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Editorís Note: This research promotes use of YouTube technology to offer a challenge and reward to both instructors and students. A follow-up study would be useful to further validate the authorís positive results.  

Studentsí Perceptions of YouTube Usage
in the College Classroom

Shonna L. Snyder, Sloan Christine Burke
USA

Abstract

Including Internet technologies such as YouTube in the classroom is imperative to meeting the educational needs of the young adult generation.  There have been few studies conducted on student perceptions of using YouTube in the classroom.  The purpose of this study was to explore student perceptions of YouTube as an effective teaching tool within a sample general health course in a midsized southeastern university.  A sample of 810 students completed an online survey regarding their perceptions of YouTube as a learning tool.  The results of this study reveal that students are using YouTube at a high rate and that they desire instructors to use YouTube in the classroom.  Recommendations are made for incorporating YouTube in the classroom.

Key words: Internet, Web 2.0, communication, education, studentsí perceptions, YouTube, technology, E-learning, Learning Resource, online, distance education, video, distance learning, classroom, students, secondary education, higher education, college.

Introduction

Technology in the classroom has come a long way since the days of simply showing a video or using the overhead projector.  The fast paced advances in video technology and communication tools brought on by the Internet in the past decade have caused educators to consider their benefits as classroom tools.  The Web 2.0 generation, those who access the Internet more and use it as a platform for communication and social networking (Downes, n.d.; PEW Internet & American Life Project, 2007), is already using this technology on a day-to-day basis and, therefore, including these tools in the classroom is imperative to meeting the educational needs of these faster-paced, web savvy learners (PEW Internet & American Life Project, 2007).

Founded in 2005, YouTube has quickly become a communication platform on the Internet that the Web 2.0 generation is using daily. YouTube is an Internet application in which people can upload, share, and watch videos. There are millions of messages being uploaded each day onto this forum (YouTube, 2007). Instructors, who use creative teaching strategies that incorporate innovative technology such as YouTube, motivate and engage learners who are technology savvy and are accustomed to the online environment. By using a variety of instructional methods and learning activities in the classroom or via distance education courses, an enriched learning environment is created for the student (Beldarrain, 2006).  YouTube is an innovative approach to deliver instruction using video, computer and Internet technologies.

Internet programs seem to have the advantage of evolving quickly and delivering timely information (Palmer, Graham, & Elliot, 2005). Internet-based resources like YouTube have the ability to integrate relevant content and encourage learners to reflect on how the material can be applied to many different settings. This speaks to the fast-paced learning style of younger learners that frequently use the Internet and YouTube (Educause, 2006; Lee & McLoughlin, 2007).

According to the PEW Internet & American Life Project (Jones & Madden, 2002), college students are using the Internet at much higher rates compared to other populations.  They check email at least once a day (72%), own their own computer (85%), download music files (60%), and 26% use instant messenger (IM). 

College students also use the Internet for educational purposes.  It has become a tool that is required in numerous universities and colleges across the world.  Many college students (48%) reported being required to use the Internet as a form of communication with other students in their classes and 58% used email to communicate with an instructor.  Fortunately, 79% of college students feel that the Internet has impacted their academic experience positively (Jones & Madden, 2002). 

In addition to using the Internet for educational purposes, college students are using the latest communication technology on the Internet such as chatrooms, blogs, YouTube, Instant Messaging (IM), MySpace, and Facebook in order to communicate socially.  Forty two percent of college students reported that they use the Internet the most for communicating socially (Jones & Madden, 2002).  Web Analytics Association (2006) reported that MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube are the top three favorite websites of college students.  This was the first time that a new website (YouTube) had made the top five in its first year.  This study clearly indicates that college students are in the forefront of utilizing the most up-to-date Internet technologies. 

A large number of college professors have used the Internet and email for a number of years and report using the Internet and email on a daily basis (Jones & Johnson-Yale, 2005).  However, when using the Internet to communicate with students, professors ďare more likely to use email than newer technologies such as instant messaging, chat, Web boardsĒ (Jones & Madden, 2002, p. 9).  Yet when asked about other Internet tools such as chatrooms (37%), email-lists (6%), video or audio conferencing (0%) as a way to communicate with students, a very small percentage of professors reported their use (Jones & Johnson-Yale, 2005).

As educators consider the use of video communication tools such as YouTube, they must strongly consider what studentsí think and feel about these tools in their courses.  Frey and Birnbaum (2002) found that students considered teachers who used technology in their courses as more organized than those who did not use it.

