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Editor’s Note: The media sophistication of the majority of students (dare we say K through Grad School) ) is a given. Clear standards for evaluation of efficacy of these student projects need to be established.

Using YouTube in the Classroom: A How-To Guide

Shonna L. Snyder, Sloane Burke

Keywords: YouTube, technology, E-learning Learning Resource, online, education, distance education, video, distance learning, classroom, students, secondary education, higher education, college.


Founded in 2005, YouTube has quickly become a leader in online media.  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).

Creative teaching strategies that incorporate innovative technology motivate and engage learners who are technology savvy and are accustomed to the online environment.  Using a variety of instructional methods and learning activities in the classroom or via distance education courses creates an enriched learning environment for the student (Beldarrain, 2006). 

An innovative approach is 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).  

Creating content for YouTube also allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the course material as students are engaging in new, innovative technology applications as well as processing content.  YouTube has the potential to expose learners to new insights and skills such as technology-based resources, as well as engage students in social networking (Educause, 2006; Lee & McLoughlin, 2007).  YouTube also provides a platform for middle and high school students to learn the fundamentals of project creation and presentation which serve to better prepare learners for skills needed in college.  YouTube provides college learners with innovative teaching and education strategies they will most likely be using in their future respective fields.

Target Audience

This teaching idea is designed for middle school through college students.  The rigor of the rubric may be altered to become more demanding as the grade level increases.  The technique can be used in any course whether it be face-to-face, hybrid, or completely online.

A Lesson Plan to Accommodate U-Tube

The lesson idea that follows could be included in a unit or lesson and incorporated in educational content areas such as health education, science, math, history, or social studies.  It could follow lessons on accessing valid information, products and services, analyzing influences, and/or media literacy or used as a platform for learners to present their final course projects.  The teacher could adapt or reconfigure this lesson to address the standards that are applicable to their curriculum.

That the Lesson Intends to Accomplish

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Utilize video creation software.
  2. Select appropriate materials to utilize in their YouTube presentations.
  3. Utilize YouTube to create and communicate a message related to a class topic through media.
  4. Utilize YouTube to present information to classmates.
  5. Critically analyze peer presentations for appropriate content and communication skills using a scoring rubric.

Materials and Resources for the Lesson

Each student must have access to a computer with an Internet connection, either at home or school, to complete the project.  The computer must also have some form of movie maker software.  Many computers are already equipped with Microsoft Movie Maker or iMovie.  Depending on the type of project the student chooses to complete, the student may also need access to a video camera.  Teachers will copy the YouTube Step-by-Step Instructions (Figure 1) and YouTube Project Rubric (Figure 2) for each student.  A sample YouTube video demonstrating what the finished product (the project) will look like should be available to show in the classroom.  For some sample demonstrations, go to www. youtube. com and type in the topic of choice in the search box. 

Procedures of the Lesson

Step 1

Teacher Preparation. Teachers will follow the YouTube Step-by-Step Instructions to create their own YouTube video. This YouTube video clip should be an example that students will model as they complete their projects. This will also give the teacher time to become familiar and comfortable with the software used to create the video as well as the YouTube website. After becoming familiar with the methods of creating a YouTube project, the teacher should be able to answer any student questions that arise. The teacher may also use his/her created sample project within the lessons prior to assigning the student project.

If the teacher is a novice at computer technology and the Internet, he/she may consult their school’s information technology consultant. Frequently this is the computer teacher in the K-12 school setting.

Limitation: it is important to note that not all materials posted on YouTube are appropriate, valid, or reliable and therefore the teacher must take precautions so that students are being monitored and have an understanding of the appropriateness, validity and reliability of the message(s). Previous lessons that cover media literacy and/or accessing valid and reliable information, products and services will help students determine if the content they are viewing is worthy of being emulated or utilized as a message. It is also important to incorporate the family in this project at the K-12 level to help monitor student usage of YouTube.

Teachers could monitor K-12 students by having a designated class or class time to search for content that would be used in their presentations. Students could also be limited to only searching on prior approved websites. For example, if this was being used in a health education course, some prior approved sites might be www. cdc. gov or www. who. gov. 

Some students may have very limited experience with this technology; therefore, students will need to become familiar with creating, downloading, and possibly editing their own video footage from either a camcorder, digital camera, webcam, or phone to their PC.  Group projects are encouraged as students with various experience levels can learn from each other.  The function of each of these devices varies so each learner is encouraged to explore their own equipment capabilities and the functions of editing software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. 


  1. First you will need to create your movie and save it as a file that can be uploaded to YouTube.  To do this you have two options.

a.     Option 1: You need to have a device that can capture digital movies such as a camcorder, webcam, or digital camera. You can then copy the movies or presentations to your computer, and then either upload them as-is or edit them with software such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to add titles and special effects such as adding music, documents, and photos to your video.

b.     Option 2: You can use iMovie or Windows Movie Maker to create a movie using Power Point, pictures and music downloaded from your computer or the Internet. 

  1. Next, you will need to create an account on YouTube.  Minimal information is required and the account is free of charge.

  2. In your account, click on the “Upload Video” icon found in the upper right hand corner of YouTube.

  3. Enter your video title, description, and tags (key words to describe your video).

  4. Choose your broadcast option.  Students should choose “private” (only shared with 25 members) so the instructor can keep the presentation for the class members only versus the general public.

  5. Include date and location of when the video was created (optional).

  6. Choose the sharing option which allows users to leave comments and rate the video.  This may be a good method to allow peers to comment on other YouTube presentations, especially in an online course.

