Spring break is just around the corner, and as you wrap up this unit and look to the next, perhaps you’re looking for that quick hook to bring your students back into focus when they return. A search on YouTube is a great way to begin, but wouldn’t it be nice if someone had already done the work for you? This week’s tip highlights a few services that do just that – separating the wheat from the chaff and saving you time.
In the world of the web, there are repositories of content, like YouTube, and then there are “curated” content collections, where individuals sift through the vast quantities of material for nuggets that might actually fit a curricular need. We’ll look at 4 resources today:
- two collections that focus on K-12 students
- a number of resources where prominent universities are hosting lectures and, in some cases, entire courses (handouts included)
- a blog that highlights recent YouTube videos of cultural importance
- one easy way to create your own “library” of web content
A great browsable collection of kid-friendly content can be found at Watchknow.com. This collection, gathered and rated by a group of over 400 volunteer educators, now includes more than 24,000 videos in over 3,000 categories. Drawing from video sources all over the web (not just YouTube), the site is an impressive resource for k-12 teachers. For more info, check out a recent ZDnet article or just visit the site yourself. (Thanks to Laura Glenn for passing this my way!)
And remember that Discovery Education has done the work for you, especially in terms of connecting video content to the Grade Level Expectations of many subjects. If you haven’t stopped by DE in a while, log in and check out their curriculum search.
Beyond some great hooks, sometimes we’re looking for more substance. Maybe a student needs a different voice to explain a concept or process, or we’re looking to provide curriculum content we’ve covered to students who have been absent. A rising movement on the web is that of “open courseware”, where prominent universities and independent schools are posting the lectures and materials of their professors online. The two largest collections are available through iTunes and YouTube itself:
- iTunes U – accessible through iTunes, this is by far the largest collection, with the broadest range of subject areas and topics. iTunes is currently promoting the ability to package pdfs along with video and audio.
- YouTube EDU – aggregation of any university or college posting its content through YouTube. For more usable subject-area indexes, check out
- Academic Earth (multiple universities, but listed by subject),
- MIT OpenCourseware (hundreds of MIT courses online, with lectures, syllabi, and even handouts), and
- Khan Academy (an amazing collection of subject-area explanations, especially strong in the sciences and maths – thanks to Joel Anderson for the link).
Culture on YouTube
While the resources above are updated on a regular basis, one of the neat parts about the web is how seemingly unrelated bits can actually create content-related connections quickly and easily. So, if you’re the type of person who enjoys connecting your discipline to others, you might appreciate Open Culture, a blog that keeps a pulse on what’s happening in our world and grabs relevant video. Recent posts include Bobby McFerrin demonstrating the neuroscience of a “built-in” pentatonic scale and an illustrated version of Mark Twain’s writing process. Check out their “Intelligent YouTube Channels” list for even more curated content.
The Best Collection – the One You Create
Finally, all these resources won’t be nearly as good as the ones you and your colleagues create. Not so long ago, Julie Barnes, Spanish teacher at South High, began collecting examples of authentic language on the web. She moved her collection onto a Google Doc and shared it with her colleagues. Currently at over 25 annotated resources, the document is a great example of how video curation can be tailored to the needs of your students.
So, where you do you get your video resources? Have some recommendations not listed here? Please let us know in the comments!