Left to their own devices, both kids and adults (at least in my world) seem to turn to YouTube mostly for sensationalism and cheap laughs. But sweep aside the detritus and you’ll quickly uncover a terrific technological resource for educators – not only for classroom settings, but also for one-on-one and small groups, including online.

The challenge with finding good YouTube videos to support learners is: how to sort through all those channels and videos to identify the quality content you need, without spending countless hours watching video yourself? Fortunately, some my fellow edu-bloggers have been hard at work picking some of the best channels to help get you started.

But first, a tip from K. Walsh of EmergingEdTech: To keep students focused instead of browsing all over YouTube, you can simply embed the videos you select in a web page, such as on Edmondo.

And here are my personal “top 7” favorite YouTube channels for education:

YouTube EDU

Not really a channel but a gargantuan “global video classroom” within the YouTube framework, YouTube EDU is divided into three sub-categories: Primary & Secondary Education, University and Lifelong Learning. Designed to offer the widest possible set of quality educational videos, the content ranges from top-flight university course lectures to professional development seminar content to inspirational talks from global thought leaders to quick lessons for kids. You can even build your own “global classroom” by uploading videos to your YouTube channel. There’s also the YouTube Teachers Channel, specifically for K-12 teachers; and YouTube for Schools, which offers YouTube EDU video content in a more controlled environment.

PBS

NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre, science documentaries, artistic performances, historical dramas, the Idea Channel… This is some of the best programming available for viewing anywhere.

Smithsonian Videos

Like PBS, the Smithsonian Channel features art, history/culture, science, technology and lots of other topical content in well-organized playlists. There are also “virtual tours” and a wide range of videos on the exhibits, collections and work within the museums themselves, like the National Museum of African Art channel.

National Geographic

Wow – complete Nat Geo programming for those of us who don’t have TVs! Amazing photography, courageous reporting, unbeatable specials on topics you never knew could be so interesting, and on and on and on it goes. If I were stranded on a desert island with nothing but web connectivity and an iPad, this is the one source of videos I’d most want access to. Your students just might agree.

Associated Press

Here’s a channel where you can get solid, politically unbiased global news videos without a lot of fluff or hype (though admittedly there are some pretty humorous content in there). Laid out by “top stories,” it includes a “video vault” you can search on for content other than today’s late-breaking news.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy says its mission is to provide a free education to anyone, anywhere. Notwithstanding a reputation for its K-12 academic content in math and science, it also features videos on a huge range of topics — learners of all ages and predilections can find something here. Increasingly branching out into history and the arts, and offering content in over fifteen languages, both Google and Bill Gates have endorsed this site.

SimpleK12

This excellent professional development channel for teachers encompasses many of the most timely topics for educators, including Internet safety for kids, plagarism, advice on iPad apps (including iPad training), leveraging Google tools, integrating multimedia into your classroom, and much more.

Many thanks to these blogs and bloggers for direction and inspiration for this post:

What educational YouTube channels are most useful to you? Please comment and share your personal recommendations.

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