Using YouTube To Educate…and Test?


What if your college professor told you that your take home exam was on YouTube?

The popular video site may currently be one of the biggest distractions students try to avoid during midterms and finals, but it may not stay that way. Anthony Ha, author at TechCrunch wrote about a new beta test feature on YouTube that allows video producers to create an interactive “quiz-like” questionnaire that plays during the video. At the end, a summary will appear to analyze the answers.

Though in beta, this option could revolutionize the way YouTube is used in an academic setting.

The Importance of Interactivity

If students have the option to interact during a video tutorial or lesson, how does it help the educational process?

Engaging the viewer is a practice that is understood in preschool television for helping memory. For example, Dora the Explorer is designed so that Dora asks the children to answer the questions. She pauses as the child shouts out the answer, giving a feel of “conversation” rather than passive viewing.

This model of video production also works in recipe or home construction shows where the host talks directly to the viewer.

Education has long been the institution that is behind on the latest learning techniques and technology. But how would it change a student’s ability to absorb information if the lecture was turned into an active discussion? The YouTube beta test feature could just be that tool.

How Would It Work?

The idea is simple. During the production of the video, a professor types in various questions. He or she then attaches a time for the question (i.e. question one flashes on the screen approximately 2 minutes into the video).

Then, he or she would give either an open-ended answer box or several options, with the choice of adding a hint should the student get it wrong. When the student watches the lesson, they can fill in the answers as they appear on the screen.

At the end, there is an analysis of questions answered right or wrong.

Professors Have Another Way To Evaluate Learning

This new feature would be an invaluable way for professors to get feedback on the usefulness of their lectures. We all know the inside joking that goes on when a professor rambles in a lecture hall while students write, draw, horse around, or play on their smartphones.

ut teachers need to know that they are reaching their audience. YouTube’s new beta feature may not be the best way to proctor an exam, but it can give valuable information to both the professor and the student.

Keeping The Student On The Screen

Many of today’s students multitask. Especially if you are enrolled in distance education, the temptation might be to turn on a video lecture, open a new tab, and browse Facebook while you listen to the teacher ramble on. When you add an interactive component to the video, then the student must stay on the screen to answer the questions.

It is another way for professors to evaluate how much students are listening in during lectures.

It Is Only The Beginning

Obviously, this YouTube feature is only a beginning test. There is a long way to go in developing a way to interact with YouTube videos. However, the potential is there for students and teachers to engage each other more, while continuing with the flexibility of online learning.

If you are a professor or student, what do you think about using YouTube to test learning?


Julie DeNeen has her bachelor's degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Haven. She spent several years working for a local Connecticut school at the district level, implementing new technologies to help students and teachers in the classroom. She also taught workshops to teachers about the importance of digital student management software, designed to keep students, parents, and teachers connected to the learning process.

You can find out more about her @jdeneen4 and Google+.

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7 Comments on “Using YouTube To Educate…and Test?

  1. This is a great article. Take a look at which takes this a bit further. You can create flashcards and review questions with any YouTube video.

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