I have to admit to sometimes being puzzled by the generation gap when it comes to video. My two sons, one of whom is in high school and the other in elementary school (or primary school as we call it in the UK), find that it’s their preferred way of learning online.

Instead of googling something they want to research or discover, they’ll go straight to YouTube and search there. Where I’d be skimming written text and images or diagrams, they’re working their way through an entire video.

Maybe I’m too impatient – I want to skim some text and get right to the bit I need. They want to enjoy a video in full even if most of it isn’t about the thing they searched for in the first place. It could be a reflection on the amount of time we’ve got available to his, or on their patience, or maybe just on what each of us is used to.

youtube - search for education

Kids love using YouTube to learn

But there’s no escaping the irresistible allure of video for young learners.

So how can you harness that allure in the classroom and when communicating online with your students and the wider community? In this post I’m going to look at how you can use video to enhance learning and improve your school website, and show you just how to do it.

The Benefits of Video for Learning

First let’s take a look at how video can enhance learning both in the classroom and outside it. Educators have been using video to enhance learning for as long as TV’s been available – from the days when classrooms full of kids would file into the hall to watch live TV, or have a TV wheeled into their classroom on a trolley, through the rise of sites like teachers.tv, right up to the present when YouTube is one of many teachers’ favourite resources.

Using video as part of teaching gives learners the opportunity to see places and concepts that it would be difficult to access in the classroom or even on field trips. Students learning about other cultures or world geography, as well as those learning astronomy, will be able to watch images of places you couldn’t possibly take them to. They’ll have access to animations, demonstrations and simulations that might be difficult or expensive to set up yourself, for example when learning about mechanics or biology. And students of literature or drama can watch dramatisations of texts that you’re studying in class, often bringing it to life in a way that’s difficult to do otherwise.

Of course video isn’t a panacea – it has to be supported by other teaching methods including analysis of what’s been watched, asking for learners’ reactions and putting what they’ve watched in context. But used well, it can be a valuable tool both in the classroom and outside it. Homework assignments can include watching video for research, making notes or analysing the content of a video, or planning how students might make their own version.

Which brings me to the other way in which video can help with learning: by encouraging students to make or appear in their own videos. In the school where I’m on the governing board, children from as young as five take part in filmed activities and can then watch themselves again, reinforcing their learning and providing entertainment too. The older students film and edit their own videos, which can help with them learn skills including photography, animation, editing and scriptwriting. Watching themselves deliver a presentation or dramatisation will help them see where they can improve much more effectively than oral feedback form the teacher or other students will, too.

So video is a great tool for learning. But it’s also part of your arsenal when it comes to using the school website to communicate with parents and other stakeholders.

Enhancing Your School Or Teacher Website with Video

What happens to the video you create or use in class? It probably stays on a recording device somewhere, if it’s video you’ve created, or maybe gets uploaded to the school network. If it’s a video you’ve watched or set as homework, it’s probably forgotten about afterwards.

But if you use your school website to showcase the video you’re using and watching, that can add an extra dimension to your site and provide students, parents and other stakeholders with an insight into what students are learning.

If you’re using third party video it’s important to check that you have permission to reproduce it: YouTube has a standard set of rights for the vast majority of its videos that allows you to embed those videos on your own site, streaming them via YouTube. And if you created the video in class you won’t have copyright problems but you will need to check with students or their parents that you’ve got permission to put video of them on the school website. Get this in writing for photos and video at the beginning of each school year.

If you’re creating your own video it’s a good idea to set up a YouTube channel and then stream your video from that, instead of uploading it directly to your website. This saves server space and ensures that anyone visiting the site will be able to watch the video, no matter what device they’re using. It also gives you an additional way for people to find your video and your website, via YouTube.

Playlists will help you categorise your videos and point students to the ones they need to watch. Most people don’t know that you can add someone else’s video to your own playlist in YouTube. meaning you can create curated lists of videos for students which they can access directly on YouTube or you can stream via your school’s site. So your playlists can include a mix of your own videos and other ones you’ve found on YouTube.

How to Incorporate Video in Your Website

So we’ve established that video is a good thing, for learning and for your website. Now I’m going to show you how to set up a YouTube channel, add videos to it, and stream these via your website. I’ll also show you how to add playlists for your own and third party videos.

Creating a YouTube Account

If your school doesn’t already have a YouTube account, the first step is to set one up. You may choose to have one account for the whole school or institution, or you may choose to create accounts for each faculty. If you do have an account for the whole institution, you can use playlists to separate things out by faculty or subject area, or you can create multiple channels using one single account.

