Finding (and Using) Media


hard disk

If you live in the developed world and have never watched a video on YouTube, it's time to come out from under the rock you've been living beneath and bathe in the light. Did you know that over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds? Let's describe that another way: in order to watch this content in real time, you would need 6,000 clones of yourself dedicated exclusively to watching YouTube. This doesn't even account for all of the existing content that's already there. Who has time for restroom breaks when there's a 10 hour loop of Nyan Cat in high definition?

Okay, so clearly not all of that video is worth watching, and especially not in educational contexts. In all seriousness, though, Google's servers were expected to reach an exabyte of data in 2009. That's about a million 1-terabyte hard drives worth of data, and it's not all Nyan Cat. And there's also Vimeo, DailyMotion, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Howcast, and our very own MediaSpace.

The point of all this is to say that if you can't find the video you're looking for, you're being picky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just means you're probably going to have to produce a video yourself (don't worry, we'll get to that. But not today).

Learning Objectives

  • Increase familiarity with the digital media landscape
  • Increase familiarity with various media repositories
  • Learn where to search for Creative Commons media
  • Briefly discuss ways to use instructional media effectively
  • Review distribution and sharing tools

The Media Landscape

Educators today have access to a rich landscape of media and media repositories. You'll probably recognize several of these. These websites change how we engage with and think about content. Here are just a few examples. Notice which ones have interactive elements as well as video content.

Cyberthreat Realtime Map (works best in Chrome)
Frontline: The Cyberwar

Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell
The New York Times: Paths to the White House
The Washington Post: Top Secret America
Where Congress Stands on Guns


YouTube is one of the more popular media repositories, but there are some features in YouTube that many people don't know about. For example, YouTube has made great strides in accessibility for both the consumer and the content creator. You can upload a plain text transcript of a video, and YouTube will automatically time the transcript for you so that the words match the dialogue. You can see an example of that in one of our videos here (Just click on the 'CC' button in the video player).

Did you also know that YouTube has an editing tool? It even has a Creative Commons content search that will let you directly pull in other YouTube media that is licensed for reuse.

Creative Commons

Here's a tool that will let you search repositories of images with the Creative Commons license. It's generally acceptable to reuse these media in educational contexts as long as you attribute the work to the original content creator (the photographer, or the illustrator, etc.). Because copyright law is a contentious topic right now, there is a lot of misinformation being spread about copyright law and Fair Use. The Fair Use Checklist is a useful guide to help you navigate the fair use law. E-campus and OSU have additional copyright policies that do not necessarily overlap with federal copyright law. We talk more about copyright concerns in the section Finding and Editing Media.

Using Media Effectively

One of the most common questions we get asked at TAC is, "How do I put a video in my PowerPoint presentation?" While we do have guides that can help you with this process, it is sometimes discouraging when so much more attention is given to the technical process than application of effective pedagogy. In our webinars, we'll typically line up a queue of tabs across the top of our browser window, and there's no embedding required at all. Video and multimedia objects are rich, and there's usually a lot to pay attention to. Students won't experience the media uniformly, and without some kind of contextual framing, they may miss your learning objectives. The Excellence in Media series includes examples of leading questions for all of the media used. Many instructors will go a step further in their classes and provide something like a viewing guide to accompany the media, with questions that the students fill in while viewing. This encourages thoughtful reflection or analysis on the media, rather than just passive consumption of it. We discuss this in greater detail in the Pedagogy of Video installment of this series.


There are lots of ways to get media to your students, but terms like "easiest" and "best" are highly subjective. Our intent is to offer a small variety of distribution techniques that are robust. You can see a list of our preferred distribution methods here.