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Teacher Preparation Trends
Using YouTube to assess and supplement online learning

By Amy M. Williamson / August 2012

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Because the very nature of teacher preparation is based on modeling practices, applying theories, and learning strategies in a traditional face-to-face format, some find it hard to believe that an online program could not only provide students with these same fundamentals, but also engage them and adequately prepare them for their own classrooms, as well. Despite the consistent tendencies of higher-education faculty to utilize single testing formats (i.e. essay or multiple choice), education research indicates effective assessment of student learning must incorporate multiple formats. With the surge of online courses, programs, and universities in the last 20 years, there is an increasing need to align student assessments with available technology. Because online learning is steadily becoming the norm, it is important that more educators are aware of the types of tools they can incorporate in their own classrooms—such as Skype, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube—to ensure students are learning effectively and remain active participants in their own education. This article will focus specifically on YouTube. YouTube is a viable option as a means of modeling strategies, providing additional context on education trends, or assessing student learning through student-created videos.

Online Learning for Future Educators

Preparing teachers who can effectively meet the needs of today's students is a challenging task. In an effort to accomplish just that, more and more universities are expanding programs to include online certificates, courses, and degrees in education. When compared to face-to-face instruction, ratings for online teacher preparation programs have been found to be higher, as a result of more innovative online teaching and learning practices [1]. Online learning is a solution for engaging 21st century learners, and for preparing them for the classroom where they are expected to be technologically savvy. Brain research, software advances, teacher shortages, and budget constraints make online learning a rationale alternative for today's student [2]. In addition, online programs offer flexibility to students and to professors, increasing opportunities for learners to observe and gain more experience teaching in classrooms prior to graduation.

YouTube in the Classroom

According to Lim, online learning is about providing interactions among students and their communities to build and share knowledge [3]. Many organizations and educational institutions have focused on the technological challenges of buying the right courseware, getting enough bandwidth allocated to online learning, and obtaining the latest state of-the-art online learning platforms and tools. However, hardware, software and infrastructure only provide the necessary conditions for online learning. State of-the-art Internet technologies do not ensure that learners are willing or know how to engage in the context of their learning and make sense to the information provided to construct their own knowledge [4].

One important aspect of effective online teaching is that learning involves the student's ability to take responsibility for their learning through interactive means [5]. Because YouTube is a free online tool that requires very little technological savvy or experience, it stands to reason that the incorporation of this tool in online classrooms would be helpful for students who are preparing to enter the education field. (See our 5 Tips at the end of this article.)

Consider the following suggestions to assess learners in online education courses:

  • Assign students a theory of education, and have them explain the theory through video, Powerpoint, or Prezi, including the theory's relevance to today's classrooms.
  • Divide students into groups. Assign each group an educational trend. Each group should provide a summary of the topic, research on that topic, and recommendations for future educators.
  • Have students interview classroom teachers about their most beneficial classroom practices.
  • At the end of a course, require students to create a video summarizing what new teachers should know about the assigned topic, etc.
  • Have each group simulate role-play, demonstrating poor and effective ways to handle classroom situations.
  • Learners can teach and record a classroom lesson (with proper consent), then reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Students can create infomercials for books they have read or want to encourage their students to read.

Today's students typically use technology to learn more aptly, and making learning creative is important to their achievement in the classroom [6]. As a result, providing pre-service teachers enrolled in online classes the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through the creation and posting of YouTube and Teacher Tube videos not only provides them an outlet for creativity, but they are required to use higher order thinking skills, develop their technological skills as a future educator, and self-reflect on what they have learned in their course work.


Online learning can no longer be considered a fad that may quickly pass. It is likely the delivery methods will continue to change as new and different tools are created and used, but the future appears to favor those who wish to teach and learn online. It is important that new teachers entering the profession be exposed to the process of learning online. Once they understand this process, they can more effectively use these online tools when time comes for them to teach in front of a class [7]. The use of YouTube to merge the old and new ways of teaching will effectively allow students to reflect on what they have learned, while demonstrating their competence in the field of education.

Five Tips for Successfully Using YouTube in the Classroom

  1. Model instructions for the assignment.
  2. Do not assume learners know how to create an account for uploading their own videos. Provide clarification.
  3. Preview the quality of videos and relevance of content before using them to supplement your lesson or topic.
  4. Allow for personalization of videos created. Students learn better when they take responsibility for their learning and can present that learning in an individual way.
  5. Provide tools when possible to successfully facilitate the project such as IT support, Web cams, computer access, or a venue to record video clips.

About the Author

Amy M. Williamson is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Her research deals with diversity in the classroom, content literacy, and teacher quality. She earned her doctorate from Baylor University.


[1] Chiero, R., and Beare, P. An Evaluation of Online versus Campus-Based Teacher Preparation Programs. Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 6, 4 (Dec 2010).

[2] Umpstead, B. The Rise of Online Learning. Principal Leadership 10, 1 (2009, Sept), 68-70.

[3] Lim, C.P. Online Learning in Higher Education: Necessary and sufficient conditions. International Journal of Instructional Media 32, 4 (2005), 323-330.

[4] Lim, C. P. Engaging Learners in Online Learning Environments. Tech Trends 48, 4 (2004), 16-23.

[5] Richardson, J.C. and Newby, T. The Role of Students' Cognitive Engagement in Online Learning. The American Journal of Distance Education 20, 1 (2006), 23-37.

[6] Teaching Tips. Honolulu Community College Faculty Development, 2011. Retrieved on September 22, 2011 from:

[7] Miller, T. and Ribble, M. Moving Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Changing the conversation on online education. Educational Considerations 37, 2 (Spring 2010), 3-6.

© 2012 ACM 1535-394X/12/08 $15.00

DOI: 10.1145/2351196.2351197


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