This useful post over at the estimable AHA Today blog highlights a resource that sounds far more useful than it actually is: YouTube - EDU Directory. The EDU Directory brings together all of the programs and channels posted to YouTube from universities. Great, right?
Well, maybe. The content is a mixed bag. A look through the thumbnails and titles of the videos on the EDU landing page tell the story. Most are either sporting events, promotional videos, or videos of public talks or round tables (few of them featuring historians).
And try finding anything. I went to the Brandeis University channel because I listened to a good podcasted lecture from David Hackett Fischer this morning. Brandeis has 67 videos online at YouTube, but their page offers no sorting or guide. Most of the video are not lectures at all but Brandeis promotional pieces and recordings of public talks and concerts around campus. All well and good, but disappointing for the history fan dreaming of finding a full semester of Fischer's lectures. You can search, but the YouTube search function is a blunt instrument, with no advanced search capabilities. So I searched for "history" and found 4 videos--all PR videos from Brandeis. A search for "Fischer" came up with nothing.
The whole EDU portal is like that--there may be some great content (and AHA Today found some) but it is buried beneath the near-random pile of stuff that is YouTube. YouTube would work a lot better if channel owners could provide some categorization, or if it allowed user tagging.
Bottom Line: No matter how good some of the content, YouTube is not currently a good archive for history materials.