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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Team Teaching with YouTube

We've often heard the saying, "Everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten." It's supposed to be a humorous view of how the education system teaches the fundamentals early on and then fills the remainder of a student's time with information that is not as important. I'd like to offer my own current one: "Everything I need to know, I learned on YouTube." Students today are using this video archive to teach them skills and information that they search and seek out.

We don't need to be the controllers of the content. Teachers today stand to gain nothing of themselves or their students by keeping the knowledge guarded or secured. We need to educate students about how to use the knowledge. They can already find any answer they want by searching it online. They don't need a teacher (for instance) to inform them about historical dates and details. They need a curriculum expert to enlighten them about how those historical events are playing out right now in our world.

Students need direction and critical thinking skills about the kinds of things they seen online and find posted on YouTube. They can access it at almost any age; and yet, have not been taught how to process most of it into a context or framework that can build their own knowledge or understanding. YouTube and Google hold the knowledge. Teachers, now, are standing outside looking in through the windows and wondering what lessons their students are learning in today's online classrooms. They attend their choice of online classes at any given moment. They search and it appears instantly. They read what they want and move on when they feel like it.

When you teach, ask yourself, "how does this information prepare my students for the real world and what matters to them?" If you struggle with this question, how would you use the information if you weren't a teacher and therefore didn't need to know it to teach it? Do you remember when you learned the things you know or do you perhaps even learn some of it only because you need to teach it to your class? Rethink what you do and reap the benefits of either legitimizing your practice or starting to drive the change to improve your practice.

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