So long flash cards. Technology gives students new way to engage while studying.

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-14 18:48:10-04

With the school year coming to a close, students find themselves in the midst of final exams, papers and projects. Naturally, many of those students are cramming with some last minute study sessions.

One place more and more students are turning to for help getting refreshed on topics covered throughout the school year is YouTube. The video-sharing website is home to many popular personalities who offer help educating viewers on a variety of topics.

One popular option for students all over the country is Hip Hughes History. It's run by Keith Hughes, a former history teacher at McKinley High School in Buffalo and the district's current instructional technology coach.

"Technology is like a tool belt," he explained. "If I know I have this instrument where I can reach kids and that's YouTube or social media or Twitter or wherever, it would be silly not to take advantage of that."

You can find his YouTube channel here. It has around 200,000 subscribers and more than 400 videos covering a wide variety of history topics. On an average day, his videos are viewed about 25,000 times. On Tuesday, the day before New York State's U.S. History Regents exam, his page had 60,000 views.

"The other group of kids is kids who are studying for their exams and they're real nervous and they Google 'Jim Crow laws' and up pops my funny face," Hughes joked.

He started making the videos about ten years ago when YouTube first came out. For Hughes, the videos can't replace what teachers are doing in classrooms, but they are a good compliment to that type of learning.

"They're learning how to like learning, you know?" he said. "I think that's important and that's why it's important that we use their world. We can walk into their world."

This week, Hughes teamed up with Joe Bennes who teaches history at McKinley High School. Together, they hosted a live, two-hour study session for the U.S. History Regents exam. Five-thousand students were watching live, asking questions on Twitter that the two teachers answered during the live-stream.

"Kids who I can't get to do homework and they're all telling me they watched the video, they're all excited about it," Bennes said of his students' reaction. "That's just cool. Anytime that they're excited about something, I feel like I've done my job."

These videos are offered up as another option to students who might favor different learning styles. It's another way teachers are using new technology to expand the way they reach out to students.

"Some kids need the textbook, some kids want to hear you say it, some kids want to go home and watch the video," Bennes said. "You just have so many more opportunities and ways that you can reach them."

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