Because limited research has been conducted in the area of new communication technologies used within the classroom to enhance learning, the purpose of this study was to determine if studentsí perceived the use of one technology platform, YouTube, as beneficial to their classroom learning experience. 

Methods

Before beginning this study, it was submitted to and approved by the universityís Human Subject Institutional Review Board.

Sample

Participants (n = 837) in this study were undergraduate students enrolled in a general education, required health education course at a southeastern university in Fall, 2007.  The sample was a nonrandomized convenience sample. 

Instrument Development

The questionnaire was developed based on the researchersí knowledge of YouTube and a literature review.  To further establish face and content validity, three experts in the fields of distance education and health education reviewed the questionnaire.  One item was revised and one was added to the prior instrumentation based on the reviewersí feedback.  The questionnaire was not tested for reliability due to time and course constraints.  This will be discussed further in the limitations section. 

The final questionnaire included five demographic questions and eleven questions related to studentsí usage of YouTube and their learning environments.  Demographic questions asked studentsí age, gender, class, race/ethnicity, and residence.  The next eleven questions were related to the studentsí usage of YouTube and their perceptions of its use in their courses. Questions were dichotomous (yes, no) and exhaustive (check all that apply). 

Procedures

In class, via email, and on BlackBoardô postings, all students were asked to participate in the optional study.  Students were offered extra credit for participating.  Students received a web address where they went to complete the confidential questionnaire.  During class, via email and in the written instructions that appeared on the online survey instrument, students were informed that: their participation was voluntary and anonymous; they had the right to stop at any time for any reason; that they could elect to skip questions and to select only those to which they chose to respond; and that the decision to participate (or not participate) would not involve penalty of any kind.  Upon completion of the questionnaire, students received a receipt that contained a unique time stamp that they were to print out and bring to their instructor as proof they had completed the questionnaire and to receive their extra credit. 

Data Analysis

After all data was collected, The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 15.0) was used to analyze the data.  Frequency distributions, means, standard deviations, and ranges of scores were computed to describe the results of the study.  In addition, to address the research questions of this study, cross-tabulation tables were computed to determine any relationship between variables.  Standardized residuals were used to help explain relationships between the independent variable and the dependent variables when the analyses yielded significant statistics.  Alpha level of significance was set at the .05 level to reduce the likelihood of committing a
Type 1 error. 

RESULTS

Demographics

A total of 813 out of 837 sampled completed the survey (97% response rate). Overall, students were using YouTube frequently to watch videos, found it to enhance their learning, and recommended that their professors include it in their courses (Table 1 & 3).  Sixty-six percent (n = 538) of the respondents were female and 34% (n = 275) male.  Age ranged from 17-45 years of age with the majority of respondents being 18 (52%) and 19 (26%) years of age.  The majority of the population (61%, n = 493) were freshman and 28% (n = 226) were sophomores.  Seventy-seven percent of respondents (n = 626) were Caucasian, 14% African American (n = 113), with 3.6% of respondents being Latino or Hispanic (n = 29).  The majority of respondents live in college dormitories or residence halls (n = 485, 60%) with others living in off-campus housing
(n = 292, 36%) (Table 2).

YouTube usage

Respondents were asked about their YouTube usage, specifically if they had ever searched or watched a YouTube video. Ninety-four percent of respondents (n =762) shared that they had.  Chi-square analysis revealed that having ever searched or watched a YouTube video was significantly associated with the studentsí gender (x2 = 4.22) with males more likely to have searched or watched than had females (Table 5).  In addition, 79% (n = 637) reported ever having received a YouTube link via email to watch which was significantly associated with age (Kendallís tau-c = .052) (Table 4).  In terms of frequency of YouTube usage, the majority of respondents (64%, n = 518) reported watching YouTube videos 0-1 times per week on average (Table 1).



Kendallís tau-c statistics revealed that gender (Kendallís tau-c = .296), race (Kendallís tau-c = .085), and student class (Kendallís tau-c = .057) were all significantly associated with the number of times per week students watch a YouTube video (Table 4).  Females were more likely to watch a video 0 to 1 time per week, whereas males were more likely to watch 2 or more times per week.  Freshman students were also less likely to watch 11 or more times per week, whereas juniors were more likely to watch 2 to 5 times and 11 or more times per week compared to sophomores and seniors.  Asian/ Pacific Islanders were more likely to watch 2 to 10 times per week and less likely to watch 0 to 1 time per week compared to other races.

