Lessons from Lockdown: Using Youtube as a Learning Environment


My name’s Sarah and I teach ESOL full time in an FE college. 

Throughout lockdown it’s been a real challenge trying to reach students. 

Students always respond better to seeing their teacher/having a visual prompt so I began making lots of mini video lessons.  Some of me rambling about my garden and some using Screencastify in a more formal Google Slides classroom approach, but I needed somewhere to house them all so I set up my own YouTube channel!

From discussions in classes I knew that a good 90% of my students were familiar with and accessed YouTube for fun, so it was a no brainer to set up the channel.  To set the channel up I searched for videos on how to do it on YouTube itself.  Once I had set it up I then set about making it a private channel.  The reason I chose to do this was because the videos I made often included my email address etc for students to submit work.  Wouldn’t want that going out to the world!

To make it private, again I simply searched for an instructional video on YouTube, there are plenty out there.  Once your channel is private this will mean that no one – not even your subscribers- can see anything within your channel.  Sounds weird huh! The only time they can see things is when you share a link to a video with them.  I personally prefer this as it gives you full control over what you are sending out.  Students are able to like (or dislike!) videos and write comments should they wish.

What I really like about my channel is the analytics.  It gives you, as the administrator, a breakdown of how many views your videos receive along with date tracking data.  Even though I wasn’t hearing from some students I could see that the videos were being watched and this gave me comfort throughout lockdown.  Those that I was hearing from responded really well to the videos.  Some were inspired to make and share their own videos and one student even set up her own channel to share with and support her classmates!

There is the option within YouTube to create playlists.  This is the closest thing to having folders to keep things in.  I created playlists for each level of ESOL I was teaching.  A link to the playlist can then be sent out to students and they will be able to access all the videos within the playlist.

The videos you upload can be shared with students using a link and you can do this via text or email etc, so it’s pretty straight forward.  You can even hold a live session.  I tried this during lockdown and it was lovely to have interaction from students via the chat function.  I will definitely be keeping and using my channel this academic year, it has been an extremely useful tool.  Yes it was a bit fiddly to set up initially but as with most things online it’s worth it once it’s done! If I can do it, so can you!