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Informal learning with YouTube

WorkgroupEveryday Media
Duration04/2018 - open
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

The video-sharing platform YouTube is meanwhile the 2nd largest search engine. “How to…” videos can be found for almost any topic – ranging from make-up tips over solutions for software problems to reparing washing machines. These videos can provide an easy and cheap access to learning opportunities for everybody. How frequently are they used for informal learning and which role does the instructor play?

Learning with videos has been studied mainly in more formal settings such as educational videos. The focus has been above all on the instructional quality of the video or certain teacher variables. In contrast to professional educational videos, the instructor in a YouTube video is often not a professional teacher but just a person with a certain expertise. In this project, it is studied which videos users select when searching on YouTube and how they perform or estimate their performance in the task they were interested in. Special interest is given to the characteristics of the instructor – similarity with the users, source credibility – but also the style of the video. First results show that “How to…” videos on YouTube are a very popular and positively evaluated source for informal learning. Moreover, the instructor variables explain variance above and beyond the technical and instructional quality of the video, indicating that the social relationships with the instructor play an important role. These results give valuable insights into informal learning processes and knowledge-related internet use in leisure time.


Utz, S., & Wolfers, L. N. (2022). How-to videos on YouTube: the role of the instructor. Information, Communication & Society, 25(7), 959-974. [Data] request document


Prof. Dr. Sonja Utz Prof. Dr. Sonja Utz
Tel.: +49 7071 979-308