15 best sources for free educational videos for teachers

Schoolgirl with headphones and laptop sitting at a desk at home, watching an educational video.

Published: June 23rd, 2022

Looking for high-quality educational videos for students that are free and easy to use in the classroom? Look no further than the thousands upon thousands of free educational videos you can find on YouTube and other online platforms.

This article will explore the benefits of video-assisted learning, explain how you can incorporate video into your classroom, and share the best places to find educational videos online.

Firstly, what is video-assisted learning?

Video-assisted learning, or VL, is an approach that leverages video as the primary medium for teaching and learning. In contrast to traditional lectures and other online educational materials, which often consist of text-based content, videos are highly engaging and interactive, making them an ideal tool for students of all ages.

Why use educational videos in the classroom?

Research has shown that incorporating videos into the classroom can have many benefits. Videos can help engage learners, improve comprehension and recall, and provide a different perspective on a topic.

You can use them to introduce a topic, enrich course content or dive deeper into a subject. For instance, you could choose to enhance a science class by showing a video of a real-life scientific experiment. Or a history class with a supporting video of a historic event. 

They can also be a helpful tool for Differentiated Instruction, providing additional support for struggling learners or enrichment of content for advanced students. 

How to use educational videos in the classroom

There are many ways to use educational videos in the classroom. Teachers can use them to introduce a new topic, supplement existing lesson plans, or provide extra practice on a concept. 

Some things to keep in mind when using videos in the classroom:

Choose high-quality videos from reputable sources

Many free video sites have a wealth of video content available, but the content can vary enormously in quality. Sources aimed at providing resources to teachers and schools can be a safer bet than more general platforms. In either case, be careful to vet any videos before showing them in class. You don’t want to risk accidentally showing something inaccurate, inappropriate or offensive.

Make sure the video is appropriate for your students’ age and ability level

Be sure to select appropriate videos for your students’ age and level of understanding. Videos can be a convenient tool in the classroom as long as they are pitched correctly for the class watching. On the other hand, videos aimed at a younger audience may be boring or patronising for older students, and videos aimed at a more advanced level may overwhelm and confuse a younger class.

Consider the format

Videos come in all formats, including animations, documentary-style videos, lectures, and more. Choose a format that is accessible to your students and supports their learning style.

Preview the video yourself before showing it to your class

Watch the video yourself to check for subtitles, visuals and audio quality. If something doesn’t look or sound right, don’t use it in your classroom. Even if a video is high quality and accurate to the topic, it’s important to make sure it aligns with your preferred teaching style to prevent confusion. For instance, that the method outlined in a maths video matches up with the method you teach your classes.

Have a plan for how you will use the video in your lesson

Before you show a video to your class, make sure you have a clear plan for how it will fit into your lesson. Will it be used as an introduction, a supplement to an existing unit, or something else? Having a clear goal in mind before using educational videos can help ensure that they are effective and beneficial for student learning.

You may want to consider giving students questions to answer as they watch the video to encourage engagement, although be mindful that some students might struggle to pay attention to a video and think about a list of questions at the same time. You could also pause the video at key moments to encourage discussion of the points being made and ensure students are actively listening to the content.

Use videos in moderation, as too many videos can be overwhelming for students

While videos can be a great addition to the classroom, it’s important to use them thoughtfully. Videos can often be quite information-dense, and obviously cannot adapt their pacing to match the needs of your specific group of students. Too many videos in one lesson can be overwhelming and disruptive to student learning.

The best sources for free educational videos

Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of using educational videos in the classroom and how to use them effectively, let’s look at where you can find them.

Many online platforms offer videos across a broad range of subjects.

1. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation that provides free educational resources, including video lessons, practice exercises, and more. Their selection includes videos on a wide variety of topics, making them an excellent resource for teachers looking for new material to use in the classroom.

2. Crash Course

Crash Course is another excellent source for high-quality educational videos. They have a wide selection of videos for different subjects and levels of study.

3. YouTube

There are many great educational channels on YouTube with a wide selection of quality videos on all subjects. A few of our favourite educational YouTube channels include Mindset Learn and Science Channel.

