Using YouTube to Enhance Student Engagement

Technology is everywhere. Some people are addicted to it and refuse to live without it. College students will say that their laptop, phone, and iPod are necessities comparable to food. So how can professors remove these technological items from the hands of the student and still keep them engaged in class discussions? Through another form of widely used technology: YouTube. Students enjoy viewing and sharing visual content online. Visual tools create a connection between the content and viewer (McKenzie, 2008). Many videos on YouTube are academic and professional in nature and when used properly will reinforce classroom discussions and engage college students due to the images and audio used (Cardine, 2008).

If this is so, how can this form of technology not be effective in academic learning? When videos incorporate humor, they usually are even more effective making the student eager to see, and learn, more. Hence, students are paying attention. They ask questions. They make knowledgeable comments. This all helps fuel an interactive class discussion.

On numerous occasions, I have used YouTube to drive home a point, expose students to new material, or to have them create debates on the topic. With whatever the outcome was, I was assured that they understood the material and would retain it better than me lecturing to them the entire class period.

Of course a combination of resources is optimal to use but visual aids always seem to make a great impact in conjunction with traditional learning tools. With videos, students can see a scenario, hear from an expert, see images, and listen to conversations that will make the content they are learning more understandable and relevant. In many instances, students experience the “Ah Ha” moment that all teachers get ecstatic about.

I have used videos from YouTube for marketing, management, and entrepreneurial courses and students found them interesting, informative, and funny. Many will ask if video will be used again in future lectures because they were excited about what the video brought to the discussion. I, too, like the excitement this visual aid brings to the classroom. It can be energizing not only for the student but the professor as well. After all, who likes a mundane, redundant process each day? The classroom shouldn’t be so. It is a place where learning, engagement, and creativity is born and dwells. It should be an exciting place to be. Videos give classroom discussion that extra something to keep the students enthralled in their environment. Ultimately, videos assist in the learning process through student engagement. Plainly stated, this tool works.

Dr. Michelle Harris is an Assistant Professor of Management at Paine College.

Cardine, S. (2008). Is education ready for YouTube? Converge.

McKenzie, J. (2008).
Breaking the YouTube blockade. From Now On.

Here are a few of the videos I’ve used in my courses.

Business Ethics:

Organizational Change: Scenarios A&B: