Since it’s creation in 2005, YouTube has not only become the most popular video-hosting website on the Internet, but it currently ranks as the 3rd most visited website in the world according to Alexa.com (YouTube Site Overview, 2014). I myself have been using YouTube to watch and upload videos for personal entertainment since it was launched. However, only a few years ago as an undergraduate did I begin seeing instructors using YouTube in the classroom for educational purposes. Not only was it used as a visual tool, but as a student I was given the opportunity to learn hands-on by producing my own content for educational purposes.
I created my YouTube Survey (found here) as a way to examine individual experiences with YouTube, from both personal and academic standpoints, and to see if I could identify trends between them. Here’s what I found: (to view this table directly in your browser, click here)
My survey respondents consisted of my ED431 Cohort, people in my extended Personal Learning Network, and my coworkers at UAS-Sitka. I had great results after sharing my survey with friends and colleagues on Facebook and one of my undergrad professors on Twitter, ending up with 55 total respondents. The age demographics ended up as I expected they would be: largely consisting of 25-34 year olds, with significant representation from the 18-24 age group and 35-44 age group. I was pleasantly surprised to have a 4% representation from respondents 65 and older, although I was hoping to hear more from those 17 and younger.
In relation to the participant age, the highest level of education was as expected with almost 50% of participants having earned a Bachelor’s Degree. Overall, 92% of the participants have completed some form of post-secondary education (Some college credit, Trade School, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate).
Because this survey sought to find a correlation between YouTube and Education, I asked
participants to categorize their personal learning style using the VARK guide to learning styles (VARK). My hypothesis was that those who are more inclined to visual and kinesthetic learning would see greater value in using YouTube in education. My survey found a significant number of people who identified themselves as strong Visual Learners, moderate Auditory Learners, and moderate Read/Write Learners. I took notice that out of the 55 participants, only three said they were not at all Visual Learners.
In asking about YouTube familiarity, I expected to see a strong correlation to participant age, that is, those in younger age demographics would be more familiar with YouTube than those who are older. Overall, more than half (roughly 65%) of the survey participants rated themselves as having an above average familiarity with YouTube. After taking a closer look at the demographics I noticed a trend that was slightly different than I expected, with the highly educated 25 to 34 year olds slightly skewing the trend, as well as some tech savvy 45 to 54 year olds.
- Ages 17 or younger, familiarity score = 4
- Ages 18-24, familiarity score = 3.8
- Ages 25 to 34 familiarity score = 3.9
- Ages 35 to 44 familiarity score = 3.5
- Ages 45 to 54 familiarity score = 3.6
- Ages 55 to 64 familiarity score = 3.5
- Ages 65 or older familiarity score = 2
I focused on this question to make a distinction from those who only passively view YouTube videos (consumers) and those who actively participate in YouTube’s online community (producers). I figured there would be an significant difference in the numbers of those who answered yes and those who answered no. As much as I was hoping to see numbers reflecting greater participatory activity on YouTube, I was happy to see a little over 2/3 of participants have had experience uploading their own videos. Those who answered yes to having uploaded videos to YouTube were directed to a branch page which asked questions about the nature of the videos they had uploaded. Roughly 1/4 identified them as school-related, another 1/4 categorized them as job-related, and over half had described their videos as personal entertainment.
When asked if they had ever had an instructor use YouTube as a part of class instruction, 37 out of 55 (or 67%) of the participants said yes. This number was a lot larger than I was expecting. In hindsight, I think it would have been valuable to ask further questions about the nature in which the instructor used YouTube in class (e.g. to give instructions, to help further explain a subject, to give an example, etc).
I found it quite interesting to narrow down use of YouTube in class to various subjects. Unsurprisingly, Math boasted the lowest number. I expected Education and Communications to be relatively popular, as my own experience with YouTube in the classroom springs from getting my Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Reflecting on this now, I should have asked a question to specify the level of education at which these experiences occurred. Since I didn’t, I have to assume that the majority of these experiences with YouTube in the classroom happened during the process of earning a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Similar to the previous question, I asked participants if they had ever used a YouTube for a class assignment. I was shocked to find students have used YouTube for an assignment 11% less than instructors used it for teaching. I would have figured these tech-savvy students who are incredibly comfortable using YouTube would be more inclined to use it for class. However, in examining the consumer/producer relationship of the people who are on YouTube, I suppose it makes sense that there is a lower percentage of students who have never used YouTube for class assignment purposes. For this same reason, I can see why some instructors would be hesitant to allow YouTube for student use in the classroom as consuming some of the content can be incredibly distracting (e.g. funny cat videos, of course).
Again, I wanted to break down the use of YouTube for class assignments into subjects. Math, once more, fell to the bottom of the list. In this instance, Social / International Studies beat out both Communications and Education. I found that regardless of whether it was the student or the teacher, Science was the most popular subject for implementing YouTube videos. I found this incredibly interesting, yet unsurprising. Because this survey consisted of many strong visual learners, I can understand why a visually stimulating platform like YouTube would be popular in explaining topics in Science.
In asking this question, I expected to see a correlation similar to the one found between age and YouTube familiarity. While it seemed everyone seemed very comfortable with using YouTube in general, attitudes varied more by age groups when asked how they felt about using YouTube as an educational tool. Participants ages 25 through 64 agreed that they liked the idea. Of course the youngest and oldest age groups represented the opposite ends of spectrum. What surprised me most was the slight drop in average feeling for the 18-24 age group.
- Ages 17 or younger, average feeling = 5
- Ages 18-24, average feeling = 3.93
- Ages 25 to 34, average feeling = 4.05
- Ages 35 to 44, average feeling = 4
- Ages 45 to 54, average feeling = 4
- Ages 55 to 64, average feeling = 4
- Ages 65 or older, average feeling = 1.5
The final question I asked was open-ended, simply: “How would you like to see YouTube used in education?” While the answers are not numerical and can’t necessarily be graphed, I used Wordle to create a cloud of the most common words used in answering this question. I was pleasantly surprised by how open people were to implementing YouTube in the classroom as a way to further understanding of a particular subject, using words like “example,” “explain,” and “show.” However, most were careful to clarify they would like to see YouTube as a tool and a resource for educators, not a replacement of educators all together.
This was my first time creating a Google Docs Survey. It became frustrating for me to analyze the data for two reasons: 1) the fact there was a lot of data to sort through, both in terms of number of participants and number of questions, and 2) I found there were many questions that I should have worded differently or perhaps even MORE questions I could have asked to gain a deeper understanding from this survey. Which leads me to another overlying problem: I should have focused more on what I wanted to gain from this survey when I developed the questions. Ultimately, I named this survey YouTube in Education, but I ended up focusing much of my attention on age and highest level of education achieved. Why? I think for me it was easier to analyze a cut-and-dry numerical value as opposed to items that are based on personal opinion–the questions that have no right or wrong answers and are subject to one’s personality and beliefs. What does it mean to rate your familiarity with YouTube a 3? If we could physically measure what two people know about YouTube, we might find that the person who rated themselves a 3 knows more than the person who rated themselves a 5. That being said, I can see the value of using a survey to collect basic information. However, in terms of this assignment, there are issues too complex to cover completely in one Google Docs Survey.
VARK: A Guide to Learning Styles. (2014, January 1). Retrieved from http://vark-learn.com/home/
Youtube.com Site Overview. (2014, November 21). Retrieved from http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/youtube.com