Teaching in the dark ages – the value of Youtube

I have spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about how teaching has changed in my time at the chalkface.  I say chalkface but I have never actually used a blackboard, but I do remember such things as writing on OHP transparencies (which I was crap at) and wheeling in the department TV to watch a film on VHS.  In fact I remember the excitement I felt when I realised I could get video and film digitally and spending ages building up a digital library…until Youtube came along…

Now I think Youtube might actually be one of the most underrated developments in education.  No longer do we need to keep VHS, DVD or worry about storing loads of digital video (though we do have to worry about inappropriate adverts and comments below!)  I also think it is probably one of my first thoughts when I start to think about resourcing a lesson – is there a good video clip I can use as a hook/starter or to engage the pupils in some way?

This does link into flippedlearning, as my first attempts at flipping my classroom have invariably involved Youtube.  I am someone who vehemently argues that showing lengthy documentaries or films in the classroom is not good pedagogical practice due to the fact that the learning is passive and very rarely involves high level, analytical questioning or activities.  However the power of a good documentary or feature film as an introduction, revision or consolidation exercise outside the classroom is not to be overrated and I have experimented with documentaries all the way down to KS3 and even got my Year 12’s and 10’s to watch all 3+ hours of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (inaccuracies and all!) as an introduction to both AS and Controlled Assessment topics on the Raj.  Also the fact that youtube is often blocked for students, and I firmly believe that every student needs their own screen to pause and take notes, means that using Youtube forces you to make them take it home!

As my first real attempts at flipping the classroom using video I would argue that these were very positive experiences.  The perils of getting lost in the detail can be overcome by ensuring that there are analytical summary and extension questions and the power of asking pupils the next day what they found most striking or interesting about these films was something that astounded me.

Therefore I do argue that Youtube, as a source of a wide range of film and video footage is amazingly useful for flipping the classroom as, ultimately, sad as it is, it is often a lot more engaging for some students than reading a book!

My current Youtube based @flipyourhistory resources are available at

China – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory%20china

Cold War – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory cold war

Arab-Israeli Conflict – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory arab israeli

Votes for women – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/video-worksheet–mark-steel-lectures-sylvia-pankhurst-11047322


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