Adolescents and informal learning on Youtube: beyond formal education



Researchers from the Faculty of Information and Audiovisual Media, María José Masanet and José Miguel Tomasena, have participated in an investigation led by Pompeu Fabra University that studies informal learning platforms for adolescents. The study, headed by the professor of the Department of Communication at UPF, Carlos Alberto Scolari, determines that YouTube is the preferred platform for adolescents to learn about any subject. Fernanda Pires, from the UAB, has also collaborated in the research.

“I learn more mathematics on YouTube than at school, because I can repeat the video as many times as I want,” says one of the students who participated in the study. And when it comes to video games, Zack explains: “I search YouTube for the specific problem I’m having in the game and click on the video that comes up first.” In addition, there are adolescents who use videos, such as tutorials, to solve difficulties with a computer program or when they do not know how to use a certain program. software. These examples show the learning trends among the new generations, for whom free, instructive platforms full of diverse content such as YouTube are essential in the learning process.

The results of the research, which has been carried out with adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19, are presented in the article “Learning with YouTube: Beyond formal and informal through new actors, strategies and affordances”, published in the journal Convergence, which determines three specific areas of interest for YouTube. In the first place, the platform is used to expand the formal school curriculum, that is, to better understand the content covered in class, study for exams and learn about subjects related to the subjects taken at the institute. Secondly, it is used to develop technological knowledge in order to imitate the steps explained in a tutorial and, thus, overcome a level in a video game or find the solution to a computer problem. And, thirdly, YouTube is used as a form of cultural expression linked to leisure: people go to this platform to learn about crafts or cooking, or to learn to play an instrument, among many other possibilities.

The causes that have led YouTube to be the reference platform are diverse, but they are based on the ease of users to imitate and learn through repetition. In addition, the fact that it is a free platform and that any user can upload content of all kinds helps.