Media Literacy Teaching Strategies: YouTube

                  Many teachers would not have speculated that video sharing would even be feasible.  Currently, teachers are allowing video sharing sites to be their teaching assistant.  Teachers can incorporate YouTube videos into the classroom via showing videos in the classroom as part of different lessons.  Students will be able to learn how to utilize YouTube by watching their teachers share videos in the classroom as part of their lessons (Trier, 2007). 

                To present YouTube videos to students, teachers need to have Internet access.  Also, the teacher needs to have a projector connected to the computer.  This will allow students to see videos on a large screen.  A large group of students will be able to watch a video simultaneously (Trier, 2007). 

                The teacher will ask the students to watch and analyze various YouTube video clips.  Students will be asked to discuss the message and its meaning.  They will be asked to identify the target audience and how the video is appealing.  The goal is for the students to make students react to the video clip and think about what it is they are watching. 

                Teachers can create assignments that engage their students on YouTube.  Teachers need to be certain that students have a basic understanding of YouTube.  In order to educate students on how to use YouTube, teachers should introduce students to the site via a demonstration lecture.  Students should become familiar with the options and information that are with each video.  They should know how search on YouTube and how to create playlists (Trier, 2007).

Link: (YouTube Basics)

Link: (How to Upload a Video)

                When students have a solid grasp on the basics, teachers can come up with assignments that involve YouTube.  An example of a YouTube assignment would be to make a presentation on a video they saw on YouTube.  For example, a student could present a music video and explain the lyrics of the song or provide a brief history of the artists.  Also, the teacher could choose a video and ask students to write a response paper on it.  Afterwards, the teacher could ask the students questions about the video.  This will help students to become more media literate due to the fact that they will be asked to carefully examine videos and their messages.  Another assignment could be to create a playlist on topics of their choosing (Trier, 2007).

                Students could be asked to make their own videos and upload them to YouTube.  The teacher could introduce this by displaying student-made videos to the class.  A brief tutorial on how to upload a video will be necessary.   There are thousands of student-created videos on YouTube.  They could be asked upload a video about a book they read or something they saw on the news (Trier, 2007).

              The primary lesson to be learned on this subject is how the opportunity for anyone to upload a video changes or impacts the messages that people seek and receive.  The ideal videos that should be examined in the classrooom are videos featuring the popular YouTube character Fred. 


              In his videos, he is featured as a rural boy who is an illegitimate son of a drunken mom and an imprisoned dad.  Fred uses basic editing software to speed up his voice.  He rants about life at his place.  He learns to shave his face like his mom does, flush pills down the toilet, and wildly jump on his mom’s bed.  Using basic editing software, anyone can “squeakily” speak.  The question to be asked here is how can Fred teach us and how might people interpret his messages (Juhasz, 2008)? 

                There are two primary forms of videos on YouTube: the corporate video and the video blog (vlog).  Fred has one of the site’s most popular vlogs.  He uses low-end, home technology to create his videos about his thoughts.  For the older population, his squeaky videos become almost unbearable to watch.  Many popular films and videos have aesthetic aspects to them; however, Fred’s videos have little to no aesthetic qualities.  A question to be asked here is given the poor quality of his videos, how has he become popular on YouTube (Juhasz, 2008)? 

                For those who are part of the calmer generations, Fred’s videos are unwatchable.  His target audience is comprised of people under the age of 15.  Fred offers his audience a distraction.  He is stuck at home with nothing to do (like his teen-viewers).  He is shown as being too distracted, speedy, and hyperactive to be bored.  The kid who plays Fred, Lucas Cruikshank, could have a life that is boring (Juhasz, 2008). 

            Fred is watchable and loveable because he is just an ordinary kid who plays around with his camera.  He is perhaps more watchable than other vloggers because he inserts comedic content into his videos.  He depicts what boys find funny, a hyperactive kid doing realistic activities around his house (Juhasz, 2008).

            Fred is alone in Nebraska, which indicates why he would post vlogs on YouTube.  On the web, he meets youths (his audience) that is also driven to the audience due to boredom.  This is part of today’s digital youth who rarely ever leave the house and interact with other people in real life.  Instead, they interact on the Internet.  YouTube draws users who have a desire for self-expression and community (Juhasz, 2008). 

            It is critical to consider what Fred might teach educators and people interested in media literacy.  Educators need to consider the fault-lines that Fred highlights: professional/amateur, boredom/distraction, real/parody, isolation/community.  These are the current preoccupations of his audience.  From watching videos, people can learn a lot about their audiences (Juhasz, 2008).


Juhasz, A. (2008). Learning from fred.  Learning from YouTube

Trier, J. (2007). “Cool” engagements with youtube: part 2. Journal of Adolesent and Adult Literacy.

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