Tech for Teach

Tuesday is for Tools: YouTube

In a survey this week of my first-year students, 47 out of 128 mentioned YouTube as their favorite activity on the Internet. Users around the world upload one hour of video content to YouTube every minute. As Digital Literacy expands from text to infographics and to video, learning how to author video content is becoming an essential way to get your voice heard. Top authors on YouTube have audiences in the millions, more than any television program might aspire to. They also make millions of dollars.

Gutenberg changed society in the 15th century with the printing press, rated as the top innovation since the wheel by Atlantic experts. YouTube is on course to repeat that revolution by popularizing video content and creation.

YouTubeMenuMaking a YouTube video has become easier over the years, while increasing the options for publishing at the same time. The main YouTube page, once you have signed in, greets you with a panel for customization and curation. You can collect Subscriptions, similar to podcasts, of content created by other authors. I have 49 subscriptions, one of which, for example, is the Fine Brothers, with their excellent “React” series interviewing people about their opinions (Children React, Seniors React, YouTubers React). You can collect individual videos and add them to folders, or Playlists to organize them. I have a playlist for each class I teach. You can share these lists with students or colleagues.

But I am here today to talk about Participation and Collaboration, two of the most important skills for Digital Literacy as outlined by Howard Rheingold in his book Net Smart (MIT Press). Authoring tools are essential for collecting, organizing and publishing online content, in this case video. YouTube has stepped up here and made their video editor much more robust in the last year. So much so, I am moving my content from my Vimeo account ($70/year personal) and my WeVideo ($250/year class) account, both paid tools, to YouTube. YouTube puts video uploading, editing and publishing into one seamless package. They even include analytics, so you can measure how effective (popular) your video is once published.


Creating your own channel on YouTube is easy. Then upload a video. You can touch up the video with a few clicks to make it look better and trim the unwanted parts. You can stabilize the shaky images, and autofix the color and brightness. You can flip it and filter it, speed it up and add timelapse. But if you want more control, go to the enhanced editor, where you can make frame to frame changes. You can combine any video on YouTube with any other video to mash up content, or make a supercut.


Learning to use a video editor is like learning to use a pencil and paper, only with more options. As a teacher, you owe it to your students to demonstrate the possibilities of communication through this channel. The added benefit is that you will have a much wider audience than your text.

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