Alongside readings and instructor-created resources, videos from external sources can often be great content for courses. Here are some things to keep in mind to maximize reliability, accessibility, and utility when selecting external videos. 

Questions to ask when selecting a video

  • Is the video published by a credible source that you can reasonably assume holds the copyright to the video? A video posted on an unofficial YouTube account that almost certainly does not hold the copyright has a greater chance of being removed. Be sure to analyze the credibility of a video resource as you would for any other learning resource you add to a course. Consider the bias of the content creator and publisher, the date the video was created and published, and what information is included or left out. 
  • Does the video have captions with accurate spelling, punctuation, speaker identification, and line lengths? (Opposed to auto-generated captions or no captions at all.)
  • Does the video support module outcomes and activities without duplicating what's covered by other resources?

Examples of places to look for credible sources

  • UMN Libraries' Collections - Virtually all of the University's licensed streaming videos should be accessible via the Libraries catalog. Search for "streaming" and share the permalink.
  • Media entities that make their video content freely available: PBS, TED, etc
    • Digital Video Collections Guide: includes links to both Libraries’ (also some campus organizations’) licensed and high quality “freely” available online streaming resources. Please note: The Libraries can not guarantee long term access, rights holder permissions, Terms of Service, costs, technical quality, accessibility, nor data privacy concerns for use of third party content.


All videos used in the course, whether required or recommended/optional, should have accurate captions. While the Disability Resource Center may assist with last minute captioning work in cases of an official accommodation letter, it is always best to proactively choose resources that already meet accessibility requirements. Instructors will generally caption their own videos, but ATD can also help to caption outside media prior to the start of a course; if you’re not currently working with an ATD designer, complete the CCAPS-ATD Learning Management Assistance form to request assistance.

  • As stated by Accessible U's Video & Audio page: "To meet University policy requirements, video and audio content must include text-based alternatives so all users can access the information."
  • Auto-generated captions are not accurate enough to meet accessibility requirements and must be edited for accuracy, punctuation, line length, etc. See: Guidelines for Editing Auto-Generated Captions.
  • If you are choosing to use a YouTube video that does not have captions edited for 100% accuracy, please contact ATD for assistance in rendering the video accessible.
  • Videos from other sources without captions will also require a transcript of the video.

Other ways to use external videos

Rather than linking in a specific YouTube video as a permanent resource, consider having an activity in which students go out and find videos on the topic to summarize and discuss with the class (using Canvas Discussions or a tool like VideoAnt).  Be mindful of the accessibility and media literacy elements that can be built into these types of assignments.