Is YouTube The Future of Online Education?

Posted by Dan St. Hilaire  /  March 7, 2012  /  Industry News   —   1 Comments ↓

Is YouTube The Future of Online Education?

YouTube is a fountain of information on every topic imaginable–including information technology. But can the instructional videos posted online substitute formal technical
education? Here, find out what YouTube can–and can’t–offer IT professionals.

YouTube’s Online Video Learning Experiment

Online educators are continually seeking innovative ways to put multimedia resources to work in engaging and teaching their students. In recent years, YouTube has emerged as one front in the new paradigm of online video learning. Universities such as MIT, Yale, Harvard, and Stanford led the way by posting a handful of their college lectures free on YouTube. To encourage the trend, YouTube released a sister site, YouTube EDU, in 2009. This site collects thousands of lectures from universities across the country and serves them up to users, completely gratis.

The latest chapter in YouTube’s emergence as an online video learning center has users posting their own instructional lectures that share their expertise. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education feature, “College 2.0″, financial analyst Salman Khan is profiled. Kahn developed a recurring series of 10-minute lectures on science and technology specifically for YouTube. Over time, he’s launched more than 1,400 mini-lectures on mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history, and finance. His efforts have lead to a dedicated following from college students, “netizens,” venture capitalists, and more who are all eager to explore alternatives to traditional higher education.

YouTube for IT Education?

Information technology is well-represented among YouTube’s educational videos. For example, YouTube EDU includes lectures on the following:

  • Health informatics
  • Global IT
  • IT policy
  • System architecture
  • Library information science

YouTube itself has thousands of IT instructional videos ranging from basic educational topics to promotional videos and joke content. The emphasis is on how-to videos, ranging from “How to Install an Operating System” and “Basic Desktop Publishing,” on up to more complex concepts and techniques.

Is YouTube a Match for Higher Education?

YouTube’s instructional content gets a lot of press, and educators and students are constantly evaluating the site’s promise as a medium for online video learning. The general consensus among these groups is that YouTube is a worthy complement to traditional higher education—not a replacement. Students who watched the Khan Academy videos, for example, reported they saw the service as a “helpful supplement to the classroom experience” rather than an alternative to a college education.

YouTube online video education does offer some advantages:

  • A multimedia experience
  • Self-directed learning
  • Short, targeted information sessions

Yet YouTube’s videos can’t replace formal IT training programs, and the resume boosting degrees that come with them. Colleges and online IT training programs feature:

  • Accreditation
  • Degrees and IT certifications
  • Reliable, high-quality content
  • Instructors with professional and academic credentials
  • Full IT courses, offering comprehensive training
  • Hand-on training alongside online video education
  • Robust online video learning tools

Formal IT training, either on campus or online, extends well beyond a short lecture. An IT course online, for example, includes video demonstrations, discussions with peers and instructors via IM, live instruction via digital whiteboards, and other interactive features. Campus and online courses create a comprehensive learning experience, explains John Moravec of Education Futures: “In these environments, student learning does not occur as much within lecture halls as it occurs outside of the classroom–through interactions with other students, individual and informal study groups, independent or directed research, etc.”

KnowledgeWave, a Certified Learning Training center for Microsoft who also delivers computer training and technical certifications in Citrix, Cisco, and ITIL, is an example of such online training success in the modern digital era. Combining the advantages of face-to-face instructor-led training with that of the latest conferencing technology, KnowledgeWave can effectively and conveniently provide quality video training sessions with their subscribers via multiple platforms; instructor-led training, live remote training, on-site training, and a unique on-demand library via the KnowledgeWave Learning Site (KLS) that has over 1,000 video tutorials that range from beginner to advanced. Additionally, KnowledgeWave has created a YouTube Channel providing free tutorial content.

YouTube has its place in IT education, but the innovative service can be limited when it comes to educating listeners. Professional IT courses that are taught online, on the other hand, are comprehensive and aren’t likely to be replaced by YouTube any time soon.

Professors used to complain about students sitting in class, surfing sites like YouTube or listening to their iPods. But now, it’s thanks to sites like YouTube EDU and iTunes U, that the one-time classroom distractions may now be vital learning tools.

Debbie Lawrence is a content editor who primarily writes for an online schooling blog. You can contact her at dlawrence2[@] with any suggestions, questions, or comments. You can find her on Twitter here.

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