I read on Brandwatch.com's article “36 Fascinating YouTube Statistics for 2016” that 3.25 billion hours of YouTube videos are watched each month. 3.25 billion hours! And that the average viewing session lasts 40 minutes. That's a lot of YouTube, my friend.
Admittedly, YouTube is my family’s go-to when we want to learn a quick something. You know, in answer to those “How do they….?” questions. My children learn much more from watching videos than from reading a book or website, and YouTube is a one-stop shop.
But, there are a few problems with using YouTube for homeschooling.
- We need to stay focused on the task at hand when we search. YouTube can be pretty distracting. Right when they open it, my kids see the newest uploads from our subscribed channels. And the recommended videos may not be relevant and appropriate. With so many choices, we end up feeling like we need to watch multiple videos (and contribute to the 3.25 billion hours).
- You never know what you will stumble upon as you search on YouTube. Yes, you have a little bit of a safeguard if you view in restricted mode, but there is really no way to limit what ads pop-up. You need to supervise your child's YouTube searching.
- We need to be discerning about the source of the video. When I search by a topic, I consider whether the producer is a branded high-quality channel or just someone sitting in their bedroom. Does the channel have many subscribers? Is it a name I already know and trust (such as “Smithsonian”)? Can I tell the quality of the videos from their thumbnails? Does it seem like a source I can trust to be age appropriate?
- We sometimes need to supplement a video with more to get “the rest of the story”. Or to find a missing step. Ever try to learn something on YouTube, only to find that the instruction wasn’t thorough enough (especially when you’re trying to learn how to do something)? You end up needing to watch multiple videos to find someone who can actually teach effectively.
These YouTube pitfalls are the reason I’ve started investing in online courses for my kids.
Sure, YouTube works for the one-off (or two-off or even ten-off) curiosities. But when a child wants to thoroughly learn a skill or delve deeply into a topic, I’m going to find an online course for them. This is what I’ve figured out.
With an online course….
- The instructor is an expert
- The instruction is sequential and thorough
- You (generally) have access to the instructor to ask questions
That's valuable stuff, especially when your child is learning something that you don’t know anything about.Now, if you know me, you know that we’re into interest-led, purpose-focused, hands-on learning, often emphasizing skills training over head knowledge. So, when a child wants in-depth training, taught by an expert, buying a course is worth it. [Related: 100 Online Courses for Delight-Directed Homeschooling]
My family has taken online courses for music theory, songwriting, screenwriting, comic book coloring, social media management, botany, crimial law or more. I've got quite a few go-to websites for finding courses. Check them out and see if you can find a class for your homeschoolers. And be sure to sign up for their email lists so you're notified when they have sales.
How about you? What online courses have you used for homeschooling?