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. 
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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 comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Brian's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

YouTube's Terms of Service (you all agree to this when accessing content from their site). Again, you cannot "legally" download, extract, save, or rip any video from the YouTube site.

4. General Use of the Website--Permissions and Restrictions
YouTube hereby grants you permission to access and use the Website as set forth in these Terms of Service, provided that:

C. You agree not to access User Submissions (defined below) or YouTube Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.

5. Your Use of Content on the Site
F. You agree not to circumvent, disable or otherwise interfere with security-related features of the YouTube Website or features that prevent or restrict use or copying of any Content or enforce limitations on use of the YouTube Website or the Content therein.

Wake up teachers and figure out another way to use the videos in class with students.

Connie Taylor's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The profssional way to go about it, is contact the district tech department and/or teaching and learning department and convince them that Youtube is a valid teaching tool. Then ask them to establish a teacher override that can be used by staff. This is what happened in the Issaquah School District and now staff is able to play youtube videos in class.

And speaking as a tech in one of those ISD schools, please report any student getting around firewalls and other unacceptable use of the computers. Most likely they have signed and agreement along with their parents stating they know the rules. Most of these rules are probably also state law: Public schools, public funds, public laws. Breaking the rules does put the computers, the network the students and technology funding at risk.

Jackie Miller's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What about using an internal video portal that is "YouTube" like but controlled in your school's environment?

Keith Jaeger's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

By your admission you are not an educator. I believe the US Code supersedes any policy set my for profit operations.

US Code Title 17 - Copyrights
Sec. 107. - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

"...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is NOT an infringement of copyright."

We educators do what we can with what we have.

Lighten up.

kat1800's picture
6th grade Language Arts teacher Colorado

You can also download a free program called ATube catcher at home and download the videos you want. You can easily save the file to a flash drive and take it to school with you. I have found that RealPlayer still needs an unblocked internet connection to work. You may also be able to ask for an unblocking code from your Technology support office.

kat1800's picture
6th grade Language Arts teacher Colorado

You can also download a free program called "ATube Catcher" at home, capture the video and take it to school on a flash drive. I have found that Real Player still requires an internet connection to play "downloaded" videos. You might also check with your technology support office to see if you can get an unblocking code?

fwallace16's picture

I really liked this video presentation. It was straight forward and easy to follow. I particularly liked the information about - will check it out more.
Thanks. From Felicity in Australia

tarzon's picture

hi everyone.
if you want to know how to access youtube at school then visit at

in search bar enter type "access youtube at SHL"
you will be guided on how to access youtube.

any question please add comments.


clara's picture

Interesting! I appreciate it and great tool. Thanks for sharing.

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