Screen shots from Snap Language videos.

Reading and Literacy on YouTube

Thanks for watching and learning…

With the increasing use of technology, namely online videos, in education, your lessons had better keep up. (Your students will notice if you don’t.) Learners themselves seek out online educational materials either to supplement lessons or merely out of curiosity.

Video lectures are not new (e.g., The National Academic Press, 1997; Brecht, 2012). Although some see YouTube videos as entertainment only, a growing number of high-quality instructional videos are evident in YouTube channels such CrashCourse, Khan Academy, Minute Physics, SciShow, and WowMath among many others. (See Karen Hua, 2015, and Blog, She Wrote, 2014.)

Several video sharing sites exist (edtechteacher, 2014), some resulting at least partly because YouTube is blocked in schools. Currently, however, YouTube has the most overall name recognition not only in the United States but also internationally.

It’s great that instructors can share their expertise online, though it’s not as easy as many would have you believe. It’s easy to notice that the most viewed educational channels use more than a smartphone and creativity. Users will likely skip even an excellent lesson if they notice low production quality. I believe the more well produced videos users see on YouTube, the more they will come to expect them.

Snap Language

I started posting educational videos to YouTube about 9 months ago. I’ve been learning quite a bit and loving the process!

My channel, Snap Language, is about language in general, but it currently also has a strong reading component, which I hope reading instructors will want to use in their lessons.

One initial challenge was to convert, say, 30 minutes of content (measured in classroom time) into a 6- to 10-minute video while keeping its instructional integrity. It gets easier with practice.

The multitude of steps between “I have an idea for a video” and the final product can also be daunting: do research, write and edit the script, gather audio and visual materials while minding copyright issues, record and edit the video, and on and on. That all gets much easier once you develop your own workflow through trial and error.

All in all, it’s been a great experience. Getting to know other YouTubers and interacting with the audience has made it all worth it. Last fall, two community college instructors contacted me and asked for specific videos for their developmental reading courses. My reaction was, “Wow! This thing is for real now!”

Below is a sample among the first videos I’ve produced so far.


These are designed specifically for reading instruction.

About Literacy

These target language and linguistics in general. The plan is to address topics in language acquisition and learning, social and psychological aspects of language, language policy, and so forth.

… until the next time, thanks for watching…