Ninety four percent (n = 221) of respondents shared that YouTube was easy to use.

Eleven percent (n = 89) of the students shared that they had created their own YouTube video in the past although the majority had not created their own video (89%, n = 720).  Chi-squares revealed that this was significant according to gender (x2 = 15.01) and that males were more likely to have created their own video whereas conversely females were less likely to have ever created their own video (Table 5).  Of those who did create their own YouTube video, 84% (n = 83) created it for public viewing (vs. 16% (n = 16) restricted to private viewing only).  When asked what the purpose of creating the video was, 14% (n = 13) created it for a class assignment, 85% (n = 81) created the video for personal use or leisure, and 1% (n = 1) created the video for business or professional purposes (Table 1).  Kendallís tau-c revealed that having created a video for a class assignment, personal use or leisure, or business or professional purposes was significantly associated with age (Kendallís tau-c = .148) and class (Kendallís tau-c = .123)
(Table 4).  Interestingly, juniors and those aged 21 were more likely to have created a video for business use than for any other purpose when compared to all other classes and ages.

YouTube usage in the classroom

Respondents were asked if they had ever seen a YouTube video used as a teaching tool in one of their classes.  Forty-seven percent (n =373) reported that they had while 53% (n = 427) had not.  Chi-square statistics revealed that this was significantly associated with gender (x2 = 10.43) (Table 5).  Of those who had seen a YouTube video used in a course, the majority (65%, n = 246) reported that the video was shown in-class versus only 5.5% (n = 21) of learners viewing them in their online courses.  Thirty percent (n = 113) did view YouTube videos in both in-class and online courses.  Of those who had viewed YouTube videos in class, 89% (n = 336) felt that the YouTube resource enhanced their learning experience and 73% (n = 581) felt that instructors should use YouTube videos to supplement their teaching and content in their courses.  Twenty-seven percent (n = 220) of students didnít recommend using YouTube in their courses (Table 3).


Limitations

One limitation of this study was that there may have been some respondent confusion on the intention of the last item: would you recommend that instructors consider using YouTube in their courses?  Respondents (27% recommended that YouTube not be used in their courses) may have been unclear on if the item was referring to YouTube viewing, versus creating and uploading a video to YouTube which are two different processes with the later being more difficult. 

Another limitation to this study was that the study is only representative of this Southeastern university sample and not generalisable to other areas or universities.  While other universities may have a similar demographic and culture as this specific university, more research needs to be conducted to determine if the findings from this study are similar to those from other universities.  It should also be noted that because of the small number of items in the instrumentation, results can only be generalized to shared studentís perceptions. 

Another limitation to consider is that studentsí perceptions were studied without exploring their increase in learning or performance in the classroom.  Future research will need to study studentsí learning or performance outcomes in the classroom correlated with their perceptions, the type of YouTube video or content, and how often the videos are used in the classroom.  Interviews, studentsí grades, and the type of university might be factors to consider when conducting this research.

Table 4
Frequency Distributions (n), Percentages (%), and Kendallís tau-c Values for Cross-tabulations of YouTube Usage by Gender, Age, Race, - Class Standing

Created for:

Age:

Class Use

Personal/Leisure Use

Business/Professional Use

Total

 

n

%

n

%

n

%

N

18

11

21.6

40

78.4

0

0

51

19

1

4.0

24

96.0

0

0

25

20

1

10.0

9

90.0

0

0

10

21

0

0

2

66.7

1

33.3**

3

22

0

0

3

100

0

0

3

25

0

0

1

100.0

0

0

1

Total

13

14.0

79

84.9

1

1.1

93

Kendallís tau-c = .15**

 

Created for:

Student Classification:


Class Use


Personal/Leisure Use


Business/Professional Use


Total

 

n

%

n

%

n

%

N

Freshman

11

19.6

45

80.4

0

0

56

Sophomore

1

3.7

26

96.3

0

0

27

Junior

1

11.1

7

77.8

1

11.1*

9

Senior

0

0

2

100

0

0

2

Other

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

13

13.8

80

85.1

1

1.1

94

Kendallís tau-c = .12*

Times per Week

Gender:

0-1

2-5

6-10

11+

Total

 

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

N

Male

121

44.2

98

35.8**

26

9.5**

29

10.6**

274

Female

396

74.4**

109

20.5

24

4.5

3

0.6

532

Total

517

64.1

207

25.7

50

6.2

32

4.0

806

Kendallís tau-c = .30**

Student
Classification:

Times per Week

0-1

 2-5

6-10

11+

Total

 

n

%

n

%

n

%

n

%

N

Freshman

328

66.8

124

25.3

29

5.9

10

2.0*

491

Sophomore

139

62.3

54

24.2

17

7.6

13

5.8

223

Junior

30

45.5

26

39.4*

4

6.1

6

9.1*

66

Senior

17

77.3

3

13.6

0

0

2

9.1

22

Other

3

75.0

1

25.0

0

0

0

0

4

Total

517

64.1

208

25.8

50

6.2

31

3.8

806

* = p < .05.  ** = p < .01.