To use YouTube, you’ll need a Google account. If you don’t already have one, setting one up is free – got to the Google sign up page and follow the instructions.

creating a google account

Note: If you already have a personal Google account, don’t use this. You may run into issues around the ownership of the video and won’t be able to share the channel with other staff.

Once you’ve created your account, you’ll see a confirmation screen with your new gmail address:

google screen post account creation

Click on the Continue button to configure your security and privacy settings. Now click on the grid of squares in the top right hand corner to access a list of all the google services available to you:

selecting google services form the grid at the top of the screen

Click on the YouTube icon (the red play button) to access YouTube. Click the Sign In button on the top right: your gmail account will be linked to a YouTube account and you’ll be ready to go:

main youtube screen with account added

Setting Up Your Channel

Next you’ll need to set up your channel. Click in the Your Channel link in the left hand menu in YouTube. You’ll be prompted to state what name you’ll use for your channel:

specifying the name you'll use for your channel

Now you’ll see your channel:

an empty new channel ion YouTube

Spend some time adding channel art (images) and a description.

Uploading Video

You have two options for uploading video to YouTube:

  • Via the YouTube website.
  • By connecting your video editing software or recording device to your YouTube account.

Which you choose to do will depend on your workflow. You’ll find that most video recording and editing software lets you link directly to YouTube and export your video straight form the software to your YouTube channel. This includes iPhones and iPads if you’re using those to record video.

I won’t cover that in detail here as it will depend on your software. Instead I’ll show you how to upload a video via the YouTube website.

Uploading a video is very simple. Just click the Upload a Video link on your channel screen, or the Upload button in the top right corner of all YouTube screens when you’re logged in:

uploading a video to YouTube - the opening screen

You have a few options:

  • Uploading video from your computer
  • Importing video from Google Photos
  • Creating a live stream
  • Creating a photo slideshow
  • Editing video

Let’s start by uploading a video. Click the button in the middle of the upload pane and select the video file you want to upload from your computer. Youtube will then start uploading the video and provide you with a screen where you can edit the video’s information:

editing a video as you upload it

Once the video has uploaded you’ll see a few stills from it at the bottom of the screen: choose the best one. Then click the Publish button at the top right.

And that’s it! Here’s my published video:

published video

Creating a Playlist and Adding Video to It

You can create a playlist for the video as you upload it by clicking the Add to playlist button in the upload screen. This gives you the option to create a new playlist, and once you’ve got playlists, it’ll let you add your video to an existing one:

adding a video to a playlist

When you’ve typed in the playlist’s name, click the Create button to create it.

Alternatively once your video is live you can click the Add to button below the video in its playback screen, to add it to one or more of your playlists:

adding a published video to a playlist

You can also add a new playlist from here. You can add a single video to as many playlists as you want – so for example you could have playlists for each year group and for each subject or faculty, and add videos to the relevant year group and subject playlists.

You can also add any existing YouTube video to one of your playlists in exactly the same way, helping students to find videos on YouTube that will support their learning.

Embedding Your Video in Your Website

The final step is to embed your video in your Edublogs or CampusPress site. You’ll be pleased to know that this is very easy to do.

Open the page or post to which you want to add the video. In the editing pane, find the post in the content where you want to embed the video. Make sure it’s on a line of its own.

Now go back to your YouTube video and copy its url. You can do this by right-clicking on the video and selecting Copy video URL:

copying a video's url from youtube

Then go back to your post and paste that URL into the post. Your copied text will immediately disappear and be replaced by the video:

embedding a video in a post

Publish or update your post or page in the normal way and you’ll see that the video is embedded into the live post so that anyone can watch it or go to YouTube to do so:

video embedded in a post

You can add as many videos to each page or post as you like, so you could create a page for a class and add a number of videos for them. Or you might find it easier to add a category for each class, subject or year group, and group your video posts that way.

Making the Most of Video is Simpler than You Think

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to make more use of video in your teaching and on your school website. As you can see, creating a YouTube channel, uploading video to it and embedding that in your school website isn’t difficult.

You’ll find that if you’re using a device like an iPhone or iPad to create videos, you can upload your video directly to YouTube. And adding that to your site is just a matter of copying the URL. It will give you an easy way for students to find the video that links to your curriculum and for parents to see what’s been happening in the classroom.

About Rachel McCollin

I'm a WordPress developer, writer and instructor based in Birmingham, UK. I'm also a parent and school governor and include schools among my clients, so helping schools and educational institutions to make best use of the Internet is important to me. When I'm not building websites, writing or in a school governors' meeting, I'm normally with my two boys, admiring their Minecraft creations, creating Scratch projects, trying to get them off YouTube or relaxing in front of Big Bang Theory.