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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

How to Use YouTube in the Classroom

Educational consultant and former blogger Chris O'Neal demonstrates educational uses for the video-sharing Web site. More to this story. See more educator tech-tool lessons.
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Hi, I'm Chris O'Neal, and we're going to do a brief tour of YouTube. I think of YouTube as, like, a giant video flea market. So lots of cool finds mixed in with a lot of crazy junk. From a teacher's standpoint, it's a treasure trove of videos, so let's take a quick tour. We're going to start off by going to, and on the main page, what you'll find is just a variety of most popular clips of the day, the most talked about clip of the week.

Just like you wouldn't set your students free on a field trip, though, without giving them some guidance ahead of time, you probably shouldn't sit students down in front of YouTube, and have them search aimlessly, either. Whatever your thoughts on YouTube may be, it makes the most sense to give age appropriate guidance to your kids. There's certainly a lot to learn from watching YouTube videos. Some of the content is just not appropriate for all ages.

I'm going to start off by doing the most common thing on YouTube, which is just a basic search. I'm going to click here, and type, life cycle, since that's something a lot of teachers look for. What you'll find are thousands of video returns. It tells me right here, 9,400 videos have been uploaded to YouTube, that use the words, life cycle. I got lucky, in that the first clip I click on right here, will start playing automatically. I'm going to pause it, is actually about the life cycle of the lunar moth, so that's perfect for what I'm looking for. You'll find that searching ahead of time is the key to making efficient use of YouTube in the classroom.

So now that I've found a great video I'd like to use, I can either show it right away-- I'm just going to click play, to show the video, or I can embed it to show it in my own website, blog or wiki. If you look to the right of the video, you'll see a brief description of the video, which is provided by the person who uploaded this video. Directly beneath the description is the URL for this video, so I can e-mail this URL to someone else, and let them watch the video. Directly beneath that is an embed section. If I click in that white horizontal bar, I get embed code, which means I can copy that text, and paste it into a wiki or a blog, or website, and actually embed the video directly into my own website.

Beneath this embed code section are a few options you'll want to pay attention to. The first box that says, include related videos, I always uncheck that box. If you don't uncheck that box, and you embed your video, you'll find, to the side, some extra videos that YouTube suggests, which may, or may not be appropriate for what you want to share with your children. So I uncheck this box. I choose a size that I like, and then I click back up in the embed code section, right click, and copy. Now I simply go to my wiki or blog, and paste in that text.

You can create your own account on YouTube which allows you to save favorites. I'm logged in right now. I can look at my videos, my favorites, I can even make playlists. I can subscribe to specific sections of YouTube, specific users or even tag or keywords. I can also be alerted when users I like upload new videos. The newest section to YouTube that I think teachers like, is That's an education section of YouTube, built specifically for educators. The videos uploaded in the section are from universities and school systems. Each of these videos is provided with the notion that they can be of some help to teachers. So the users who create these videos agree that all videos uploaded to this specific section, have education in mind.

Last, but most certainly not least, you can upload your own videos to YouTube. Whether you've shot vacation video footage, or you've even staged a video, because you know it will be helpful to other teachers, it's a great place to share video. Not only do you get to catalogue your own video for your specific classrooms, but other people around the world get to make use of your video as well.

Be sure to visit, for more educational resources.

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Produced by Chris O'Neal for

More resources for educators about using online video with your students at "How to Use Online Video in Your Classroom".

Comments (32)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

todd harrison's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Love the idea of using Youtube in the classroom but have a dilema: Hawaii is the only state that has a single, state run department of education, meaning one office controls all schools on all islands. All education rules and regulations come out of Honolulu and apply state-wide. Therefore, sites like youtube are inaccessible through our DOE server due to the inappropriate material on much of youtube's a result the only way for teachers to use relevant material from the site is to download at home and bring it in on a flashdrive or embedd it on a self-made document or lesson plan, which takes more time. Teachers can't use prep time to browse the site to find useful material. Any suggestions on how to get around the ban of using school computers to access the site...funything is the kids can get around the firewalls in seconds, but then put school computers at risk. What's a safe and professional way to go about it?

Brendan Noon's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

If anyone is inerested in checking out how one science teacher is using youtube as an extension of classtime, check out thelarge selection of science related videos i've placed on my youtube channel:

You can also see how I use youtube to have students post video projects that I can display to the class using my favorites selections.

For more information on how I incoporate technology into my classroom, view my interactive online presentation at:


Brendan Noon

Danuta's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The easiest way to download a video is to install a Firefox plug in called download helper.Just google it, install it and you'll get a little icon beside an address field at the top. There will be a drop down arrow there to click and choose one of the options.

Donna Guiliano's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

If you don't have it, download RealPlayer. When you are able to access YouTube, find a video you want, right click on the video, then select "download to Real Player". Once you have the file on your computer, you can transfer the file to another computer (eg with a flash drive), then open it with Real Player on that computer. I have a teacher laptop from my school, so when I take it home, I download the videos I want on YouTube (for example, a 1942 newsreel of a German U-boat off the coast of Curacao, exactly what we were reading about in the novel The Cay).

kirsten's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

you can convert YouTube videos to WMV (windows media) or even audio format using a free program called Zamzar. I convert videos then incorporate them into Moviemaker to create a mini-lesson that directives (analyze the following video...) There's also a free program called VideoGet, although I had problems using videos converted with that program into Moviemaker

genaprice's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

you can also type the word kick in front of the word youtube in the url and convert it

karen's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

our district blocks youtube so, from home, i use a free downloading tool especially good for mac users:
through firefox you can get 'TubeTV' - it is very easy to use

Suzie Nestico - Mount Carmel Area High School's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

If YouTube is blocked at school but you want to use them in class, embed the videos onto a wiki page if you have a class wiki. It is quicker than converting and you still have total control over how students are viewing youtube vids without taking any chances of them being somewhere they are not supposed to be.

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