YouTube Enhances Classroom Learning at Norristown

Jew'lea Israel and Jonathan Eisen

The teacher walks towards the light switch, and the student having their side conversations suddenly cease. The room is now lit up by windows and the smart board. Their eyes dart from side to side searching for the teacher, who has a video prepared.

A Youtube video is now playing.

Teachers do not always know how best to connect students with material, and they think someone else can do so in a way the students understand. Videos can also show students aspects of the material that their teacher cannot show through lectures or books.

“Instead of reading about them, you can actually see different cultures,” said Ruby Herrera, senior, of the videos her Spanish teacher uses in class.  “The music, the clothing–you need to watch videos for these.”

But if the students are to focus their attention on the video, the video itself must be better than what the teacher can otherwise communicate. If a video just says the information and doesn’t try to make the material clear, fun, and exciting, students will lose interest and learn little to nothing from that video.

“If [the video] is boring, it’s going to put me to sleep,” said Xavier Edwards, senior, who emphasized that he would, however, stay up for a teacher, even if the teacher’s lesson wasn’t pulling him in.  “It’s out of respect. [Sleeping] is not my habit.”

So how do teachers best use videos in their classrooms?

Many teachers at Norristown Area High school use YouTube as an educational tool. Pilar Gomez, Spanish teacher, uses YouTube as a way to find relevant videos for her lessons.

“I’ve used videos from the textbook, but sometimes they’re are out of date and not as interesting to the students,”  Gomez said.

Although Gomez admits YouTube videos gives her a little break from talking, they are not breaks from the lesson.

“Throughout the video, I’ll stop and pause it and talk about something in the video so it’s not like I can just play it and forget about my class,” Gomez said.

Janet Schafer, math teacher, uses YouTube as as a way to show additional information to her student that might explain it in a different way verbally and visually. She does see a change in student behavior when she puts on a video. “I think there are times that [videos] interest the students more than I do,” Schafer said.  

Schafer chooses her videos by watching them prior to her lesson and determining how much they will benefit the student or just waste time. Schafer regretted a video once that although was “nothing bad,” it did not interest students and wasted time.

The way Schafer sees that a student is listening and learning is by watching her students watch the video.

“If it’s music and kids are getting engaged in the music, then obviously I know they are paying attention,” she said.

Max Geisler, science teacher, uses YouTube in his classroom because there “is a tremendous amount of information on YouTube.”

“The more different ways you can hear stuff, and see this stuff the better off. Maybe you missed [the material] when I explained it, and it didn’t click, but [the video’s] explanation is different and better.”

He sees a change in the students’ performance too. He explained that his class did better on a quiz once he showed an animated video.

“I went out and I found for example ‘The Amoeba Sisters’ who presented the same material but presented it in a different way,” Geisler said.

Geisler doesn’t believe that “you can use it entirely to teach it for you but as supplement to what the teacher is teaching.”

He also thinks YouTube helps him teach his lesson in a different way and different viewpoints so it helps his ability to teach it better and more clearly. Like Gomez, he also pauses the videos and asks questions to see if students are paying attention and learning.

To chose his videos, Geisler begins by googling and picking the videos that best match his lesson.

“I will put a phrase into google and look through the list of what’s available,” Geisler said. “There are certain sources that you know that are more reliable, and there are certain sources you know because you’ve seen other videos made by the same people, and you tend to gravitate to those source.”

Technology is the future of the world, so ways to educate people more effectively will also progress. Youtube as a whole is going to advance to keep up with the advancing age. So learning today will be learning with technology.