Update: This post has been updated in 2018 with an all new list of our favorites. Check it out!
Educational videos are being used more and more inside and outside of the classroom. Salman Khan, a proponent of video education, and founder of the popular educational video site Khan Academy, speaks often about the benefits of these videos. He believes that educational videos are useful because they can help personalize education, they can free up more class time for valuable student-teacher interaction, and they have can reach students who might not otherwise be able to get into a classroom.
While there is a lot of debate about the effectiveness of educational videos compared to traditional education, they are certainly becoming more popular, and there are a lot of websites that produce and/or host these videos. So without further ado, here are the top 5 educational video sites that we found to be especially popular, interesting, or useful:
1. Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that produces educational videos that are free for anyone to view at any time. Though they got their start with mainly math videos, they have also added many science videos, and some videos in the humanities. Videos come with questions that viewers can use to test their knowledge, and viewers can also create a profile to track their progress, and earn points and badges. Teachers who wish to use Khan Academy videos as part of their curriculum have the ability to view students’ progress in detailed breakdowns, allowing them to see which students are struggling with or excelling in certain subjects.
- Khan Academy has a library of over 4200 videos.
- They have worked with schools and teachers to make their videos and website a more useful and interactive part of the classroom experience.
- They have a lot of questions accompanying each video to help viewers test their knowledge. Many of the questions for the math videos are randomly generated, which means that there are actually an infinite number of math problems available at Khan Academy. (And infinity itself is a mathematical concept, which can also be explored at Khan Academy. These videos about infinity and doodling, for example, are pretty cool.)
Cons (or, Khans):
- They could be more visually stimulating; for the most part they are basically just traditional lectures with some illustration.
- Khan Academy has mostly math videos, though they are branching out into other subjects.
2. TED-Ed is a new initiative by TED, the non-profit organization known for its popular videos of educational talks. TED-Ed is a collection of educational video lessons, some delivered as a lecture, and some animated.
In order to make the videos an interactive part of the classroom experience, TED-Ed videos can be “flipped”, turning the video into a customized lesson that can be shared with students, or with anyone. Teachers can add context, questions, follow-up suggestions, select from pre-written quizzes, and add additional readings or activities. They can also see which students have viewed the video, answered questions, or completed any supplemental activity. Teachers can share their “flips”, or video lessons, so others can use them, or use them as a base for creating their own lessons. TED-Ed features especially good flips prominently on the website.
- TED-Ed’s videos are either carefully selected, or created by TED-Ed themselves, so they are all very good quality.
- They seek to collaborate with skilled animators, so videos are creative and very visually engaging.
- The ability to “flip” videos makes them a more interactive and useful part of a curriculum.
- TED-Ed is a fairly new initiative, so they don’t have a very large database of videos yet.
- Since most videos are of specific, quite unique, teacher-submitted lessons, often TED-Ed does not have videos on more general topics. So, viewers can use TED-Ed to learn, for example, “How folding paper can get you to the moon,” but not more basic, general algebraic principles.
3. BrainPOP has animated educational videos in a range of subject for grades K-12. It is used in 25 percent of schools and is available in several languages. Plus, it has videos specifically designed for ESL students. All video content aligns with US state education standards, and the site has won many awards, including the 2013 Common Sense Media ON for Learning Award. The site also has quizzes, additional information, comics, and games related to the topics covered in many of the videos. BrainPOP does not host videos created elsewhere, but produces all of their own content. It costs money to subscribe to BrainPOP, but the site does feature some free videos and potential subscribers can sign up for a free trial.
- BrainPOP has a large, searchable database of videos that they have produced themselves, so they are consistent.
- They have won a lot of awards, and have a good reputation.
- BrainPOP has a lot of resources, like a mobile app, closed captioning for all its videos, and videos in many different languages.
- It is not free.
- BrainPOP has been around since 1999, so many of the videos feel a bit dated. Also, many aren’t as creative and visually interesting as those at TED-Ed, for example.
4. TeacherTube is a website that allows people in education, primarily teachers, to share and view videos, audio, documents, and photos. It’s basically like a school-appropriate version of YouTube, that has both educational videos to be used in the classroom, and instructional videos for teachers.
- TeacherTube has a very large database of over 400,000 educational video resources
- It has collaborated with organizations like NASA.
- Videos can be uploaded by anyone, so even though they are screened for school-appropriateness, there are very varying levels of quality among videos.
- TeacherTube does have any tracking tools or “flipping” capabilities for teachers like Khan Academy and TED-Ed do.
5. WatchKnowLearn.org is a directory of over 50,000 educational video resources suggested by educators. The website does not actually create any of the videos, but rather provides links to videos that are hosted elsewhere. These links are searchable by subject, description, and grade level. WatchKnowLearn.org provides links to videos on YouTube, National Geographic, PBS, Vimeo, Hulu, Internet Archive, and many more sites.
- WatchKnowLearn.org sorts and views videos from many different sites, making them easy to find.
- Because the videos are selected by teachers, they have good educational value and are always school appropriate.
- WatchKnowLearn.org does not make their own videos, so there is no consistency in style.
- The site only provides links to videos, it does not provide any supporting educational content.
Have we missed any great resources? Let us know in the comments!
If you liked this post, check out our guide to making great non-profit fundraising videos, as well as tips for telling great stories using video.