YouTube Expectations in a Canvas World

Educational Video Online and in Higher Education


  • Jennifer Burek Pierce University of Iowa
  • Colleen Theisen



educational video, asynchronous instruction, online video, YouTube


How do students’ previous experiences with online educational video shape their expectations of online learning in higher education?  Through this exploratory project, we look for ways to bridge the gap between student expectations and the norms of faculty practices in online instruction, which often include recorded video lectures.  Our literature review indicates the prevalence of online video in students’ lives before they enroll in master’s programs, and we argue that these prior encounters with online education form an understudied context for student learning in higher education.  Expert studies of U.S. online activity indicate the frequency with which users turn to YouTube for answers, and recognized online educational video companies from Complexly to Khan Academy to PBS Studios figure strongly in the resources that people turn to for online learning outside the academy.  By analyzing the norms of prominent online educational videos and the production companies that create them, we identify the rhetorical norms of this media.  One notable feature of online video production that students see before higher ed is that it is team-produced.  We direct attention, through practices identified in the literature and in our experiences in online educational settings, to ways that faculty can respond to this cultural gap to improve learning and instruction.  Understanding students’ preceding experiences with online informational videos, collaboration, and drawing on university resources that support media production are among strategies faculty can use to bridge the expectations gap.   

Author Biography

  • Colleen Theisen

    Lecturer, School of Library & Information Science

    Special Collections Certificate Administrator






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