Remote Learning

YouTube Rises Above All Else in Student Learning at Home

During the pandemic, an education technology company found that YouTube dominated student traffic on school-managed devices during a sample week — accounting for more time online than all of the other top-10 most-used domains combined.

GoGuardian analyzed online traffic that went through its servers from March 16 through April 17, when most schools had made the transition to online learning. For the sake of various comparisons the company also looked at data specifically between Mar. 9-15, before school closures, and May 4-10, in the midst of remote learning. GoGuardian produces software for managing 1-to-1 computing programs in schools.

According to a snapshot on the findings, the company reported that more than eight in 10 (84 percent) of the most popular websites were "educational in nature." However, the authors noted that because students "use school devices for both educational and personal browsing," there's no way to know whether the surfing was always for legitimate learning purposes.

The 10 most popular education websites visited during the March-April timeframe were:

1. YouTube.com

2. Clever.com

3. Zoom.us

4. Khanacademy.org

5. Instructure.com

6. Flipgrid.com

7. Classlink.com

8. Ixl.com

9. Quizlet.com

10. Edpuzzle.com

During those comparison weeks in March and May, the percentage of time the student population spent on YouTube doubled, and that's also when students appeared to invest more time in YouTube than all of the other sites combined. The report noted that another 10 percent of the overall time that students spent online using school devices during that week in May was consumed by video conferencing.

In an additional study of the learning plans posted as of May 13, 2020 for 30 school districts, the research found 87.5 percent of districts offered asynchronous distance learning, in which teachers posted assignments or to-do learning tasks for students, who could complete those at their own pace. When students needed help, the teachers offered "office hours" or invited them to reach out via email or phone.

Prior to the school move to online learning, just three in 10 districts had take-home devices for their students. After schools closed their physical campuses, that rose to 52 percent; an additional 22 percent stopped limiting 1-to-1 devices to on-campus use only. Another 16 percent offered computers to families as they expressed the need for computers. And it was unclear among the remaining schools (31.5 percent) about how they handled device distribution.

Additional results are openly available in a report on the GoGuardian website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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