4. Ted-Ed

TED-Ed is an excellent resource for educational videos created by teachers and other experts. They have a large selection of videos that can be customised for use in the classroom and are available at multiple grade levels.

5. SchoolTube

SchoolTube is an excellent resource for finding educational videos from schools all over the world. They have a great variety of short instructional clips as well as longer documentaries on topics like climate change.

6. NextVista.org

The free videos on NextVista.org showcase the creativity of students and teachers around the world. There are three main collections: Light Bulbs (about literature and writing), Global Views (about unique moments in history), and Seeing Service (highlighting people making a difference in the world). Videos can be submitted by anybody, so you could have students carry out a video project to add to NextVista.org as well as using its video resources in your lessons.

7. The School of Life

The School of Life has a series of short educational videos on topics like philosophy, relationships, and happiness. There are a combination of articles, videos and paid courses on its website, or you can visit its YouTube channel for easy access to the videos. These thought-provoking videos can be great for discussion in the classroom or can provide some interesting ideas for students to explore further on their own time.

8. PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia has thousands of free educational videos, including short clips and full-length documentaries. Their selection is divided into different subject areas, making it easy to find relevant resources quickly.

9. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare offers over 2,400 courses online for free, including a wide variety of video lectures from instructors at the esteemed university. These videos can be excellent resources for teachers looking for new ideas and approaches to teaching their subject matter.

10. Udemy

Udemy is an online course provider that offers a wide variety of courses on all sorts of topics, including video lectures. While Udemy courses are not typically free, they often offer discounts, making them more affordable for teachers on a tight budget.

11. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative offers a wide variety of free online courses, many of which feature video lectures from the instructors. These videos can be excellent resources for teachers looking to supplement their existing curriculum.

12. Open Learn

Open Learn is a website created by The Open University in the United Kingdom that offers free learning resources on various topics. Their video section includes lectures, interviews, and documentaries on everything from history to science. 

13. TeacherTube

TeacherTube is an online community for sharing free instructional videos across many topics, including science, maths, history, social studies and languages. 

14. Vimeo

Much like YouTube, Vimeo is a great source of free videos. With a focus on high production values, you’ll find many high-quality educational videos by searching the extensive library on this platform.  

15. NASA

NASA has a collection of free videos focused on space exploration, science and engineering. The videos are perfect for supplementing science or history classes and sparking discussion and curiosity.  

Subject-specific sources of educational videos

While the options above offer content across a wide range of subjects, many resources offer content specific to a subject. Here are some of the best.

For maths

1. Numberphile

Numberphile is a YouTube channel dedicated to videos about numbers and maths. Their short, digestible videos can be great for teachers looking for quick and engaging maths lessons or students simply looking for some extra practice.

2. MathTV

MathTV offers thousands of free maths videos from experienced tutors around the world. From basic arithmetic to advanced calculus, MathTV has videos for students of all levels.

For science

1. SciShow

SciShow is a YouTube channel that produces free science videos about all sorts of topics, from space to biology and everything in between. These videos can be great for sparking curiosity and discussion in the science classroom.

2. MinutePhysics

MinutePhysics is a YouTube channel that produces short, informative videos about various physics topics. These videos are perfect for teachers looking for quick and easy ways to incorporate physics into their lesson plans.

For languages

1. Polyglot Pablo

Polyglot Pablo is a YouTube channel that provides fun and engaging lessons in multiple languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, English and German. Teachers can use these videos to introduce students to new languages or provide extra practice and engagement.

2. FluentU

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalised language learning lessons. Their video library is impressive, featuring content in dozens of languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese and many more. You can get a free trial, although after that you do need to pay to access the service.

How to incorporate video into the classroom

There is a wealth of resources available for teachers looking for free educational videos. These 15 sources represent some of the best options, offering videos on a wide variety of topics and at multiple grade levels.

The next consideration is how to incorporate these videos into the classroom. Promethean’s ActivPanel interactive display and free teaching software make it easy to integrate video into your lesson plans, allowing you to easily add videos directly onto the interactive whiteboard and annotate overtop. Get in touch for a free live demo to discover all the features and benefits of the ActivPanel.

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