Making my lecture videos available on YouTube was a big decision.
I had always understood what an effective tool this free technology could be for college instructors (if used correctly), but it’s hard to record yourself discussing ten or so different topics. It’s not necessarily that the task at hand is hard to accomplish, it’s that ‘putting yourself out there’ can be surprisingly scary, and it leaves you vulnerable to criticism.
I have some good news, though. After I made this seemingly big step, I realized there are a number of reasons why we might all have reservations about going down this road that aren’t really justified.
Here’s some advice I wish others had given me:
- Just do it.
Your entire life doesn’t change just because you put a public video on YouTube. There might be some anxiety leading up to that moment, but each time you post a new video, it becomes easier and easier. You’ll start to wonder why you ever thought it was a big deal in the first place. I don’t mean to copy Nike or Shia LeBeouf when I say this, but honestly, just do it and don’t think too much about it. Just like ripping off a bandage.
- Even though you created these videos, it doesn’t mean you have to watch them.
When I edit my YouTube lectures these days, I keep them on mute and avoid watching them too intently. Like many other people, watching and hearing yourself on video might feel strange, regardless of how skilled you might feel as a speaker. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your knowledge and material publicly.
- Random people most likely will not watch your video.
Unless you’ve directed someone to your videos with specific directions or the actual link, people probably won’t stumble upon them (which might be good or bad news, depending on what you’re looking to gain from this). All those fears people have of ‘putting themselves out there,’ only to be rejected, are unrealistic on a platform like YouTube. Most of my videos have been up for over a year now, and I’m pretty sure it’s just my students watching. I haven’t had any negative feedback (knock on wood). You can even block comments if you want to play it safe.
Once you’ve made the decision to record and load your lectures on YouTube, do it in the way that suits you best.
I used a free trial of Camtasia to develop a number of videos, but I found that I was putting too much preparation time into filming those (and I promise, they really don’t need to be perfect). I ended up finishing most of my recordings during summer classes, when students were calm, and I had extra time to consider how and when I might record myself (and do retakes if need be).
There always tends to be a few willing students who will do a great job of using a smartphone or tablet to capture the material covered in class. Once you have your videos recorded, it’s just a matter of being sure you have a professional YouTube channel and “Student" playlist you can direct your students to.
Now that you’ve overcome your own fears, and found the best ways to do the recording and uploading, let’s discuss the most important part: why this is beneficial for you and your students.
First of all, having my lecture videos available on YouTube has helped my students and me in more ways than I could have imagined. Here are just a few ways:
Benefits for the instructor
- If a student missed class, I don’t have to repeat myself.
- I can use these same videos for my online classes.
- Online schools, and even traditional universities, are impressed with instructors who maintain a professional online presence and go the extra mile to have lectures online (which can lead to more job opportunities).
- If I have to cancel class unexpectedly, or we simply run out of time, having students watch the lecture at home allows us to stay on schedule.
- Some colleges are flexible about allowing the occasional class period to be a ‘distance learning day,’ so my lesson plans for that day are already taken care of without additional work on my end.
- In helping to train new instructors, pointing them in the direction of my online videos makes my job easier.
Benefits for the students
- If a student misses class, they don’t fall behind.
- If portions of the in-class lecture were confusing to my students, especially my international students, they can watch them again online.
- Some students learn better at home on their own time, so by making my videos available, I can cater to different learning styles.
- Students can adjust the speed of the lecture, to slow it down or speed it up as needed.
- If students want an easier way to review notes before a quiz or exam, or an aid when studying their notes and textbook, re-watching lecture videos seems to agree with the millennial students.
- Students love the idea of watching YouTube videos, so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
I hope this piece has shed some light on the myriad ways that posting lectures on YouTube can be easy to mentally and physically overcome, and can also benefit you and your students. So now it’s time to take action. Be ahead of the curve, and speak to your young students in a way that suits their learning style. You’ll be doing everyone a favor, and your career will thank you!