YouTube Idol – Videos and Education

I recently bumped into YouTube’s “American Idol” competition to identify ten “YouTube Next EDU Gurus” à la Khan Academy. Here’s an excerpt from YouTube’s blog:  

“We believe that inspiring online educators can come from all walks of life, and we want to find the next generation of educational YouTube stars – people with a talent for explaining tough concepts in compelling ways, and the passion and drive to assemble a global classroom of students. YouTube educational channels like Khan Academy, CrashCourse, Veritasium, Numberphile, MinutePhysics and Ted-Ed have grown to millions of views and subscribers – could you be next?”

Also embedded in this post was a video from Steve Spangler that eluded to back-to-school and highlighted a few demonstrations in true Spangler-style:

Now, nothing against YouTube or Steve, but I asked a few critical questions as I watched his video in the context of the YouTube competition:  

Why are the back-to-school references so dated (e.g., desks, goofy note, and constant “shhhhh-ing”)? What exactly is the lesson for the instruction in this video? Why does he always explain what will happen before demonstrating it?

To partially respond to the last question, I edited his video into two distinct clips, which I think would truly lead into inquiry-driven lessons where I would expect students to follow up with experimentation designed to model the science behind their observations from the demonstration. Here they are … what could students do with these?


An 8-minute video pared down to two 25-second videos. I’d love to see more educators create videos that tease students to ask questions that direct learning and create fewer videos that simply explain the what and why. Anyway, something to think about…


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