It may have started as a place to watch cats being cute and people filming pranks, but YouTube has now evolved into one of the most powerful social media platforms out there, and with one quick search you can find videos and a devoted online community for almost any subject.

With the educational potential of YouTube in mind, we decided to survey 2,800 people to discover what methods of education adults have found to be the most impactful since leaving school.

Surprisingly, more than half of Brits said they believe they have learnt more from YouTube than they did in school (51%), and that they find it is the best method for learning ‘life skills’.

Podcasts also proved popular with a quarter of people (24%) saying that they have learnt more from listening to podcasts than in school. This medium was voted the best method for learning ‘academic’ subject matter post-formal education.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of adults said that they consider ‘most’ of what they learnt in school as useless. With less than a third (31%) confirming that they regularly utilise skills/knowledge learnt in school in everyday life.

The majority of respondents (83%) agreed that schools should teach more practical skills within the curriculum, with algebra considered the most ‘useless’ subject learnt in school (it received 55% of votes).


Pexels / Bidvine

Our survey then delved into the particular subject areas people learn the most on YouTube. Check out the 10 most popular subjects and the most popular channels associated to each one below:

  1. DIY (64%)
    5-Minute Crafts - 68.3 million subscribers
  2. Car repairs (63%)
    ChrisFix - 6.83 million subscribers
  3. Cooking/Baking (61%)
    Tasty - 19.4 million subscribers
  4. Drawing/art (59%)
    Wow Art - 3.12 million subscribers
  5. Music (52%)
    GuitarJamz - 2.25 million subscribers
  6. Beauty (52%)
    James Charles - 21.8 million subscribers
  7. Languages (48%)
    Easy Languages - 957,000 subscribers
  8. Coding and computer science (37%) - 2.49 million subscribers
  9. Furniture making (35%)
    DIY Creators - 2.55 million subscribers
  10. Gardening (28%)
    Garden Answer - 1.01 million subscribers

Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

The survey also asked people which podcasts people believed to be the most educational, here are the top 10:

  1. The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince
  2. No Such Thing as a Fish
  3. The Joe Rogan Experience
  4. Sex with Emily
  5. TED Talks Daily
  6. The Pleasure Podcast
  7. Making Sense with Sam Harris
  8. Stuff You Should Know
  9. The Joe Wicks Podcast
  10. Feel better, live more with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

OnBuy discovered that the average Brit now spends 6 hours a week watching YouTube videos and just under an hour a week (56 minutes) listening to podcasts. A quarter of people (23%) also said that they watch YouTube more than traditional broadcast television or other streaming services.

Of those who responded, 45% were parents and three quarters (77%) said they had incorporated YouTube in their homeschool routine during lockdown, while more than half of parents (54%) said they had incorporated podcasts into their homeschool routine. Sixty percent of parents also stated that they found YouTube to be more effective and engaging than educational resources provided by their child’s school during lockdown.

Over recent years, podcasts have continued to grow in popularity, in the last two years the number of different podcasts available via Apple Podcasts has doubled, from 550,000 in 2018 to over a million in 2020*. While Spotify reported a 31% rise in paid subscribers in the first three months of 2020**.

Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy said,

“It is great to see that YouTube, a platform traditionally associated with entertainment and music, is also used by so many for educational purposes; if you were curious about anything I’m sure you can find a YouTube video out there that can help you find out more.

“Podcasts have also developed to be a serious contender for providing quality education resources for all ages and the recent rise in interest could be the reason behind the spike in sales we saw at the beginning of lockdown for headphones and earphones!”