Had I read her article five years ago, Rizzo’s (2008) concept of YouTube as the new “cinema of attractions” would have struck a chord and helped me to rationalise its ‘attraction’ for young people. Today, I think YouTube has evolved into much more than this early narrow view allows credit for. Like so many emerging technologies, educators have embraced YouTube for its potential to facilitate teaching and learning. YouTube is only eight years old yet even in its first year we teachers were embracing the opportunities this platform afforded us to facilitate learning with instantly accessible visual media, even for very young children.

I recall my own early ‘YouTube revelation’: Talking to a year 1 class one day about how different animals move, one group wanted to draw a horse galloping. None of us knew which legs (if any) would move together. But lo, YouTube held the answer, in the form of umpteen videos of real live horses, doing real live galloping. We could even advance frame by frame using the arrow keys. Before I knew it the snake group and the snail group, indeed the entire menagerie, were clamouring to see real live videos of their real live subjects of study. Magic moments! Many’s the time since, that I rejoice in the autonomy afforded my own education sector in deciding at a school level, “To block, or not to block”.

With YouTube, we’ve moved a long way down the Web 2.0 path in eight years, from consuming to producing in such spheres. My colleagues use channels to collect and disseminate relevant materials for professional learning. We upload our own videos and embed selected gems for our students to access. I believe we could do far more in this area to capture and provide learning experiences in video for those students who need several exposures to attain mastery, or for those who cannot access activities face to face for whatever reason. Viva Mr Alan November and “The FLIP”!

I won’t forget that it was a child who first opened my eyes to YouTube as “2.0-way street” – as a means of communication and feedback. Watching this video was the first time I understood the fuss about Web 2.0 and what it promised for educators. This little guy still stands as a fabulous exemplar of the ‘participatory web’ (Crook, 2012) today:

One tip I always recommend to teachers embedding YouTube videos for students: Ensure the “Show suggested videos when the video finishes” checkbox is unticked before you copy the embed code. This way you won’t have your students distracted or tempted by seeing the thumbnails for any other videos after the final frame.

Image 24-08-13 at 12.08 AM

SO … anyone else care to share any tips, classroom ideas, “a-ha moments” or success stories, starring YouTube?


Crook, C. (2012). The ‘digital native’ in context: Tensions associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting. Oxford Review of Education. 38(1), 63-80.

Rizzo, T. (2008). YouTube: The new cinema of attractions. Scan Journal (5)1.

Thanks to Jurgen Appelo for the Featured image. Here’s his blog.


2 thoughts on “YouTube: More than a Cinema of Attractions

  1. Discovering Blubbr (https://www.blubbr.tv) gave me my first “a-ha” moment of how to get around the issue of YouTube being blocked in schools. Blubbr allows you to select 20 second clips from YouTube and create trivia questions to go with the clips. If you haven’t discovered it already, I really recommend checking it out.

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