When life throws you lemons, thank it for the snack

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Wonders of YouTube

I know, I know, everyone and their grandmother knows all about YouTube. It has become an everyday household world like Google and Facebook. There are many reasons why YouTube is a valuable resource, beyond its entertainment value. There are many reasons why some people consider YouTube a work of evil. This is about positivity, so I'll focus on the good points, specifically two points: education value and nostalgia value.

In one of the courses I teach my students have to create a personality profile on a fictional psychological professional. Characters such as Dr. Ben Sobel from Analyze This and Analyze That are fair game. They just have to have a psychology degree and, preferably, be "working" in some psychology-related field. That's not too hard to do, since there are over 50 divisions of the American Psychological Association, representing thousands of career opportunities. Recently, one of my groups [waiting to the last minute, of course] discovered that they could not obtain their source material (i.e. the original movies in which their character appeared) and I did not have a copy. So, I did a quick search on YouTube for the [character] + [movie] and found several clips from the films in which their character appeared. They will hopefully be able to observe enough of the character's behavior to put together a decent personality profile and it will probably end up saving time in the long run since they won't have to watch the entire movie, just the main clips with their character. I will admit, though, that I hope more of my students will plan their projects better (I give them the entire semester to work on it) and not have to resort to this, but I am glad that YouTube is there as a last resort so I don't have to fail anyone.

Also in the teaching category, while I do try to show The Simpsons [see previous post] in my classes as often as possible, sometimes I can find a quick, shorter video on YouTube that illustrates one of our topics more quickly with a similar entertainment value. One of the two videos I've used most frequently is a clip from "A Bat Divided" (Batman the Brave and the Bold) showing Batman split into the three parts of Freud's personality--id (slacker eating nachos), ego (logical science), superego (raging crime fighter). The other clip I like to use is a short segment from Robot Chicken involving a giraffe progressing through Kubler-Ross's five stages of dying--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The ideas stick in my students' minds so that all I have to do when we review for a test is mention the clips and all the information comes flooding back to them.

On the nostalgia front, raise your hand if you are a child of the 80s/90s. I am. I, like many others of my generation, grew up with a lot of great cartoons. Do you remember Tiny Toons, Anamaniacs, or Freekazoid? I know a lot of the old shows we watched as kids have been released on DVD and I'm glad because I can relieve my childhood while sharing them with my daughter. Sadly, many studios--Warner Brothers, especially!--have not gotten around to releasing their shows to DVD, Netflix, or syndication. But I was lucky enough to find clips from these and other shows on YouTube. Now my daughter understands a little bit about my weirdness and she loves the shows just as much as I did. Sure, sometimes you have to sift through a lot of detritus to find the treasure, but the nuggets found are worth it.

What do you use YouTube for, mostly?

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