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Tips on Using YouTube as a College Resource

YouTube-logo-full_colorWait…YouTube is for more than just funny cat videos?

Yes! YouTube is also a great resource you can use throughout your college program. Too good to be true, right?

Well, it all depends on how you use it!

YouTube is a video sharing website where anyone can be viral superstars. It’s also a place to find info from simple crocheting techniques to the mysterious workings of black holes. You can use YouTube to help troubleshoot technical issues, get tips on improving study skills, or find tutoring for math problems.

Here are some tips on how to use YouTube to help complement your college experience:

  1. Ask the Right Question
    Just like a Google search, be descriptive when searching YouTube videos. If you need help brainstorming a thesis statement, don’t search “how to write a sentence.” Don’t get frustrated if the search results don’t have a video you need. Try rephrasing your question in different words to see if more relevant videos pop up. For technical tutorials, it’s a good idea to include your computer’s operating system (e.g., download on Mac or Windows 8) so you get an up-to-date video.
  1. Be Mindful
    Since there’s a wonderment of information to share and since YouTube makes it simple for anyone to upload a video, you’ll need to be cautious of what you search, click, and read. It’s easy to tell the difference between a video made with an old cell phone versus a professional camera set-up to host a tutoring session. This doesn’t mean all how-to videos need to have production company quality (no one is winning an Oscar for “How to Add Integers”), but be aware if the information does not look professional. Take note of the video author or uploader. You are more likely to get good information from MathTutorOnline instead of MaTh4ReAlZ. When searching videos, make sure to read the descriptions. This gives you a quick glimpse of the video content, and confirms which video will better fit your educational needs.
  1. Keep Distractions at Bay
    The biggest concern with using YouTube while studying are the “Related” videos and “Up Next” videos. Sometimes these videos are helpful, but often times become too costly (in terms of your time spent). You watch one music video, and before you know it, you spent the last two hours exploring new artists. YouTube makes it very easy to get trapped in this black hole. A little discipline from you, along with some of the tips below, should help you forgo the dreaded, “I’ll just watch one more,” time warp:

    • Tip 1: Channel subscriptions. Subscribe to channels that are school-related. When you visit YouTube, you are automatically prompted with the newest and most popular videos. By subscribing to education-related channels, you are given suggestions for any new videos that are added by these groups. You could find a really helpful video about grammar that you didn’t even know you needed! Similar videos will start appearing in the “Related” videos and “Up Next” sections as well.
    • Tip 2: Skip ads. Get in the habit of moving your mouse to the “Skip Ad” button at the start of the video and skip past those unnecessary seconds of advertising content. That time adds up and only pulls you away from getting work accomplished.
    • Tip 3: Out of sight, out of mind. Tape a piece of paper over your screen that shows the “Related” and “Up Next” videos. You can easily remove the paper when you need to search for new tutorials.

YouTube offers students a chance to be resourceful when faced with a challenge. No one knows the answer to every problem. The innovative students know where to look to find help with the answers. Your instructors are a perfect choice to ask for help, but may not be available when you’re completing school work in the middle of the night. Instead of waiting for someone to answer your voicemail, text, or email, see if you can find the answer on your own. You will be surprised at how many videos are available on YouTube that can provide a solution.

Bryan University has created a number of tutorial videos for students as well. From understanding computer basics and Microsoft Office programs to troubleshooting LearnBryan, you can access these videos anytime at http://help.bryanuniversity.edu/.

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