Getting Started with YouTube

Think of YouTube as your personal repository of great digital educational content. There is a treasure trove of material available in YouTube to supplement your curriculum.

You do not need to be a creator of videos to leverage this tool; harvest videos and organize them in thematic playlists. You'll have videos at your fingertips to use in lessons if you develop a routine for curation.

Follow our steps for curating videos in YouTube and starting your own YouTube channel!

Happy Birthday, YouTube!

1. Get the lay of the land

Mouse over the hotspots in the 2 following ThingLink images to become acquainted with YouTube. Keep in mind during this tutorial that the desktop and mobile views of YouTube may vary. Activities described here are with the desktop version in mind.

Consider creating your own YouTube channel, even if you're not a prolific creator of videos. Your YouTube channel can be a place where you can point to and organize high-quality content for students and colleagues.

Your YouTube Homepage

Your YouTube Channel

2. Create your own channel

You probably have your own YouTube channel already if you have a Google account. Google owns YouTube!

  1. Go to and sign in with your Google account information.
  2. If you’ve already created a YouTube account, the next few steps may not apply to you.
  3. Click on your picture in the upper right-hand corner.
  4. Click on Creator Studio. You will see a message that says, “You must create a channel to upload videos.”
  5. Click Create a Channel.
  6. Set up your channel as per YouTube’s directions.
  7. You will then see your Creator Studio Dashboard.
  8. Next, click on the three line pull down menu in the upper left-hand corner. Select My Channel.
  9. Any place on your channel that has a pencil icon is editable by you when you are logged into YouTube.
  10. Add channel art if you’d like ( is a good place to create a banner or use a photo of your own choosing from your computer or from YouTube’s gallery).
  11. Edit links on your channel art. Link to your website, Twitter account, etc if you’d like.
  12. Go to your About tab, and add a brief description. Keep it simple.
  13. Add a featured channel. This can be any channel that you’d like to point viewers towards.
  14. Enable or disable Popular YouTube channels.

3. Leverage search in YouTube

It's vital that educators understand how to search effectively, particularly in YouTube. It's the world's second largest search engine next to Google.

  1. Do a search in the search query box at the top of any YouTube page. Pick a topic such as math, world languages, physics, etc.
  2. Use the Filters pull-down menu on any search results page to narrow down your results.
  3. For example, add the Channels filter.
  4. Subscribe to any channels that appear interesting and useful to you.
  5. New additions to these channels will appear on your YouTube page under the My Subscriptions tab when you are logged into your account.

Do you have any search tips or strategies? Share them with others in the comment stream at the bottom of this document.

Check out my list of educational YouTube channels for more inspiration.

4. Subscribe to channels

Think of subscribing to YouTube channels as subscribing to magazines. New content from these channels will automatically be delivered to your YouTube homepage

You can get occasional email alerts to new content by adjusting your account settings.

  1. Login to YouTube and click on your profile picture in the upper right hand corner.
  2. Select and click on the gear symbol.
  3. On the lefthand side of the page, select notifications and choose your preferred settings.

Do you have any favorite YouTube channels that are education related? Add them to our comment stream at the very bottom of this document.

Click on the button below for a step-by-step guide from YouTube.

4. Add content to playlists

Once you've learned to search YouTube and to subscribe to channels, it's time to add videos to your own playlists. Playlists are personal collections of videos; you can create your own or save playlists by others. Get in the habit of adding great videos as you find them to playlists so that you have content ready to go when you need it. Set up playlists for subject areas and themes that you regularly teach. See my playlists for examples.

Playlists can be embedded in websites. Videos within playlists can be played continuously one after the other. Playlists make the process for flipping classroom instruction a bit more efficient.

  1. Find a video that you think looks interesting. Here’s one that I like:
  2. Underneath the video, click on: +Add to.
  3. Select Create a New Playlist.
  4. Name your playlist.
  5. Make it public or private.
  6. Click Create.
  7. When looking at a playlist, click the share link to find a link to share with others or to post to social media. Here's an example playlist on global awareness that I created and another created by Paul Hamilton on Explain Everything tutorials that I saved to my playlists.
  8. Your playlists will be available through the pulldown menu (three lines) on your YouTube homepage, through the video manager link your channel if you are logged in, and through the Creator Studio (click on Video Manager). You can always edit these.

Have any other ideas for using playlists in education? Share your suggestions in the comment stream at the end of this tutorial.

5. Upload and edit video

Now that you've learned a bit about curating videos, let's explore how to create a video.

Select one of the following methods to upload video to your YouTube account.

Method A

  1. Go to and click on the Upload button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
  2. Select a method for creating videos. Our suggestion is to use the webcam capture option if you have a webcam built into your computer.
  3. Record for a minute or two. You may have to allow access to your webcam and microphone.
  4. Stop recording and press the continue button.
  5. Select your privacy setting preferences and such under the Basic Info and Advanced Setting tabs.
  6. Publish your video.
  7. Click on your Video Manager in the left-hand side under the Creator Studio pull-down menu.
  8. Select the video clip you just made and click the Edit button.
  9. Play around with the editing tabs above your video. Note that you annotate videos with links, notes, and speech bubbles. You can also make corrections to video and apply copyright friendly audio. You can also edit videos by going to .
  10. Click save or apply changes.

Method B

Another cool way for others to upload to YOUR channel is the mobile upload method. You could have students use this method to submit short videos for assignments.

  1. Instead of using the upload method, use the secret email address that is unique to your YouTube account. It's found by clicking on your profile picture, selecting the gear symbol, and going to your account overview page. You should see an email address there. (I add this address to my email contacts.)
  2. Create a short video using your mobile device's video capabilities or through your computer's web camp.
  3. Email that video to the aforementioned email address and BOOM, this video will be in your YouTube account within minutes.
  4. You can always reset this email address and make another unique one if you don't want others to have continued access to publishing to your YouTube account. This also happens in your account overview page.
  5. Once this video is in your YouTube account, you can add it to a playlist or go to the Video Manager to edit the video.

How else can you create videos? Share your ideas in the comment stream at the end of this digital document.

6. Advanced tools to explore

Here's an example from Zaption. The lines in the timeline of the video indicate points of interactivity. Images, multiple choice questions, and open ended questions can be interested as checkpoints in videos or series of videos.

And here's an example from EDpuzzle....

7. Ponder instructional possibilities

Keep in mind that there are three main uses for YouTube: creating, consuming, and curating. How can you practice and model these tasks for your students?

Here's a quick list of instructional ideas, too:

  • Flipping the classroom (or flip the PD or faculty meeting)
  • Language practice
  • Assessments and reflections
  • Independent study
  • Writing Prompts
  • Field trip documentation
  • Choose Your Own Adventure activities
  • Screencasts
  • Additional ideas from Tami Brass
  • Share other ideas in the comments down below!

Additional Resources