Table 5
Frequency Distributions (n), Percentages (%), and Chi-square Values for Crosstabulations of YouTube Usage by Gender

 

Gender

Ever Searched or Watched a YouTube Link

Male

Female

Total

 

n

%

n

%

N

%

Yes

264

96.4

496

92.7

760

93.9

No

10

3.6

39

7.3

49

6.1

Total

274

 

535

 

809

 

Chi square = 4.22*

 

 

Gender

Ever Created Own YouTube Video

Male

Female

Total

 

n

%

n

%

N

%

Yes

46

16.8*

42

7.9*

88

10.9

No

227

83.2

492

92.1

719

89.1

Total

273

 

534

 

807

 

Chi square = 15.01**

 

 

Gender

Ever Seen Used as a Teaching Tool

Male

Female

Total

 

n

%

n

%

N

%

Yes

104

38.5

267

50.6

371

46.5

No

166

61.5

261

49.4

427

53.5

Total

270

 

528

 

798

 

Chi square = 10.43**

 

* = p < .05.  ** = p < .01.

 

Lastly, the sample was a convenience, non-randomized sample which may have impacted the studyís validity.  Findings from this study cannot be generalized since the majority of participants were 18-19 years of age, which compromising mostly freshmen (78%) is not completely representative of the students at this university, nor young adults in this region, state, or the nation.  Additionally, time and course constraints did not allow the establishment of reliability of the instrument.  Because this is a required general health course with preset research guidelines, instructors are only permitted to survey this population once per year.  This then does not allow the researchers to do a test-retest survey with these courses or any others.  This is a limitation that these researchers have considered and are looking at other piloting options for this instrument.

Conclusions

While more research is necessary, this initial study showed that YouTube may be a viable, innovative teaching resource to communicate important course or content information and for practicing with current technologies. Future research might explore the utility of YouTube as a learner tool to create and upload technology based presentations in a variety of settings. Regardless of the Internet-based video resource utilized, educators experienced with using these resources caution that it should not be used as a student ďbabysitter,Ē with the instructor assuming a passive role, but should instead take advantage of its interactive nature in the delivery of the video as well as in post-viewing and follow-up activities.  The potential power and utility of this new technology, in both in-class and online classrooms is promising, when managed by an involved instructor who is sufficiently skilled in its application.

The results of this study reveal that students are using YouTube at a high rate.  They feel that it is easy to use and they are using it for personal but public viewing.  Additionally, they feel that YouTube enhances their learning and want professors to use it in their courses.

Recommendations

Based on the conclusions of this study, there are three recommendations that can be made regarding the use of YouTube in the college classroom.

The first recommendation is that college professors should seek out professional development to learn how to use the YouTube technology and incorporate it into their classrooms.  Not only does this study support this recommendation because students recommend that professors use it and they feel it enhances their learning but also because only slightly less than half of the students said they had ever seen it used as a teaching tool.  Additionally, the National Education Association endorses this recommendation in its position statement on technology and education (NEA, n.d.).  By providing and encouraging college professors to seek out professional development on the use of YouTube and how to incorporate it into their classrooms, they will be able to develop course material, lectures, and teaching strategies that are more prepared for the Web 2.0 generation. 

The second recommendation derived from this study is for departments or units within the university to support the use of YouTube and other technologies in professorsí classrooms.  This support can come in a variety of different ways: include verbal support of incorporating YouTube in courses at faculty meetings, written support through memos or emails sent to all faculty at the beginning of the semester when courses are being developed, and provide opportunities for faculty members to attend technology workshops or conferences where new technologies are learned.

For example, a YouTube library is being developed in which faculty will be trained to use it as a resource in their classrooms.  The library will hold a list of YouTube links that are good sources for use in health related courses at the college level.  Faculty training will not only teach faculty how to use the YouTube library but how to incorporate YouTube in their classrooms as a way to enhance student learning. 

