At the beginning of the semester, a colleague asked me if I’d share my thoughts on the best place for hosting video content for teaching and learning with someone new to his team. I thought my response might be useful for others, too, so I’m sharing it here.
I put all of my teaching video content on YouTube. I manage this by making a channel for each of my units. Having separate channels has a number of benefits, some of which will become clear later in this post. But from an administrative perspective, the big advantage is I can give access to other members of the teaching team so they can upload or edit content.
There are many reasons I use YouTube to host my video content. Here are some of them.
Students can subscribe to the unit channel and have content pushed to them. Using a separate channel for each unit means students can subscribe to just that unit’s channel, and only see updates related to that unit. If they subscribe, students see new content in their subscription feed when it goes live. I’ve only become a big user of YouTube subscriptions in the last year or so, and I don’t think I really understood the convenience factor until I started religiously watching a bunch of channels. While I’m sure students will never be as excited to see my videos pop up in their feeds as I am to see some of the stuff I subscribe to, for frequent YouTube users, I can see the benefits.
Putting videos on YouTube helps me with curating resource sets using tools like Storify. I can easily pull a YouTube video into a curated content set, but I can’t pull in content that’s locked behind a firewall (i.e. any content that’s hosted on my institution’s platforms).
I can also create playlists for topics or weeks and incorporate my own videos with other videos from YouTube. Then I only have one thing to embed in the page – the playlist – rather than lots of videos. (Caveat: Make sure you point out it’s a playlist, or some students will watch the first video and assume that’s all there is.)
I can embed YouTube videos anywhere, and students can play it in context, with no pesky logins required to get the video to start playing. I can embed content captured with Echo360 in external sites, but it requires a log in to play the recording. That’s just one extra barrier to access.
Better mobile experience
YouTube videos are easy to watch on mobile devices. I’ve tried institutional platforms on my phone, and the experience just isn’t as good.
It’s also easy for students to find the content on their mobile devices because they can just search for the channel on YouTube (or better yet, they’d just see it in their subscription feed if they had subscribed). Going through Blackboard to Echo Centre and then watching the video play there is not a whole lot of fun on a mobile device.
Easy, fast export and upload
It’s easier for me to export from iMovie or Camtasia directly to YouTube or to upload a video file manually to YouTube than to deal with our institutional media platforms. Video uploads and processes much faster on YouTube than using any institutional platforms.
Students like it
It’s become pretty evident over time that students like the way I use YouTube. I’ve only ever had one objection to it (at least that I know about!) and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, like the comment below from one of my undergrads this semester (used with permission).
having YouTube videos to watch was a godsend. My usual lecture-viewing method involves downloading the video or audio from Echo360 (which, in itself, can be a nightmare due to the downloaded videos sometimes not being the ones you were expecting, poor naming conventions, misuse of new tabs, etc.) and then opening the file in VLC to watch at 1.5-2.0x speed for maximum time efficiency. With this unit, all I had to do was head to YouTube and speed videos up in its video player. While Echo360 supports playback speed adjusting, the player is slow to load, laggy and inflexible with resizing.
I value openness
The Masters course I teach in champions openness and I feel like I should model that by making my content publicly accessible and (when I remember to select the right settings!) Creative Commons attribution licensed for reuse.
In a nutshell…
Basically, hosting my content on YouTube makes my life easier and it makes it easier for students to access the content, which means they’re more likely to watch it. And anything I can do to increase the likelihood that my videos get watched is a good thing!