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K12 Teachers Avoid “Digital Dropouts” this Year with YouTube Videos

I am completely blown away by the digital divide between K12 students who are light years ahead of their teachers, many of whom seem paralyzed by the shock of being forced to go digital in less than 30 days. And this digital divide doesn’t even scratch the surface of the pre-existing digital divide of kids who do have access to internet and technology because they can afford it, and those who do not because they can’t.

I spoke to my nephew today who said that he hadn’t seen most of his teachers faces in over three weeks because they weren’t using Zoom or Google Hangouts yet. The challenge facing teachers to go online is nobody’s fault – we weren’t expecting it – but it isn’t fair to our students who have stopped learning because of it. We must get creative quickly to help our students keep learning in order to explore, stay curious, gain skills, and to discovery what excites them about the world.

I’ve been a high school teacher. I get it. It’s hard to come up with new lessons every day – let alone, record yourself doing them, and or figure out how to get your curriculum online fast. But it is critical that teachers make this leap. And not give up just because summer is close. I’m not placing judgement – the opposite. I support you. I write as a call to action to all teachers to continue with their mission of teaching.

We collaborated with YouTube last year to help produce some lessons that help educators create educational content on YouTube. So this article isn’t just about what learning videos you can find on YouTube, it’s also about what videos you can make to help your own classroom and fellow teachers by open sourcing your curriculum.

The good news is – my nephew’s teachers are using Google Classroom, so there is some structure to the materials. But for high school students, middle school students, or elementary school students – they really need to see a human to learn. More importantly – a teacher who can guide them, coach them, support them, mentor them, and encourage them. I’m sorry – power points and text docs just aren’t going to get the job done. Students need digital resources.

The incredibly valuable learning resource that every school, teacher, and parent loves to hate is Google’s little sister YouTube. Because of the ads – YouTube is not allowed in schools. But yet – students love learning from YouTube, so much so that learning content is among the most searched on the platform.

And while the learning videos on YouTube may not always be created by college professors, that’s OK. It’s often taught by experts in their field who excel at the subject matter – but whom also excel at teaching on this platform. Remember: Khan Academy, now famous, and invested in by Bill Gates, has had tremendous global educational impact and reach, and Khan Academy started on YouTube when he was making math tutorials for his niece. So let’s put aside our qualms about the platform in the spirit of learning and innovation.

What’s challenging about YouTube is that is incredibly difficult to find what you are looking for beyond the “search bar” and to know if it’s good or not. How could anyone begin to know which channels are legit, and which ones are baloney. And what teacher or parent has time to do all the research and watch every single video to see if it’s something they want their kids watching? Not to mention the fact that if you open up YouTube, there’s the rabbit hole effect. Below I have curated a list of my favorite learning YouTube channels to help.

YouTube is not a replacement of learning resources, but it is a wonderful curiosity tool. A great hook. And more than anything – that’s what students need right now. A way to become engaged again in the material, to be inspired, captivated, and motivated to learn. When teachers curate the video lessons that they have vetted and approved, that could be an excellent winning combination. If the price students need to pay to learn is to watch a free ad every now and then, so be it. YouTube has learned some hard lessons in the last few years and won’t serve ads that aren’t brand safe over these types of learning videos.

My nephew’s favorite teacher was the “tech savvy” teacher who had been able to “flip his classroom” and was recording 15 minute video lectures every day to teach, and then giving my nephew an assignment once he explained the key concepts. It happened to be the science teacher and the social studies teacher who were leaps and bounds ahead of his teacher colleagues. When I asked him what his favorite subjects were, he said: science and social studies. Is this a surprise to the rest of us?

My nephew was under the impression that not a lot of learning was going to be happening between now and the summer. I don’t think this is because he doesn’t want to be learning – but rather, because teachers have given him that idea. There are no tests scheduled for the rest of the year. I’m sharing below a list of my favorite learning YouTube channels as resources for teachers and parents to keep students engaged, excited, curious, and motivated – not to replace the curriculum, the projects, the assignments, the test, and most certainly not to replace the teacher. I’m also sharing some other learning platform resources to help spark imagination about the possibilities of online learning.

I would also be more than happy to connect any K12 teacher with some of my favorite colleagues at StemScopes or SchoolTube who can really help support your transition from classroom to digital platforms with materials. And if you need tech coaching or guidance on how to flip your classroom by making your own videos or going live online with Google Hangouts or Zoom, please – reach out to me directly by sending me a DM on LinkedIn. Just raise a hand, and I’ll reach out to call on you to help.

The list below is the exact “emergency learning kit” of resources that I sent my siblings to share with their kids. I added some links to other online learning platforms as well just to show them that the world is moving online quickly – and that’s an exciting place to be with a world of resources opportunity at their fingertips. Now is not the time to be bored – but to be curious, creative, and explore!

Are you a teacher, parent, administrator, or student and you agree or disagree with me? Please share your opinion in the comments, I would love to engage in a productive dialogue about your point of view! But before you reach out – I encourage you to check out a few of the learning YouTube videos below. You might be surprised by what you learn 🙂

Pique your curiosity!
Crash Course (All Subjects)
Oversimplified (History)
Nickopedia (Science Experiments)
SciShow (Science)
Vsauce (Science)
Veritasium (Science)
Physics Girl (Physics)
Osmosis (Science)
ASAP Science (Science)
In a Nutshell (Science)
Mary Doodles (Drawing / Art)
Bill of Rights Homework Help (AP History)
CreatorUp (Media Skills)
Advance your skills!
Khan Academy (Math and all subjects)
Go Deeper with Experts!
Space Exploration: (Chris Hadfield via Masterclass)
Basketball Ball Handling (Steph Curry – via Masterclass)
Get College Level Learning- Examples
Social Sciences (via EdX)
Health & Society (via EdEx)
Life Sciences (Coursera)
And have fun!
Feng Shui (Udemy)

Mike Tringe
Mike Tringe
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