YouTube used for more than just cat videos

A foolproof way to procrastinate is by going on YouTube and spending hours watching videos of cats, video games, babies… this list goes on.

But while some videos cause homework to go unfinished for hours, others serve as a second set of teachers for SCDS students.

Watching videos on the channels Khan Academy and Crash Course is now a common way for students to prepare for tests and better understand material.

Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan. In 2006, Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard, quit his job and began to post tutorials explaining math and science on YouTube.

Khan’s goal was to make education more accessible to people, free of charge.

Since its founding, Khan Academy has expanded to include videos on mathematics, history, health care, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economy, cosmology, civics, art history and computer science.

Junior Micaela Bennett-Smith says she often goes on Khan Academy when she doesn’t understand a concept in math class.

Junior Dominic Stephen does, too.

“(Khan Academy) is how I survive Millsback’s (AP Calculus) class,” junior Dominic Stephen said.

And junior Melissa Vazquez said she has relied heavily on Khan Academy this year to understand derivatives.

While many use Khan Academy for math, Crash Course videos are used mainly to study for biology and history.

Crash Course videos are created by brothers John (author of “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Looking for Alaska”) and Hank Green. They entered YouTube with the channel VlogBrothers, where they talked about all sorts of random topics through vlogs (video blogs).

Crash Course was part of YouTube’s $100 million original channel initiative, videos funded by Google to bring “original” content to YouTube.

Although Country Day students primarily use the biology and U.S. history Crash Course videos, there are also ones on literature, chemistry, ecology and world history. The brothers add two new subjects every six months. Hank recently started their most recent video series on psychology.

Senior Sarah Wilks and junior Melissa Vazquez regularly watch the 10-15 minute biology videos.

“It takes a lot less attention span to watch a video versus reading something,” Vazquez said. “It’s hard for me to pay attention when I read.”

Wilks said she finds the Crash Course videos beneficial because the diagrams and illustrations help her remember concepts.

Junior Clare Fina said she uses the biology videos to visualize cell processes such as meiosis.

Students in AP U.S. History watch John’s history videos. “(John Green) is really fun- ny, and it doesn’t feel like I am reading from a textbook,” said senior Savannah Symister, who watched the Crash Course U.S. history videos last year.

Junior Anna Wiley said she watches John’s history videos before tests to help get a big picture of the concepts and because of his humor.

SCDS high-school students using YouTube for educational purposes is a fairly recent development.

Lily Kramlich-Taylor, ‘10, does not recall ever using YouTube in high school, except occasionally in World Cultures.

“Back in the day teachers would roll in the television when they wanted to show us things,” Kramlich-Taylor said.

Mackenzie Mason, ‘10, said that she and her friends never used YouTube in high school except to look up the occasional music video.

However, Mason and Kramlich-Taylor said they’ve been using YouTube for education in college the past couple years. As students began to use YouTube to study, teachers also started incorporating videos into their curriculum.

Math teacher Patricia Jacobsen has integrated Khan Academy into her curriculum over the past two years.

Last year she required all her students to make Khan Academy accounts so she could track their progress and recommend skills they should work on.

“If students don’t understand how I explained something or if they were absent, they can watch a little eight-minute video at home and then try their homework,” Jacobsen said.

If Jacobsen is absent, she asks students to spend 30 minutes on Khan Academy instead of leaving them with worksheets.

Jacobsen uses the YouTube videos not only to teach her students but also to gain clarification on something she herself does not understand.

“I don’t know how to use my calculator, so I have actually had to search on YouTube how to use a TI-89, and I think a lot of kids do that too,” Jacobsen said.

About once a week, biology teacher Kellie Whited assigns her AP Biology students 5-10 minute videos from Bozeman Science by Paul Anderson, a high-school biology teacher.

“I use the videos from Paul Anderson as a refresher course of prerequisite materials to see if (the students) remember it or if they need to go back and do more work,” Whited said.

Whited has been using these videos as part of her curriculum since the beginning of last year. She said she likes to use them because they save time for labs and hands-on activities.

History teacher Bruce Baird has been using YouTube in class since a projector was installed in his classroom.

In addition to giving visual learners a way to better understand concepts, Baird said he often learns something new, even after having watched the videos two or three times.

“You can talk about the New Deal until you’re blue in the face,” Baird said. “Why not let people hear it and see faces?”

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