An effective e-learning tool

Last Updated : 29 June 2016, 19:56 IST
Last Updated : 29 June 2016, 19:56 IST

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Conventional teaching tools have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Schools have gone from blackboards and chalk to whiteboards with dry erase markers — and in some places, from textbooks to laptops that place a wide range of up-to-date information at students’ fingertips.

One of the latest developments in the education world is the growing use of YouTube, the popular video sharing website where any user can upload and share videos of every possible kind. The first thing that many people associate with YouTube is that it is an easy and convenient way to view music videos, television or movie clips. Meanwhile, it is also becoming clear that YouTube has much more potential than that. Many incredibly talented people have been discovered through YouTube, but more significantly, it is now beginning to make a name for itself as a hugely convenient and versatile tool for many teachers to use in the classroom.

Committed to help students
YouTube is similar to Wikipedia in that it is comprised entirely of user-uploaded content, meaning that a good amount of it might not be reliable, verifiable or appropriate. A teacher could spend hours searching through the website and not find any content that is legitimate, accurate, unbiased and appropriate to show to a classroom. However, YouTube can still be considered a worthy teaching aid. Like every other form of educational tool, it is also a double-edged sword.

Here are some of its many advantages: n Adding YouTube videos to your e-learning course is an easy task due to the variety of authoring tools and learning management systems out there. You can use YouTube videos to introduce a topic, explain an online activity, motivate your learners, or simply extend the information conveyed by a course.
n Everyone gets a voice in YouTube. Using it as a social learning platform offers you the opportunity to build a strong e-learning community where everyone can comment, contribute and share their opinions and ideas.

Learning videos are particularly effective facilitators for analysis. After viewing a YouTube video, you can encourage online discussion by asking your learners to add their personal insights: What did they like about the video? Was there anything they didn’t understand? You can also ask them to share other YouTube video references to extend online discussions, as video enhanced e-learning courses increase interest and engagement levels by presenting different perspectives.

Uploading e-learning content to YouTube makes it available throughout the YouTube network, which means that  learners can access it and view it on the go via their smartphones and tablets, devices used in mobile learning.

How about short, effective instructional videos on YouTube? Using videos for microlearning ensures that complex procedures and demonstrations of specific skills are delivered in small quantities, which enhances knowledge retention. Furthermore, because YouTube is available on all devices and allows your learners to watch longer e-learning videos in short segments, your audience can watch the videos whenever they like and take their own time to absorb the information being offered.

Note-taking skills are important both for students and employees, as the ability to analyse information and focus on important points helps dealing with the information overload of the modern world. Using YouTube videos as part of e-learning course encourages audience to develop their note-taking skills by viewing, rewinding, and replaying the YouTube video material until they have fully grasped its essence and key points.

Using YouTube as a virtual library to support e-learning content by providing learners with access to its videos allows a teacher to better illustrate complex concepts, procedures, and ideas. Visual contexts help learners easily acquire and retain knowledge, as well as develop specific skill sets, as demonstration is the most effective way to get a message across.

As the 21st century unfolds, we are seeing a shift from the campus-based model of education that has endured for ages to an open, anywhere anytime model. On-demand video is a disruptive technology that is providing a flexible new way of delivering education that will require some adaptive thinking from higher education providers if they are to survive this period of change.

It will be the agile institutions that survive and flourish, the ones that find ways to successfully leverage technology to deliver high-quality education to increasingly busy and mobile students. Free, video-on-demand platforms like YouTube and TED-Ed that are flexibility designed into them will be an integral part of the educational landscape of the future. Knowledge does not need to be delivered solely by teachers, nor do learning environments need to be teacher-centric.

(The author is professor, Christ University, Bengaluru)

Published 29 June 2016, 15:27 IST

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