Learning with YouTube: Beyond formal and informal through new actors, strategies and affordances

Fernanda Pires*, Maria Jose Masanet, José Miguel Tomasena, Carlos A. Scolari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the results from interviews and workshops on teens’ YouTube consumption and use as part of the Transmedia Literacy research project on teens and transmedia collaborative practices carried out in eight countries from Europe, South America and Australia. The project had two main objectives: to detect what teens are doing with media and to determine how they learn to do it. During the fieldwork, YouTube was identified as one of the platforms that teens use most for learning purposes. Therefore, this article maps teenagers’ main YouTube learning topics and motivations for using the platform. We studied the video formats that teens use and the way they use them to learn a wide variety of topics. Three main areas of interest were identified: formal school curriculum, video games and technology and wellness and culture. In all three areas, teens apply the apprenticeship model of learning as they follow YouTube instructors (teachers, experts and peers) to learn about these areas. Teens highlight different YouTube affordances that motivate them to use the platform, including using it as a search engine to find specific information, using the number of views or subscribers to validate the quality of the content, being able to control the video to learn at their own pace and using it as a repository and archive to find information. Teens use YouTube both to complement their formal school curriculum and to explore their own interests. Therefore, YouTube becomes an important learning space for adolescents to learn in a continuum. This means that it is a space that blurs the boundaries between classic oppositions like formal/informal learning due to how teens use it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-853
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Early online date28 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Digital apprentice
  • gameplay
  • informal learning
  • teenagers
  • tutorial
  • vlogs
  • YouTube


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