Tips from the Pros: Best Sources for Free Educational Videos

New online faculty and course developers must understand that moving from face-to-face teaching to online teaching requires a change in mind-set from content creator to content curator. The web is a fundamentally visual medium, so videos are normally the best medium for delivering most types of instruction.

But many faculty and course developers do not make maximum use of the outside videos available to them. Perhaps they think reusing rather than creating is cheating. But more likely they simply are not aware of the wealth of excellent educational videos produced by the private sector. Even if they are aware, they might not know where to find those videos. Of course, they know how to do a Google search, but that will produce an overwhelming number of results that they will need to sift through to find the best quality available. A better option is to start with video repositories as trusted sources of good content. Here are some of the best for finding videos for courses.

It might seem like avoiding YouTube ( would be a good way to weed out clutter, but YouTube actually provides a way to narrow your searches by channels. A good place to start is the #University channel (, which brings together videos posted across YouTube for higher education purposes. They can be documentaries, interviews, or talks, and the channel is divided into sub-channels by specialty, such as #Education, #SocialScience, and #History.

NPR ( hosts a channel with hundreds of videos organized into dozens of playlists that cover everything from science to education to music. National Geographic ( has a channel that posts a wide range of videos daily, currently with more than 1,000 videos on topics from how wildfires begin to the effort to break the two-hour marathon. BBC News( is not only is an excellent source for coverage of current events, but also hosts exceptional investigative pieces.

There are also a variety of specialty channels, such as Wireless Philosophy (, which hosts excellent RSA Animate-type videos on topics such as utilitarianism. Because they are too numerous to list here, I recommend searching for channels, rather than videos, and then browsing within those that host good content.

TED (, which hosts TED Talks, needs no introduction. It seems that faculty tend to shy away from these videos due to their short length and popular focus, but they can be a great way to introduce a topic and motivate students to learn more. Plus, many videos come with complete lesson plans on the TED-Ed channel ( that can include quizzes, links to further material, and a discussion forum.   

Top Documentary Films ( has over 3,000 films on often little-known topics, such as Canada’s Dark Secret, which covers Canada’s treatment of indigenous populations. They are arranged in categories from art to technology, and include viewer ratings to help guide searches.

The Internet Archive ( is a little-known nonprofit library that attempts to catalog all the digital public-domain content on the Internet. This includes 11 million books and texts, 4 million audio recordings, and 3 million videos. I searched for “physician assisted suicide,” which is my go-to test of a site’s ability to produce academic content, and came up with over a dozen promising options. That same search in the audio category also yielded some good NPR podcasts on the subject.

Vimeo ( is similar to YouTube in that it’s an all-purpose video hosting site, but many people prefer it to YouTube because there are fewer of the “cat on a treadmill” type videos. It tends to host professionally made videos, including award-winning movie shorts from independent filmmakers that are well worth checking out. It also has a Creative Commons search function that allows you to look through high-quality educational content that is free to use. One useful feature is the “Staff Picks” category, which quickly curates the best videos, such as Hang Son Ðoòng – THE LARGEST CAVE ON EARTH.

There is a world of excellent video resources available to the online course developer—you just need to dig around a little to find them. 

Leave a Reply

Logged in as Julie Evener. Edit your profile. Log out? Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles

Love ’em or hate ’em, student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are here to stay. Parts <a href="" target="_blank"...

Since January, I have led multiple faculty development sessions on generative AI for faculty at my university. Attitudes...
Does your class end with a bang or a whimper? Many of us spend a lot of time crafting...

Faculty have recently been bombarded with a dizzying array of apps, platforms, and other widgets that...

The rapid rise of livestream content development and consumption has been nothing short of remarkable. According to Ceci...

Feedback on performance has proven to be one of the most important influences on learning, but students consistently...