I went to a conference a year ago or so and remember someone posed a question about the value of youtube to education. They had asked how much do we learn ourselves from watching youtube videos. A few years earlier than that I might not have had the same response, but I have found the power of youtube in my own life. I have included a few examples of the things that I have learned from watching youtube videos. While many of these are about home repair, the list would be immense if I included all of the videos I have watched to learn something new. These would include TED Talks, Khan Academy, and a multitude of science videos, and others including many created by students making videos on their own time centered on their own interests.
I learn a lot from watching these videos. I am a visual learning who understands things better by seeing them done. I know many of our students utilize youtube to learn the things they are passionate about, sometimes it is how to do a new trick on their skateboard, bike, with a fidget spinner, or to pass a level of a video game. Others turn to it for opportunities to learn about books, movies, celebrities, they are interested. The list of interests and opportunity for viewing and more importantly creating content are endless.
Youtube is one potential way to tap into student learning. We can leverage it as a place to house content for students, but it can also be a great example to inspire students to create their own content. Students can demonstrate their learning through the creation of videos, tutorials, and other projects that demonstrate their mastery.
Beyond Youtube, we have the opportunity to move education forward through more individualization of their learning. If we offer students choice in how they will present their mastery of learning, we will be more likely to engage their interests and allow them to shine. If we provide them more choices in the topics they will study, the more likely we will see our more reluctant learners engage in the activity. This could be as simple as allowing students opportunity to choose which book or story they will read.
Another example of this is our High School Social Studies teachers are approaching history in the 11th grade through various perspectives. Students are able to choose which path of study they want to embark upon. They can choose from War and Conflict, Culture and Religious studies, to several other perspectives that they will explore historical events from. This allows them choice in the way they will explore events of our past.
The idea of individualized education takes planning and foresight and effort, yet it is a path we must begin the journey forward. Our students have access to information on a scale we have never seen before. They have opportunities to learn anywhere anytime. This should be embraced as a positive in light of the potential to change the structure of education.