  7. Click next.

  8. Browse your system files for your created video and upload it.  YouTube disclaimer: Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts, or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself.

  9. Uploads usually take 1-5 minutes per MB on a high-speed connection, and converting your video takes a few minutes.  The video is limited to 10 minutes and 100 MB.

  10. Share the URL for presentations and viewing. 

  11. The video will be saved to your, “My Videos” folder for future presentations and viewing. 

Figure 1: YouTube Step-by-Step Instructions for Students (YouTube, 2007)

The teacher will present the following assessment criteria and rating scale to students prior to presentation as part of the project description and requirements:

Rating Scale

Utilized video creation software


Student utilized video creation software to create original media that had not been previously produced or created.


Uploaded video presentation to YouTube.


YouTube video and audio presentation was played with minimal technical difficulties.




0 = Did Not Attempt 1 = Attempted 3 = Met All Expectations 4 = Completed Beyond Expectations


Communicated a message through media


Created a presentation that provides the audience with information about the topic.


Utilized YouTube to present information to the class.


Provided a verbal introduction of the video presentation prior to showing the presentation to the class.


Provided a verbal conclusion to the video presentation after showing the presentation to the class.


Effectively answered peer questions regarding the presentation.












Effectively navigated the Internet to access information.


Utilized the Internet to find information about the topic.


Internet sites met the criteria of “valid and reliable” as discussed in class.


Used at least three different Internet sites to create presentation.


All resource information was referenced on a reference page/slide.










Advocated for an issue by utilizing media


Created a presentation that persuaded the audience.


Created a presentation that persuaded the audience to encourage others.








Figure 2. YouTube Project Rubric

 Step 2

Technology Preparation.  Teachers will need to reserve a school computer lab if their classroom is not equipped with enough computers for each student.  The computers will need to be equipped with movie maker software (e. g. , Windows Movie Maker, iMovie).  Students could also be placed in groups to complete the project if computer availability is an issue or the instructor wants to create a collaborative learning experience.  If applicable, learners can also work collaboratively with their group at home to create the YouTube presentation.  Instructors should incorporate this time consideration when creating their lesson plan. 

Additionally, teachers will want to determine if their school has blocked the usage of YouTube in their school.  This is a common occurrence among schools since there have been many public incidents surrounding school students displayed on YouTube involving bullying and other mischievous behaviors (Crampton, 2007; Edwards, 2007).  If teachers have been blocked by their school or school district, they may need to speak with administration about the availability of prior approved sites being used in their classrooms for learning. 

Step 3

Review/Re-teach.  Before providing an overview of the project requirements, the instructor should introduce, discuss and define the content and skills related to the topic at hand and provide examples.  For example, if this project is occurring in an environmental health unit/class, the teacher may discuss how the media sends messages regarding the greenhouse effect through various media channels (i. e. , Al Gore produced a movie about global warming).  The teacher may reiterate that these messages may influence viewers to begin riding bikes to school instead of driving cars.  The teacher would also discuss how a student may advocate for others to begin riding their bikes to school.  After reviewing and re-teaching when appropriate, the teacher would introduce the student project and explain that the media to be used to send the message will be YouTube. 

Step 4

Student Project.  The teacher will provide an overview of the project to the students before they go to the computer lab or their home to work on the YouTube project.  The teacher will reinforce the skills of accessing valid information, advocacy, and communication and presentation skills.  These are skills that the students will need to incorporate into their project.  Next, the teacher will distribute the YouTube Step-by-Step Instructions (Figure 1) and the YouTube Project Rubric (Figure 2) to the students to use to complete the project and also discuss how students will be assessed.

Instructors should ensure ample time for the creation of this project and also be sure they are available for technical questions as they arise.  If provided time to work on the projects in class, students will also inquire and learn from their peers.  As a general guideline, teachers should provide two weeks for students to create, edit, and upload their project to YouTube.  Prior to the upload and final presentation of the project students should submit their project to the teacher for review for accuracy and appropriateness of content.  If the teacher’s course is online, it is recommended that a discussion board for this assignment be provided to learners to post technical questions on the process.  Students may be assigned a topic or the teacher may allow them to choose their own topic.  The topic should relate to the unit of instruction.

Assessment Technique

Students will share their YouTube videos in class or online with their teacher and classmates on a scheduled date.  The teacher will highlight key points of the YouTube video created by the students to facilitate discussion between learners during class time.  Key points may include media messaging, advocacy, concepts related to the chosen topic, or any content that is important and relevant to the learning unit or final project.  The instructor may also want to host a separate discussion about the experience of creating a YouTube video and encourage other learners to compare their experiences with those shared.  Learners will be graded based on the YouTube Project Rubric.  The teacher may also create a rubric modified from Figure 2 that allows students to evaluate their classmates’ presentations.


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

Crampton, T.  (2007, March 4).  A global drive to stop cyber-bullying.  The International Herald Tribune, p. 3.

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.

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.

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.

YouTube.  (2007).  Upload New Video, 2007.  Retrieved on September 20, 2007
from http://www. youtube. com/t/about

About the Authors

Shonna L. Snyder, Ph. D. , CHES

Shonna L. Snyder received her Ph. D. in Health Education Pedagogy from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.  She is currently an 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. Snyder’s interests are in the areas of professional preparation and development of teachers, Coordinated School Health Programs, Comprehensive School Health Education (CSHE), health teachers’ 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. 

snydersh@ecu. edu

Sloane Burke, Ph. D. , CHES

Sloane Christine Burke 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 Woman’s 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 Woman’s 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).

burkes@ecu. edu

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