Thursday, May 21, 2015

Show Me the CCSS Part V: YouTube as an Assessment Tool

When YouTube first launched in 2005, the idea of "normal people" being able to broadcast their own videos to a mass audience was a completely irrational and unbelievable idea.

In fact the first video posted to YouTube hardly begs the *adoring public to tune in. See for yourself:

*My sincere apologies to elephantophiles everywhere.

Since then, we know that YouTube has literally blown up the Internet landscape. As of this date, the site is arguably the most popular in the world with over 1 billion viewers and an average of 300 hours uploaded every minute. Some even say that it is going to eventually cause the information highway to come to a screeching halt at the dirt road of despair and empty hours at work. (Not that any of us ever wastes time at our desks watching YouTube videos of Jimmy Fallon, right?)

Once YouTube gained LeBron James-type momentum on a worldwide scale, there was no avoiding an obvious conclusion...the site must be blocked at school because kids would spend more time watching Vin Diesel videos than filling out their Venn Diagrams.

However, as is the case with most steamrolling technology, educators and school officials finally caved in and said:

In most schools today, YouTube is not only unblocked but has also become an unfettered resource for teachers at all levels and for all content areas from math to marriage and relations.

Consider the following as proof:

In search of a video on volcanoes to show to your students in Wyoming? (True story, actually) Find all you want on YouTube.

Need a tutorial on how to change a set of spark plugs in an '97 Ford F150? Somebody, somewhere has posted one on YouTube.

Do you want to show your math class the scene in Dumb and Dumber that talks about probabilities?

You get the idea.

The beauty (and the curse, certainly) of YouTube is that anyone can post (nearly) any video and have it immediately available to the entire mass of Wi-Fi'ed humanity.

But how can we rein in that power so it can be used for good and not evil in classroom settings? The answers are really quite simple.
YouTube is widely considered a source for finished products ready to showcase to the public. Use that to your advantage. Educator and speaker Dr. Wesley Fryer stated that students have a desire to have their work published and seen outside of their classroom walls.

Indeed, think about the typical methods of "publishing" in schools: Bulletin Boards, Cork-board Hallway Runners, School Newspaper Articles, and Family Refrigerators all over the globe. Or worse, lining the bottom of backpacks or filling garbage cans at the end of a grading period.

Posting students' work to YouTube opens up the doors for it to be seen not only by Aunt Irma in Rexburg, Idaho but by Yushiko in Fujiyoshida, Japan and Silvio in Madrid, Spain.

Now, now. I hear what you are saying. "Most of what my students produce is not in video format, so this is impossible for me."

The response to that concern is that nearly everything from traditional worksheets (not that you'd ever assign one of those, right?) to PowerPoints can be converted to a video format suitable for uploading to YouTube. Sometimes it is as easy as taking screenshots and adding those to a ppt that is the converted to a mp4. But that method, while a good start, is in reality - So Yesterday.

Most of us in EdTech land are well versed in having students show what they know via tech creations of all kinds. Publishing to YouTube is simply a step further towards greater visibility. Heck, even this guy became a worldwide sensation because of his video posts.

If the Biebs can do it, we all can do it, right?

Wait, I also hear your concern of student privacy. A way around that is to create a closed YouTube Channel that only your students and parents have access to. (Of course content has a way of leaking out to a public audience, but that is a lesson is responsible use of technology and content.)

Private YouTube channels also allow classes to engage in two important aspects of learning. First, students can show what they know using any of the creation tools discussed in this blog and many, many others. YT simply becomes a reasonable, vastly popular, and completely free housing source for all of your student work, flipped lessons, and more.

In addition, students can collaborate, share ideas, and provide feedback via the comments function on every YT page. A teacher I work with uses his private classroom channel to house his student work (which he can grade from anywhere at anytime from his phone) while requiring his students to make comments and feedback on the uploads on his channel.

In this way he can get valuable formative evidence about how well his students are grasping a certain concept or skill. Since he has gone to this format, neither he or his students would return to more traditional means.

Private YT Channels for Assessment is an idea that manifests its usefulness and relevance with products like the following:

A series of videos explaining the steps in solving an equation in Algebra class.

Mock news reports informing viewers that Caesar has just been "accidentally" stabbed 87 times by his best friends and to soon expect some rioting in the streets of Rome. "Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your bandwidth."

What if an Automotive teacher asked his students to document how to...oh, I don't know...change the spark plugs in a '97 F150?

And instead of only assessing a student's final project in Industrial Arts (a birdhouse, for example), how nice would it be to a have a video taking the teacher (and the rest of the world, ultimately) through the process from beginning to end? The answer:

The same concept applies in all content and at most levels of education.

Give it a whirl. Meet the kids where they are and take away a little bit of the stuffiness of formal public education. They will be impressed, no doubt.

Even More Ideas:

+Visit and turn any YouTube video out there into an online quiz and discussion.
+There are any number of YouTube downloader add-ons available on Firefox, Chrome, etc that allow you to save videos to your hard drive for use in PPTs and such.
+Video editing functions (like "Trim" in Quicktime) make it easy to cut out or shorten material to have it just like you want it.
+Embedding YT videos into PowerPoint, Prezi, etc. make presentations go more smoothly and look more professional. No more broken links or buffering with slow Internet connections.

What are your ideas and successes with using YouTube in your classroom? Please comment below, or better yet, give us a shoutout on Twitter (because comment boxes are sooooo yesterday).

Tweeps, hit us up at @coachdarin22 @blaireinfeldt @edtechmaniacs

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