School Life Student Culture

YouToo? The WPGA Teachers of Youtube

A look into the youtube channels of Mr. Bohnen, Mr. Seib and Mr. Byrka.

By: Deborah Jin (grade 11)

Photos by: Naomi Carruthers (grade 11)

Youtube. You know — the place where people all over the world share videos for others to watch. Whether it is music videos, vlogs, makeup tutorials, gameplay or anything else, we have all watched something on YouTube before. But, there is an area that is not explored much — educational videos surprisingly make up an incredibly small portion of YouTube.

I have had the opportunity to speak with a few teachers from WPGA about their own educational YouTube channels. Mr. Seib, Mr. Byrka, and Mr. Bohnen all have different opinions concerning this platform, and hearing what they have to say about the use of YouTube in regards to education was an informative experience.

Mr. Seib

YouToo - Seib.jpg

Mr. Seib, who teaches math 8-12, is one of the new teachers this year. At the school where he used to teach, he was one of the first teachers to upload lesson videos onto a place called Zenfolio. After coming to WPGA, he decided to upload them to YouTube instead and now he is “starting fresh.” He has over two hundred videos on his channel which are almost all math lessons. Before transitioning to YouTube, Mr. Seib was worried about all of the time he would have to spend on re-uploading his videos. Luckily, it turned out to be quite easy; it was simply “drop and drag.” Despite the simplicity of uploading, creating more than two hundred videos is still a very tall task.

“Just about every grade has a full set of videos except for grade 8,” Mr. Seib mentions – and he is still making more for them! When Mr. Seib first started making videos, he was given extra time so that he could make them for his old school: “A lot of other teachers would use my videos so that students could watch them at home…I think that is one of the advantages,” he continues, “you can learn the basics of something very quickly on YouTube, and then in class you can spend time talking about the stuff that you really do not understand.” During his lessons at school, Mr. Seib encourages his students to, “try [the lesson] on their own and make mistakes and talk to other people about it.” He later mentioned that he does sometimes upload videos of his dog, so, “if students get tired, they can watch videos of [his] dog in between.”

Mr. Seib’s channel:

Mr. Bohnen

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Mr. Bohnen typically teaches chemistry and engineering for grades 11 to 12, and this year he is also teaching math 11. When launching his channel in 2015, he intended to provide “additional ways” for his students and “other students around the world” to approach the chemistry curriculum. On top of his educational channel, he also has a channel for reviewing sample products he receives from Amazon. “I became one of the top reviewers on Amazon,” he mentions proudly. Mr. Bohnen estimates that all of his chemistry 11 and 12 videos collectively add up to around a 400 hour project. Each video displays real classes he has taught. In the end, after four to six hours of meticulous editing, an informative and insightful short video is produced.

Something Mr. Bohnen has noticed while on his channel is the location of the people watching his videos. Not only does he have viewers in Canada and the U.S., but he also has them in other countries: “What is more interesting to me is the fact that I have a subscriber base or watching base in India, Australia, Germany — there are like little clusters of people around the world who have been using my videos. It’s really bizarre to me.” While comparing both of his channels together, he found that the amount of views they have garnered to be quite unusual. Altogether his chemistry videos have 24,000 views. On the other hand, one three minute review of a watch from some, “obscure Chinese brand” on his other channel has 23,000 views. “That tells you that people are more interested in vanity and garbage consumer goods than they are in my chemistry channel,” he adds. “I just thought that was intriguing.”

Mr. Bohnen’s channel:

Mr. Bohnen’s review channel:

Mr. Byrka

YouToo - Byrka.jpg

Mr. Byrka teaches both math and physics for grades 9 to 12 this year. His initial purpose for starting his channel was to make tutorials for basic math skills. Additionally, he also made the channel to satisfy his own curiosity. He considered it his own “challenge” to see if he could, “figure out how to do it and pull it all together.” He is also enthusiastic about the idea of learning from a YouTube video, as his students are “encouraged to pause it, try some of the problems, unpause it, let it play and see how the solution unfolds.” Mr. Byrka tries to condense longer classes into a short video, because he understands that if students spend a lengthy amount of time working it out in class it can take too long.

When he knows how he wants to structure his content, it can still take up to an hour of Mr. Byrka’s time to produce a five minute video. This is because his attention is on his baby boy, Charlie. Although Mr. Byrka has not uploaded a video in a while, he is still aiming to make new ones for the future. When asked how many subscribers he has, he mentioned that he, “thinks of YouTube as a way to just post a link to somebody.” One thing he finds particularly interesting is when people comment under his videos. He has had a few students comment before, and sometimes they start “posting silly things…saying things that aren’t true about themselves.” With a nonchalant shrug, he adds that when the comments get too personal he deletes them.

Mr. Byrka’s channel:

Chatting with Mr. Seib, Mr. Byrka, and Mr. Bohnen about their YouTube channels has been refreshing and entertaining. These teachers are proving that social media can  influence a student’s educational growth. While the majority of students do not go on YouTube to seek information about school subjects, there are many advantages of learning through these videos. Whether you are learning the basics or delving deeper into a certain subject, a simple search on YouTube can reveal numerous videos made by passionate people. And who knows? Maybe one of them is a member of the WPGA staff!


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