Don’t Understand the Textbook, Use YouTube

Don’t Understand the Textbook, Use YouTube

By Madelyn Collins

Pursuing a journalism and electronic media major at the University of Tennessee. Teach and perform dance on the side as a living.


Generation Z students are putting down textbooks and clicking on YouTube to find the answers they need in a recent study.

YouTube is a video-sharing website with, according to Omicore’s 2017 article, “YouTube by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts,” 50 million users are creating shared content around the world. This is 300 hours’ worth of content uploaded per minute every day. Among the millions of videos teachers, students, and educational enthusiasts have become viral for their tutorials and self-help crash courses. Channels like Khan Academy, a non-profit YouTube channel dedicated to sharing education globally, have a rising subscription number of 4,203,912. Numerous educators are hopping on to the video platform to share their knowledge and students are following.

The Pearson study reported 60% of Gen Z preferred using YouTube as a learning tool over traditional methods. 55% of those who participated in the study also attributed YouTube to helping their education. Pearson’s director of global research and insights, Peter Broad, told “Education Week”, “They [students] want to learn as quickly as possible…” and YouTube videos are “short and easily digestible”.

If the traditional classroom is not serving your needs, here are a few channels that may offer a better way to learn.

1. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a channel that offers course videos in multiple subjects, from physics and chemistry to history and grammar. Videos range from 5 – 15 minutes long. Lessons are precise and straight to the point. The video-sharing platform also doubles as an interactive learning website, khanacademy.org. The channel translates all their resources into multiple languages in order for their site to be globally accessible.

2. CrashCourse

CrashCourse is a channel started by the Green brothers, Hank Green and “The Fault in Our Stars” writer, John Green, as a humanities and social science teaching platform. The channel has now expanded to offer a variety of lessons taught by different educators. The videos are brightly colored and come to life with fun animation. The channel adds jokes and skits for the students who grow easily bored with traditional teaching.

3. TED

TED is a channel that shares their global conferences for free. Commonly called TED Talks, lecturers have 18 minutes to share their message to the audience. TED invites lecturers on different topics to speak and it is a great resource to grasp a deeper understanding of a concept. TED licenses their videos under Creative Commons, which means all of their content is sharable. The channel posts new videos every weekday.

4. Bozeman Science

Bozeman Science, as the name applies, is all about science. Paul Andersen, an educator for 20 years, created the channel. YouTube named him Edu Guru in 2012 and was one of the four finalists of the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. His videos go in-depth into all types of topics in science and his videos rack up tons of views, like his video of the tour of a human cell with over 2 million views. Andersen has videos that can help both students and educators succeed.

5. How to Adult

This channel markets the subjects they do not teach students in school. The videos are light-hearted and amusing, and can easily tackle difficult subjects. Topics can range from how to pay taxes, changing a tire, and how to apply for a job. The channel to date has stopped making new content, but there are still hundreds of videos to choose from.

YouTube is not all funny cats and music videos. There are endless educational videos available for students to watch.

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