YouTube Tutorials – Learning Redefined

 – Pritika Sood

What is a tutorial? In simple words, a tutorial helps you learn something that you aren’t familiar with, or have no knowledge of.  Which brings me to my next question: what is a YouTube tutorial? YouTube is a video sharing and video streaming site, a very popular instrument of social media.  A tutorial in the form of a video, uploaded on YouTube for everyone to watch, is what is termed as a YouTube tutorial.

You may ask how and why these are relevant today. Simple:  at least 90% of us who are classified as ‘youth’ are dependent on them. YouTube tutorials have redefined the way we learn. We have evolved from a stage where parents and elders were our knowledge banks to a stage where internet, which is easily available at our fingertips, is what we use to acquire information. Tutorials on YouTube are an advanced step in the ‘internet at our fingertips’ stage. There are tutorials for anything and everything: from hair styling to cooking to studying, the list is endless.

The partners at YouTube offer a wide variety of these tutorials to help sharpen skills, create better content and build fan bases. In an age where downloading plays a significant role in our lives, these tutorials facilitate ‘reverse downloading’ i.e. uploading.

Let me share a few stories about the unusual situations in which such tutorials have been used. Everyone knows what rogan josht is: a famous recipe of mutton curry. I know a lady, whose sister learnt how to make rogan josht from a YouTube tutorial. But when otherwise asked to make it, she cannot do so. I have a friend, who uses YouTube tutorials to fix whatever problems he has with his bike. Another friend uses it to style her hair. Sounds funny? But this is reality.

Now coming to a story about myself, where I used it and found it useful. I will be interning with the Goldman Sachs firm in the summer. I’m sure everyone is aware of their reputation and high status in the corporate world. As a result, they have certain routine procedures that they follow with their employees, that is, interns as well as full time analysts. One such routine procedure involved mailing the interns asking them to scan certain documents in a PDF format, and send it to them through email. The problem was that once scanned, the documents were in a JPEG format (all photographs are in this format), and converting to a PDF file was something I was unfamiliar with.  Luckily for me, a YouTube tutorial proved to be my hero.

In this situation, I feel I must state a fact: every rule has its exception. This exception presents itself in the form of an acquaintance that has never had to use a YouTube tutorial for anything; for he simply says that he was never in a situation to need them. For him, the people around him prove to be informative enough. This exception, however, is a minority, as all exceptions are.

Coming back to its relevance and significance, let’s look at it from another angle. Do YouTube tutorials educate? Depends on what your definition of education is.  Do we benefit from them? For the sake of convenience, absolutely. But do we really learn and benefit from an educative point of view? I don’t think so. For instance, people may use the tutorial for something, but most of them may not remember the exact thing that they saw in the tutorial without the video being played for them. So, what then is learning?

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