Struggling With Math, Students Turn to YouTube for Help

Free online tutorial videos develop an audience.


Need help understanding differential equations or preparing for the AP physics exam? Rather than paying for tutors, students are turning to free YouTube videos for help. In some cases, students claim that the videos have helped them better than their own teachers and textbooks to understand tough math and science concepts.

The Associated Press reports on this trend here. The story profiles a "California hedge fund manager by day and math geek by night" who has posted over 600 tutorial videos on YouTube covering math, physics, and economics. The viewers are stressed-out students, parents of home-schooled children, and even a 36-year-old dropout who is now working toward a diploma.

These videos may not be as popular as those featuring "Obama Girl" or "Chris the Britney Spears Fan." But some, like a video on calculus integrals, have been watched as many as 50,000 times in the past year. The reaction is enthusiastic from viewers who post comments. One parent writes, "My eldest kid is dancing around in my room here because she is so excited that she finally found someone that teaches like this." A student writes, "I ditched my Calculus book at the beginning of the semester and have been mainly using your videos to learn the material. I'm happy to say I've got A's on both of my midterms."

It's probably not a good idea to rely solely on these online tutorials, educators say. They recommend that students vet the videos and, if there is any doubt, ask the classroom teacher.