How many hits on YouTube should a student video get?

For the last unit of physics this semester we worked with the local utility to produce a list of businesses that had used municipal dollars to reduce their energy use. The students then went out in groups to interview the business owners and had to make a short video promoting the energy saving changes the businesses made.

I am a physics teacher. My goal was not making videos, my goal was awareness of the program and the rather active community of energy savers our small town has. I wanted awareness for my students in the context of their study of energy and awareness for the community at large. The project also dovetails with a local video contest going on. So instead of all kinds of rubrics about the quality of the video my co-teacher and decided that one of the standards for the unit would be, "Students video will get X hits on YouTube." We negotiated X with the students. We opened with 200, and they talked us down to 90.

I found this to be a remarkable tool. In many of the conferences I had with groups making videos I would say things like:
  • Do you think people will want to watch it to the end?
  • Do you think your title is good enough to make someone watch?
  • Would you want to watch this 90 times to achieve the standard?
  • Would you watch a YouTube over 3 minutes?

All of the crazy detail questions that you get are answered by the students when you put it in practical terms. I loved how this turned the conversation immediately to things that great video makers do and away from my standards as a teacher. Plus now I have had people in the community talk to me about their energy use and how it can change.

Some notes: I know they could do the 90 views themselves. In this case go back to one of my goals, that the student be aware. If they watch their video 90 times, they will be aware. Even if they take the effort of putting it into an automatically rotating play list. Most achieved 90 by posting to their Facebook with they please watch this my teacher made me get 90 YouTube views. Meets my goals and theirs.