The last recommendation is to incorporate more YouTube videos within college courses.  Students who reported seeing YouTube videos in their courses felt that the videos did increase their learning and they suggested that professors use more YouTube videos.  Thus, including more YouTube videos directly related to learning within the classroom may have a positive impact on what students learn.  Although more research needs to be conducted regarding the type of YouTube videos used, how often the videos are used, and the increase in student performance after seeing the videos, this study implies that using YouTube in the classroom is a positive idea. 

Instructors do need to be aware however that there is inappropriate content on YouTube.  Therefore precaution must be taken in order to ensure valid, reliable, and appropriate videos are shown in class.  It is recommended that all videos be previewed by the instructor before showing them in class. 

References

Beldarrain Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster
student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27, 139-153.

Downes, S.  (n.d.).  E-learning 2.0.  Retrieved June 19, 2008, from
 http://elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=29-1

Educause. (2006). Educause Learning Initiative: 7 things you should know about YouTube.
 Retrieved August 26, 2007 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7018.pdf.

Edwards, H. (2007, March 11). Crackdown on mobile phone use in schools.
The Sun Herald, p. 35.

Frey, B. A., & Burnbaum, D. J.  (2002).  Learnersí perceptions on the value of PowerPoint in lectures.  ERIC Document Reproduction Service; ED 467192.

Jones, S., & Johnson-Yale, C.  (2005).  Professors online: The Internetís impact on college faculty.  Retrieved April 17, 2008, from http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/jones/index.html

Jones, S., & Madden, M.  (2002).  The Internet goes to college.  Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project.  Retrieved April 17, 2008, from http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_College_Report.pdf

Lee, M. , & McLoughlin, C. (2007). Teaching and learning in the Web 2. 0 era: Empowering students through learner-generated content. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. Retrieved February 25, 2008 from
 http://itdl.org/Journal/Oct_07/article02.htm.

NEA: National Education Association.  (n.d.).  Technology and education.  Retrieved February 12, 2008, from http://www.nea.org/technology/index.html?mode=print.

Palmer S, Graham G, & Elliot E. (2005). Effects of a web-based health program on fifth grade
 children's physical activity knowledge, attitudes and behavior. American Journal of
 Health Education,36, 86-94.

PEW Internet & American Life Project.  (2007).  Teens and social media.  Retrieved June 19, 2008, from http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/230/report_display.asp.

Web Analytics Association.  (2006).  Google.com tops list of college studentsí favorite
 websitesóBut only through purchase of YouTube.com.  Retrieved April 18, 2008, from http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org/en/releases/printview.asp?releaseid=60.

YouTube. About YouTube, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from
 http://www.youtube.com/t/about.

 

About the Authors

Shonna L. Snyder, Ph.D., CHES, received her doctorate in Health Education Pedagogy from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.  She is currently Assistant Professor of Health Education at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.  She obtained a B.S. in Secondary Education in Health and Physical Education from Wilmington College of Ohio and an M.Ed. in Health Promotion and Education from the University of Cincinnati. 

Dr. Snyderís interests are in the areas of professional preparation and development of teachers, Coordinated School Health Programs, Comprehensive School Health Education (CSHE), health teachersí needs and capacity for teaching CSHE, the effectiveness of school health education, and utilizing technology in the classroom.  Dr. Snyder was a member of the Indiana Health Education Standards Committee and currently serves on the North Carolina HOSA Board of Directors.  Dr. Snyder is a member of and participates in many professional health organizations at the state and national levels. 

Email: snydersh@ecu.edu


Sloane Christine Burke Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Education and Promotion at East Carolina University. Dr. Burke has over 10 years of experience in course development, curriculum design, assessment, accreditation, and university instruction, and has taught various (over 20) undergraduate- and graduate-level public health courses, both in class and online.  Prior to coming to ECU, she co-created, developed, and administered the first ever B.S. in Health Studies online program at Texas Womanís University. Dr. Burke has 11 years experience in course development, curriculum design, assessment, accreditation, and university instruction specifically in Community Health from the University of North Texas, Texas Womanís University, Capella University, and East Carolina University using a variety of platforms and instructional design methods. She has research publications on implementing innovative technology in the online classroom environment. 

Dr. Burke holds a Ph.D. in Health Studies with a concentration in Community Health and an MS in Health Promotion, and is a Certified Health Education Specialist.  She has been an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), American Association for Health Education (AAHE), and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).

Email: burkes@ecu.edu

 


 
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