Educational Content on YouTube: The Video Essay

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YouTube, an online video-sharing platform, has gone through an immense amount of change since it was launched in 2005. What began as a website where people posted short (usually only a couple of minutes, or even seconds long) unedited videos has shifted into an internet space with over a billion users and billions of high effort, creative, and professionally edited videos being released daily. 

While YouTube has certainly grown monetarily and in popularity, another one of its significant developments is the addition of educational content. When considering informational videos on this platform, one might think of channels like Crash Course, which explain concepts taught in various high school subjects, such as world history and biology. They also might consider clips from a news broadcast. These types of videos fall under this specific YouTube content category, but they are not the only kinds of educational content presented on the website. Take, for example, the video essay.

The video essay is an audiovisual format that has risen to prominence in the past couple of years on this platform. The structure of a video essay is similar to that of written essays taught and assigned in traditional academic environments. This genre of content consists of a scripted argument with a central thesis supported by multiple points of evidence, including primary and secondary sources. Furthermore, these videos, unless personal on some level, maintain objectivity with the purpose of presenting an analytical perspective on a topic. Reviews, commentary, and straightforward histories are not video essays. 

Video essays on YouTube range from a variety of topics and perspectives. A portion of these creations focus on subsets of culture or life, such as in “Philosophy Tube’s analysis of social constructs in relation to identity” andContraPoints ‘essay on the transphobic termgender critical’.” Others will examine a piece of media through a specific lens or theory. One example of this would beLindsay Ellis’ three-part video series which studies Michael Bay’s Transformers through feminist theory.” Some of these pieces will even blend pop culture with societal viewpoints, as demonstrated inMelina Pendulum’s perspective on the television show Bridgerton’s attempt to tackle race and colorblind casting.” These inclusions are only some of the matters covered by this format on YouTube.

These types of videos promote critical thinking about the world, various mediums of art, and one’s views. Moreover, these audiovisual essays are normally followed up by in-depth conversations and debates in the comment section. The collaborative effort between these videos and viewers allows for the education process to be a continuous one. Also, criticisms written in academic institutions are not accessible to most people. Because YouTube is a globally utilized website, and the language employed by video essayists is not as complex, more people are able to absorb and process the information being presented. 

The methods people use to educate themselves and others is ever-changing. To add on, those who are seen as educators are also shifting to include more than just traditional teachers. It will be interesting to see the informational tools that will be manifested in the future.