Beyond YouTube: Great Places to Find Video for Your Online Course

Here’s a statement I have been hearing a lot lately that some may find surprising:

“I wish there was a video online about X. I searched on YouTube, but I couldn’t find anything.”

Now, X could be anything—Biology, Economics, Politics—and while I doubt the search came up empty, I understand the sentiment.

The great thing about YouTube is there is a great video about practically any subject or concept you can imagine. The problem with YouTube is there are a thousand awful videos about practically any subject or concept you can imagine. If you are looking for a specific video, you can probably find it on YouTube, but if you are interested in discovering video that be used in an educational context, YouTube can be really frustrating.

To end the frustration, I thought I should give a list of some my favorite places to find educational content and post an example video for each. I will use “Biology” as my search term, and I promise not to spend more than two to three minutes searching on each site.


Academic Earth

Academic Earth offers a great collection of classroom lectures and course materials from leading universities such as Harvard, Berkeley, and Yale. It’s not original content. The videos on Academic Earth are the same ones on YouTube or on the individual Universities Open Course sites. Academic Earth acts as an aggregator and curator of the videos and presents them in a manner that makes them easy to find and embed. The Academic Earth videos offer a great way to present a survey of prerequisite material as a review before delving into your course’s more specific objectives.

The biology test:

Biochemistry I

Watch it on Academic Earth is another video aggregator that hosts discussions, panels, and debates with leading experts and researchers.

The biology test:

Genomics: Where Have We Come and Where Are We Going?


Big Think

Big Think also offers interviews with experts and deep thinkers. Big Think is different from and Academic Earth because Big Think offers original content that is available no place else.

The biology test:

E.O. Wilson on the Century of Biology


TED Talks

If you haven’t ever taken a look at the TED Talks make some room on your calendar to have your mind blown. TED is an organization known for its annual conference on “ideas worth spreading,” an invitation-only event that asks its speakers to give the “talk of their lives.” Since 2006, the Talks have been available online. While originally focused on technology, entertainment, and design, hence the name TED, the Talks scope has expanded and includes a wide array of subject matter including business and science.

The biology test:

Robert Full: Learning from the gecko’s tail


The Daily Show

Did you know that every segment from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report is online and keyword searchable? How is Jon Stewart educational content? Finding an interview with a popular author or finding a humorous piece that’s related to your course is a great way to build a connection between your students and the materials and to create a “lean-in” moment.

The biology test:

Doing a quick search for “biology” on the Colbert Web site yielded this great interview with author Stephen Johnson.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Steven Johnson
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

One thought on “Beyond YouTube: Great Places to Find Video for Your Online Course

  1. I found the information to be very informative, the TED website was very great the I can see how the videos could inspire students to learn new concepts and to think outside the box. Quality videos with fast moving infomative speakers are what educators are looking for to incorporate technology in the classroom.

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