Why Thousands of K-12 Teachers Are Turning to SchoolTube

Forget the days of bringing an item for show and tell.

These days, with most everyone having video capabilities on some sort of technology device, students illustrate their lives and class projects with video. SchoolTube, a company based in St. Louis, assists in this phenomena.

SchoolTube may not be as well known as YouTube, but in school districts across the United States, it is. The company is the nation’s largest teacher moderated video sharing website and was the first of its kind when it launched in 2006 as an academic answer to YouTube, which is often blocked by school administrators. SchoolTube allows videos created by students to be uploaded and shared in a safe environment.

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“Every kid that has a cell phone, they can shoot video, so every student is a potential content creator,” Andrew Arizpe, SchoolTube co-founder, said in a statement. “They need a safe place to share that video. Everyday, as technology enhances, SchoolTube becomes more and more relevant.”

In the United States, the website is used by 40,000 schools for free. That number will dramatically increase this year, according to the company’s website, as more members of Generation M (for media) becomes deeper involved in filming their worlds.

Video topics range from the environment, science and technology to food, journalism and student films. A search engine allows students and teachers to find all videos shared from their schools. Students cannot upload a video until a teacher says it appropriate to publish. According to SchoolTube’s website, “Videos portraying violence, vulgarities, sexual situations, and copyrighted materials are prohibited from publication.”

SchoolTube was created by Andrew Arizpe and his father, Carl. Since its inception with private investors and an initial major sponsor, The National Geographic Society, in 2010, numerous other companies and educational groups, including the National Education Association, have signed on as sponsors.

One positive aspect of the site is aimed at teachers who can share their ideas for teaching, lesson plans, and projects with other educators around the world. Teachers also make creative videos that students can watch about math, science, and language arts.

A study in 2008 by BrainPOP called today’s K-12 students “digital natives,” who are students that have grown up with technology as opposed to learning to adapt to it. In that study, Richard Mayer, who is one of the leading researchers in multimedia learning said, “People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.”

Various studies show multimedia significantly boosts student learning especially when divided in to two to four minute videos that correlate with the curriculum.

SchoolTube sponsors various contests throughout the year to engage students. One such contest hosted by BullyBust and the Broadway musical “WICKED” was focused on how to stand up against bullying and create a community of like-minded students who wanted to erase bullying.

The site has also teamed up with WeatherBug that allows students to use the Weatherbug’s content and videos to create their own weather videos for the SchoolTube platform. In connection with the National Education Association, SchoolTube created a Read Across America channel for students.

“Without question, this generation truly is the media generation, devoting more than a quarter of each day to media,” a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation states. “As media devices become increasingly portable, and as they spread even further through young people’s environments – from their schools to their cars – media messages will become an even more ubiquitous presence in an already media-saturated world. Anything that takes up this much space in young people’s lives deserves our full attention.”

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Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist whose work frequently appears in The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. She is the author of two books. @SuziParker | TakePart.com 

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