Remember movie day back in grade school? Your teacher would wheel out the old projector but you probably didn’t care what the movie was about — you were more concerned with getting away with some hijinks with your classmates under the cover of darkness.

The use of video in education has come a long way since those days. Today, students view videos on school supplied iPads or smartphones and in some cases, they’re creating videos themselves for class credit. Here are three examples of educators using YouTube in creative ways, including a free and powerful educational resource from YouTube itself.

Steve Spangler — Blowing Things Up for Science

If you’ve ever seen a video of the Mentos geyser experiment, where a bottle of cola erupts like a geyser when a Mentos candy is submerged in it, you can thank science teacher, inventor, and TV personality Steve Spangler for originating this viral video phenomenon back in 2005. Realizing the immense potential of using video to demonstrate scientific principles, Steve now uses what he calls “viral learning” to incorporate YouTube videos in the classroom.

Through his YouTube channel SpanglerScienceTV, Mr. Spangler demonstrates easy to reproduce experiments that teachers can use in their classrooms to teach kids about science. He also hosts a series of teacher workshops where he teaches educators how to create and capture science experiments on video, so that the lessons are more engaging and fun for students who watch the videos in class.

Referring to YouTube, Spangler’s production director Bradley Mayhew says, “The kids know this technology and this is part of their life.” Spangler has made it his mission to create and share video content on YouTube, providing educators and students with course material that’s both educational and fun.

Interactive Video Quizzes

Mr. Miller and Mrs. McDuffie, two teachers at Port Orange Elementary in Port Orange, FL have created an online learning community called MaxClass that uses YouTube and Google Forms to offer interactive quizzes for their fourth and fifth grade students.

On the MaxClass website, Miller and McDuffie post videos that prompt students to answer questions based on the material they’re watching. In the video above, students are prompted to answer math questions using a descriptive writing format, so students are quizzed on multiple subjects without even knowing it!

With these interactive videos, students are more engaged and they get instant feedback on the material that’s being taught. Quizzes can be timed and linked to other educational videos so an entire course can be taught or augmented with this very creative use of YouTube.

YouTube for Schools

Many well-meaning educators who want to use YouTube in the classroom find that YouTube is blocked or banned in their schools in an attempt to shield underage kids from inappropriate content.

To address this issue, YouTube has partnered with over 600 organizations and educators (including the two mentioned above) to offer a free program called YouTube for Schools. This program provides a safe-zone of trustworthy, vetted educational material that teachers can access and use in their classrooms.

School administrators or teachers can create school level accounts on YouTube for Schools which allows them to view and display videos for their classrooms. Students cannot log in to the account but they are permitted to view the content. YouTube’s comments and related videos features are disabled on YouTube for Schools videos, and the search function will only display videos from within the YouTube for Schools’ sister site YouTube EDU.

Video content is organized into the broad categories “Elementary,” “Middle School,” and “High School” and then subdivided by subjects such as “Math,” “Science,” and “Language Arts.” Teachers can recommend educational partners and playlists and can customize the content for their given schools.

Know any other educators or educational institutions using YouTube creatively in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

[mage and Video Credits: Peter Taylor, SpanglerScienceTV, MAXClassroom, YouTube for Schools]