MOOC Platform

This week YouTube launched two interesting new features that could be part of a bigger plan to turn the video platform into the next global MOOC platform. And it wouldn’t be YouTube’s first step into the education space. There are already YouTube EDU and YouTube for Schools.

The first feature is still in beta and from what I heard from fellow online teachers who wanted to try it out, it does not seem to work properly yet. Still, if YouTube launches this feature it will make a huge difference for creators of educational video content.


Video Questions Editor Beta

YouTube Questions Editor

The feature is called “Video Questions Editor” and enables you to create interactive quizzes inside your videos. I already covered StudyEgg here on Fractus Learning, a platform that offers a similar service already but outside of YouTube. As the new Video Questions Editor is still in beta and I haven’t heard of someone who actually succeeded in using it, it is hard to say how it works precisely. But the fact that YouTube is experimenting with such a feature shows that they see potential in the education space. Give it a try and let us know your experience.


Caption Translator

YouTube Caption Translation

The second new feature just officially launched on Monday is all about subtitles. Watching videos with subtitles can be a great way of learning a new language or learning about different cultures in general. One service called Viki actually built a huge platform with a dedicated audience from around the world that has translated music videos, movies and TV shows into hundreds of different languages.

The business model behind this is pretty straight forward. The users get access to the content for free and in return the publishers get their videos translated. Viki as the middlemen gets paid by the publishers for providing the service.

Now it seems as if YouTube wants to create a similar service based on its huge global audience. Though the process seems to be a bit more complicated compared to Viki, it still seems to be manageable for most YouTube users. You need to start off with a caption track of your video, probably in your native language. This caption track needs to contain the minute marks and all that.

After you have added it to the video you can then request a translation from your YouTube friends or also add your own translations. In order to make it simpler for people who want to collaborate, they can watch the video while doing the translation in the editor.

Of course the big question is, does YouTube has the same dedicated audience like Viki who spend hours on translating the newest episode of a South Korean soap opera or Japanese Manga. But having the option makes it far easier for educators to ask for help from their international learners. I will probably give this feature a try in one of my upcoming episodes for Deutsch Happen.


From video portal to MOOC platform?

But back to the main idea here. I am pretty sure that YouTube is seeing the online education space as an interesting field for growth. More and more education initiatives are using YouTube as a platform for their videos and the most stellar representative of this new way to teach, Salman Khan, was made by YouTube and its audience. There is more than funny bike accidents and cats and these two new features could be the start of a new initiative giving educational content creators the tools they need directly on YouTube.

In the long term it makes no sense for YouTube to just host the videos and let other platforms like Khan Academy or StudyEgg add features around it. For YouTube it is crucial to bind its users to the platform. Offering new and interactive ways to consume and learn with educational content could be one of them.


Feature image courtesy of Flick, Spencer E Holtaway. Pictures via TechCrunch and YouTube


  1. Timely and insightful as always, Kirsten. Do you know about YouTube’s American Idol-style EduGuru Search for the “most engaging and entertaining teachers”? This is reminding me more and more of the nascent music industry: the teachers with the best potential to rock MOOCs could be compared to the blues and gospel singers who were scouted in tiny bars, on street corners, and in picking fields.

    1. I am still not sure if education and advertisement really work together. As YouTube is investing in those teachers they want them to display ads against their content. There need to be better ways to pay those teachers, I’d say.

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