YouTube: More than just cats.

Sometimes people put videos on YouTube that are so divine, and so delightfully brilliant, that they merit some honourable mention. No, I’m not talking about that video of the kid who just got back from the dentist. Or the ninja cat.

I’m talking about videos created by academic educators — librarians among them — that explain really complex scholarly concepts in clear and succinct 5 minute (or so) videos. They’re from a variety of places, and have a variety of approaches, but the common thread is that they are amazing teaching tools. Watching them has actually made me a better instructional librarian, and I even played one in a class I taught because I though the creators did such a fantastic job of relaying key information literacy concepts.

So, I thought I’d include a few here, in no particular order. Drum roll, please:

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals, by PeabodyLibrary

After I viewed this video for the first time, I told my boss we needed to get a cartoonist on staff. *snort*
The distinction between scholarly and popular publications is hugely important for business students. Their assignment topics are tangible and rooted in the real world of current affairs and commerce, and they’re often required to review not only academic publications, but also trade magazines and newspapers. But of course, they need to know when to use which. This video lays out the differences fantastically, and it’s also entertaining.

Peer Review in Five Minutes, by libncsu (a.k.a. the North Carolina State University Libraries)

I love this video because I found myself having to explain to students what peer-review is, as an extension of the whole, “What IS a scholarly article? And why is the librarian explaining this to me?” discussion. It’s hard for students to understand just how different scholarly articles are from popular articles, but I think this really hits the point home. And anyone who’s demo-ed how to look up journals in Ulrich’s will understand why I’m glad she explained what “referred” means.
“Just look for the referee jersey!”
“Wait, I though I was looking for journals that are peer-reviewed, not refereed.”
“Ah, I forgot to mention… those are the same thing…”
*look of skepticism/confusion*

It’s funny when she says, “As you know… professors are up to a lot more than teaching students.” Because literally: My first-year students didn’t know that. They didn’t know that their professors were distinctly different than their high school teachers. And why would they? Nobody told them! But this video makes the connection.

Critical Thinking, by QualiaSoup

This one was brought to my attention by my friend Mark, who is the Continuing Teacher Education Librarian at Queen’s University. It tackles critical thinking, in video format. So right off the bat, we have to give kudos for grappling with such a tough subject matter. But further kudos to the creators for grappling with it so well. There is not an instructional session that goes by that I don’t find myself telling students that they have to think critically about the information they’re using in their research. It’s the whole point of information literacy, and it’s paramount to the work of academics. And librarians. And especially, academic librarians.

Now, I might not ever show this one in a class. But like I told Mark, watching it and understanding its contents makes me a better instructor, and helps immensely to relay those high-level concepts in a clear and logical way.


5 responses to “YouTube: More than just cats.

  1. I find distinguishing the trade periodicals is the confusing part. The students get that they can’t use UsWeekly but they usually will say they can use Psychology Today – because it has ‘psychology’ in the title.

    I enjoyed this post! But I do think that cat videos are still the best.

    • Hi Leigh,
      I mean, at the end of the day it comes down to cats and the funny things they do. That’s a given.
      In my experience, the distinction for periodicals gets muddier and muddier. In fact, we have some periodicals that faculty assume are peer-reviewed, but they’re not! Things written by economists, lawyers, or researchers seem so academic-y. Although using UsWeekly in a paper would be a pretty majestic feat, I have to say.

      • You have to remember that I work at a college. These things are not as obvious as you would like to think (using UsWeekly).

  2. I think I will need to start calling my man friend “John Q. Erudite”!! Haha. Thanks for posting these Meg – useful as always.