous universities. Gilroy (2010)  says, social networks such as YouTube being used as educational tools in the academic landscape is risin .

Teaching. Lichter (2012) performed a case study where students in general chemistry at the University of Florida were challenged to create and upload a video to YouTube that could be used to learn solubility rules (ions combine to form insoluble precipitates in dilute aqueous solutions). Later, an assessment of the assignment was done, and it was found that the results suggested the assignment (solubility rules) promoted interest in chemistry among the students involved in the activity and improved student learning (Lichter, 2012).

Chintalapati, Daruri, & V. S. K (2017) examined the use of YouTube as a learning resource. Chintalapati, Daruri, & V. S. K (2017) research concluded that YouTube has become a valuable learning resource and can be used as an alternative to written text. YouTube allows the learner freedom to determine their learning speed and allows instructors some leeway for time constraints (Chintalapati, & Daruri, V. S. K., 2017).

Upload. Drew (2018) suggested that before uploading YouTube videos as cognitive tools and learning purposes an instructor should judge the quality of videos the same way they judge real-life teachers. Drew (2018) believes that instructors should consider whether videos have upbeat precentors, engaging graphics, and focus on the pedagogical level to create student learning. To assess the pedagogical quality of educational videos Drew (2018) implies that four questions should be considered:

  1. Does the video ask open-ended questions or simply narrate facts to students?
  2. Does the video ask students to apply critique knowledge or simply remember and understand?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to compare ideas presented?
  4. Are examples provided that enable students to apply the knowledge presented to  their own real-life contexts?

Considering the (above) questions before uploading a video ensures that as an instructor yourvideos will not only be beneficial to the learner but will be valuable for future learners (Drew, 2018). YouTube videos that are uploaded with pedagogical practices in mind enable students to pause, rewind, and replay the content until they finally understand the set procedure for completing a task (Drew, 2018).

Archive. Traditionally there was no archive established to record and preserve performances that would be widely available to anyone and everyone around the world. YouTube makes for a great archive. Thompson (2010) states YouTube advertises itself as empowering people to become the broadcasters of tomorrow. Many professors turn their classrooms into rehearsal spaces where students spend a large amount of time on their feet (Thompson, 2010). Thompson (2010) found that students who uploaded Shakespearean videos to YouTube were able to reveal a great deal about contemporary understandings and uses of Shakespeare.

Some of the uploads to YouTube regarding Shakespeare wasn’t the correct interpretation (Thompson, 2010). Thompson (2010) felt that the incorrect interpretation uploaded to YouTube could be incorporated in the classroom as a ‘ what not to do ‘. Thompson (2010) believes YouTube gives instructors opportunities to demonstrate different interpretations from different platforms of life which is an advantage that instructors historically didn’t have.Presence. Steinke & Zimmerman (2015) found that there are several reasons for instructors to incorporate YouTube in the classroom.

YouTube is mobile friendly, high quality streaming, automatic closed captioning (editable), different privacy settings available and easy to manage several channels under one account (Steinke & Zimmerman, 2015). YouTube can be a benefit for courses and instructors can have a strong presence.  Instructors can upload announcements and module overviews to course channels.

Lab demonstrations and lectures can be  uploaded to YouTube and instructors can manage more than one course under their channels.Affordances. Web- based digital video tools such as YouTube enables learners to access video sources in beneficial ways. Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse  (2012) propose that the mental models of video technology affordances that teachers construct or activate are in important factor in their cognition for planning the use of video in class. Lesson planning also plays an important role when integrating technology into the classroom (Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse, 2012).

Mental models are representations of situations and interrelations that people construct based on their prior knowledge and beliefs (Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse, 2012). When integrating YouTube into the classroom it becomes clear that it is not sufficient for a teacher to only remember the different technological functions of the software. Rather, teachers would need to create a mental mode of the functions of YouTube in relation to the way these functions impact the presentation of specific matter and learning (Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse, 2012). Next based on this knowledge, teachers need to relate the affordances to their teaching goals during their lesson planning for the videos to be beneficial (Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse, 2012).

Aide. YouTube can be a great aide in the classroom. University faculty are using YouTube sites to disperse information. In the classroom, YouTube is becoming an educational tool to increase learning in innovative ways (Bloom, 2009). Examples of innovation include locating and airing historical video in African American studies classes (White, 2009) posting videos of students performing scientific test or clinical trials to be shared with other students (Park, 2009) Instructors using old comedy clip routines to point out flaws in logical mathematical thinking has become routine (Niess & Walker, 2009).

YouTube can be used as a tool to inform and display and as a forum for critical analysis and commentary (Jones & Cuthrell, 2011).Interaction. Due to the features that YouTube has a user or viewer can choose who views or comments on their video. Instructors can post a video for class and allow only the students to access the video based on their discretion. Haridakis & Hanson  (2009) found that there is a distinctly social aspect to YouTube. The social aspect that is developed within the online community is beneficial in the classroom. Close attention to social aspects of learning is critical to creating inquiry-oriented classroom environments in which students learn with understanding (Becker, 2012)

Summarizing the Literature

Based on the findings from the literature YouTube can be an effective tool in the classroom if utilized correctly. YouTube was found to be an effective archive tool, to improve student learning, and increase class engagement. The social aspect within the classroom was found within the online community YouTube. In conclusion YouTube would be beneficial to the instructor and to the learner.


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YouTube an Effective Tool in Education. (2021, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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