Educational videos available online have huge potential to enrich the classroom experience. There is great content available on practically every subject merely at the click of a button. That said, the same click of a button is all that separates school children from funny cats, silly Internet memes and scantily-clad pop stars. The problem can be easily solved by banning video sharing sites altogether, but that of course means denying the students access to hundreds of thousands of inspiring and informative videos. YouTube apparently knows this, as it decided to introduce a distraction-free version of its platform called YouTube for Schools.
YouTube for Schools is a free service accessed by school administrators and teachers, who then decide what the students get to see. There are videos available from over six hundred YouTube EDU partners representing diverse fields of education. To make it easier for the teachers to find the right material to incorporate into their curricula, YouTube arranged the videos into over 300 playlists. These are sorted both by subject matter, e.g. Science, Math, Social Studies and English Language Arts, and by level of difficulty. Of course educators can still build their own education playlists, so that they have just the right thing ready for the classroom. The interface used by the students does not include the comments functionality and the related videos section to make sure students are not distracted or exposed to inappropriate content.
This initiative is not the only effort on YouTube's part aimed at cementing the image of the company as a source of valuable educational resources. YouTube Space Lab, for example, is a worldwide initiative aimed at involving youngsters in space related research and design. The challenge is to come up with an idea for a space exploration-related experiment. The young person whose proposal impresses professor Stephen Hawking the most will see the experiment carried out on board of International Space Station. Although the results of the YouTube for Schools initiative are bound not to be as immediately tangible, they are likely to be equally far reaching.
Before you visit the program's website to find out more and sign up, have a look at the short promotional video below.