Have You Ever Used YouTube to Learn How to Do Something?

YouTube has become a great way to display videos, and they’re published with so many purposes: ads, music, news, TV shows/movies, etc. But they’re also informational, and there are many, many how-to videos published on YouTube.

In fact, a recent article explained half of the people using YouTube are viewing how-to videos. Are you in that half? Have you ever used YouTube to learn how to do something?

Fabio reports he’s using it to try and learn French. “It’s a work in progress, but YouTube has helped a lot.”

Simon says he uses it for that purpose all the time. He loves having a visual guide that shows exactly what he needs to do. When first learning how to apply thermal paste to a processor, he used YouTube videos to “get a feel of how much you need as well as the best ways to spread it evenly.” He adds there are also many exercise guides with full routines on YouTube.

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Damien doesn’t really depend on YouTube and says there are only a few times when he uses it for learning. Most of the time he just uses it for watching shows and entertainment.

Sayak has used it more times than he would generally admit to. Last year he used YouTube to learn how to skin a freshly caught fish after he’d bragged about his cooking skills. “It was a mess, but the job was a success,” and he felt a great deal of satisfaction. He does warn that YouTube can only teach you so much.

Ryan admits he’s constantly used YouTube for learning purposes for “virtually everything.” He’s repaired various engine problems on an ’83 BMW, completed basic plumbing repairs, and done troubleshooting on tech issues. He looks things up on YouTube before he touches anything.

Alex admits YouTube is his first stop when he wants to learn something. With mechanical designs and engineering solutions, “YouTube provides an array of 3D animations that clearly illustrate a machine’s functionality.” Sometimes it’s also helpful for diagnosing computer problems, thought he believes it takes twice as long to watch a video than to read a post with the same solution. He also looks up MOOCs and Coursera on YouTube.

Recently he used YouTube to fix his kitchen sink. He had a wobbly fixture and was afraid to take it apart to fix it but found a clear YouTube video that was helpful. He also used it to figure out why his (very old) stovetop wouldn’t light. He learned how to light the pilot light and reports it gave him “a lot more confidence in the solution.”

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In true Phil fashion, he says, “I’ve used it to learn how to flip poker chips like a Bond villain.” He also reports using it to learn how to cast his face in plastic, paint scale models and distress them, change a rubber belt on a tape recorder, and convert a ZX Spectrum computer to output composite video rather than RF.

The downside of “using YouTube as a schoolroom” is that many videos are “poorly executed and self-aggrandizing, and the content full of filler,” so you need to look through many videos to find the right one, but nearly anything you’re looking for can be found. (Phil also happens to be the MTE YouTube channel producer.)

I don’t as a norm use YouTube for learning things, but the one time that really stands out for me was when our clothes dryer broke down. I was Googling for information on what may be wrong with it, and I chanced upon a YouTube video with exact instructions on how to fix the problem. It saved us hundreds of dollars!

Do you look up how-to videos on YouTube? Have they helped you? What types of things have you learned how to do on YouTube? Let us know your experience in the comments section below.

One comment

  1. Most of the videos fail to get to the point and I turn them off when looking for a How-To-Do-It; however, I found a number of them quite useful:
    1. Replacing a failing instrument module on 2006 Prius – found a right-on-point video of a knowledgeable person actually performing the replacement.
    2. A bike shop showed (with just a bit of fanfare) the replacement of rear bearings in a Sun recumbent tricycle.
    3. Flushing the print spooler in Windows was quickly found and performed from a video (after sorting through a dozen or more that were not in English) when I forgot how to do it.

    So, yes. There are a number of good videos…but most are worthless crap.

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