5 tips to find the good stuff on YouTube

As of March 2008, there were roughly 73.8 million videos on YouTube, with 200,000 added everyday. That’s a lot of video. And if you are looking for quality, educational video to use in a course, it’s a lot of noise. So how do you separate the educational wheat from the panda sneezing chaff? Here are a couple of strategies you might want to try out when navigating the YouTube waters.

1) Create an account

When you create an account, YouTube will be able to analyze your viewing patterns and find content that it thinks you will be interested in. Looking for videos on Gestalt therapy? View a few and YouTube will recommend similar videos and have those recommendations ready for you the next time you log in.

When you create an account, you also have the ability to mark videos as a Favorite. Very handy when you do find a useful video and don’t want to forget where it is. Videos marked as Favorites are put in a special spot on your account page where you can easily find it again.

An account also gives you the ability to subscribe to other users videos or channels and be notified when new videos are added to those channels. What kind of channels might you like to subscribe to? Well, how about….

2) Sources you already trust and use

Recently I was doing some work with a trades instructor who does a lot of work with students on work place safety. One of the prime sources of content he uses is WorkSafeBC. Imagine how happy we were when we found the WorkPlaceBC channel on YouTube with loads of high quality videos directly related to this instructors specific needs?

Before you start your general search, search the channels for organizations you already know and trust. Chances are, they have a YouTube channel which you can subscribe to (using your newly created account from tip 1).

Oh, did I say general search? Sorry. I meant…

3) Advanced Search is your friend

YouTube advanced search options

YouTube is now the second most popular search engine after Google, so it makes sense to spend a bit of time getting to know the advanced search options.

Doing a general search on a site with close to 100 million resources is going to pull up a lot of irrelevant content, so skip the search bar and go straight to advanced search options.

One of the first search filters you want to use is the category filter. There is an Education category you can choose, but also choose categories that are relevant to your subject area.

If you are looking for English language videos, filter by language, which will also narrow down the results returned.

Finally, if you are looking for geographically specific content, check out the location filter. Click on Show Map and you get a lovely Google interactive map that will let you zero in on videos from a specific location. Looking for videos of volcanic eruptions at Mt. Etna in Italy? Easy with the location filter. Add in some keywords for a specific location and you have a very powerful search option.

Search by location on YouTube

4) Set your country preference

Set your YouTube country preference

Right beside the YouTube logo in the top right corner of the site is a link labeled Worldwide (all). Click on that and choose your default country. This will give videos from your country preferential treatment. This is, of course, providing you want to start locally. If you are looking for videos on, say, British History, then you may want to set your location to the UK. YouTube doesn’t care if your default location is really your default location. Self select a location that works for you and YouTube will begin the filtering process.

5) When you find a video, follow the trail

YouTube Related Videos and Other Videos From User

For every video you find, YouTube will display a list of Related Videos and More From this user videos. Chances are, if you find one video on a subject by that user, they may have more along the same lines. Follow the links and check out their other videos.

Same thing with Related Videos. If you find something you like, check the Related Videos list to the right of the video to see if there are more, or maybe better, examples.

There you go – 5 tips to make finding content on YouTube a bit easier.You may want to add a few of your own in the comments area.

Using content from YouTube is just one way to take educational  advantage of the video sharing site. Now that you have an account, consider creating your own videos and posting your own content. Or explore the possibilities of having students create and post content, turning YouTube into a powerful learning tool for students. I’ll explore these themes in future posts. But for now, happy searching.


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.