With nearly 900,000 views over the last year, an online video series from Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education has become a lifeline for instructors in the field whose students no longer have the opportunity to practice teaching skills in a classroom.
“I and so many others would not have been successful in a remote learning environment without these videos,” wrote Carol LaLiberte, the early childhood education coordinator at Asnuntuck Community College, in an email to the center’s director, Julia DeLapp.
“I used them before the pandemic but they were literally the difference between not being able to present a course and being able to show students best practices,” added LaLiberte.
Analytics show that the center’s main YouTube channel, which has existed since 2013 and includes over 135 videos, has had 2.9 million views. According to DeLapp, 891,000 of those views were from this year alone.
DeLapp said that they started to see a peak in video viewing around March 24, when students were returning to college after spring break. A press release from the center said that views increased in April from the usual 2,000 per day to around 5,000. During the fall semester, the channel was averaging 4,000 views daily.
DeLapp said that the project began in 2005, when the school received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The grant was to work with the sub base in Groton to develop an online training for U.S. childcare providers who were in the Navy. From there, the center continued making videos, on teaching early mathematics, outdoor play and a variety of clips related to professional development.
The videos are narrated by experts and feature children from two dozen locations in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The channel has around 12,800 subscribers from Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, and across the United States.
Even before the pandemic, DeLapp heard positive things about the videos. She attends a national conference every year, she said, and people frequently approach her to tell her how much they use the center’s channel.
DeLapp said that this year she has heard from faculty members at the center about the difficulty students have had in getting enough practical hours. She said that generally their students spend a lot of time working in daycare centers, the majority of which are no longer allowing non-essential personnel into the building.
“If you’re not able to get that hands on experience with children, [it’s] hard to bring that experience to life,” she said. “Especially with young children, it’s just not the same.”
Working with special needs students and with students who speak a language other than English are particularly difficult to learn from a textbook, said DeLapp. Perhaps for this reason, one of the center’s more popular videos is called “Supporting English Language Learners in the Preschool Classroom,” with over 205,000 views.
Another popular video is called “Importance of Play” which, DeLapp said, challenges the recent push to do more standardized testing with preschoolers. It has over 305,000 views.
DeLapp said the center plans to roll out some new videos within the next few weeks that will focus on teaching empathy and social justice to young children. They will also release videos on studies they have done on how outdoor play affects a child’s attention and on the ways that teachers introduce toys to a child.