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Going viral with math

MHS math teacher achieves success with instructional YouTube videos

December 14, 2011
By Jenny Kirk , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - When Marshall High School math teacher Marty Brandl first began putting together YouTube videos, it was primarily meant to assist his current math students. But in just four years, Brandl's YouTube videos have been viewed more than 800,000 times.

"I probably average 1,000 hits a day," Brandl said. "I would expect, in the next year, that it'll go up over 1 million, which will be amazing."

Recently, Brandl received a very rewarding e-mail from YouTube.

Article Photos

Photo by Jenny Kirk
Marshall High School math teacher Marty Brandl demonstrated how to find one of his educational math videos he posted on YouTube recently to assist in comprehending various topics. In four years, Brandl’s videos have been viewed 813,599 times.

"They're starting to put together this educational YouTube section where they highlight education," Brandl said. "I got an e-mail that said because I've consistently and recently put together high quality, educational videos, I'm going to be on I was blown away."

Anyone interested in viewing Brandl's videos can find them at There is also a link to the YouTube videos from Brandl's professional website found at

"I thought, 'wow,'" Brandl said. "I'm listed right in there with others like the Khan Academy, which a lot of people have heard of. Bill Gates gave them a huge grant to do all these different videos and stuff. I think, over time, it'll be easier for people to find my videos."

Brandl began his teaching career at Holy Redeemer School for four years. Then, while teaching online classes for Blue Sky for four years, Brandl came up with the idea of creating math videos.

"You could either search for a video for an hour or two, and it might or might not be what you were really looking for, or you can just make your own," Brandl said. "That's what it came down to."

While there were programs that he could have bought for hundreds of dollars, Brandl said, he chose to experiment with technology until he found a cost-free option.

"I looked at free options, tried different websites and did different things," he said. "Finally, I arrived at what I do now. My only investment was a $30 USB tablet that I use."

At the time, Brandl said, there weren't very many math resources available.

"Now, when you go to YouTube and search for math, you can come up with all kinds of videos," he said. "There's a ton of good stuff out there."

Beginning this past fall, Brandl currently teaches three sections of Algebra II at MHS.

"It's kind of cool because I teach the same thing three times throughout the day this semester," he said. "I can see what the common questions are that the kids have. Then, I can make a video that covers those things that came up."

The videos are also great for students who have been absent.

"The student can go check out those videos," Brandl said. "It really helps them get caught up with things, versus me, trying to find a time, because kids are so insanely busy, to meet with them to talk about the stuff they missed."

Students can watch the various videos at a time that is convenient for them, and they can also rewind the video and watch it again if they don't understand it.

In reviewing the number of hits on his videos, Brandl found that converting fractions to decimals and solving multi-step equations were the two most popular ones. But there are many more, on subjects like binomial theorem, compound events, standard deviation and properties of quadratic functions.

"I told the students that it is amazing the options they have to learn about stuff," Brandl said. "When I was in school, I could look at the book or talk to the teacher before or after school. That was about it. Now, you've got the world at your fingertips. The videos are a really cool resource."

According to the comments on Brandl's YouTube account, the math videos have reached far beyond his current classroom full of students. A number of teachers have recommended Brandl's videos, and a 37-year-old working on a GED also thanked him for his assistance.

"When I'm making these videos, I'm making them for the kids who I'm standing in front of during the day," Brandl said. "I want them all to do well. But since I stick them out there, anyone can benefit from them."

About a year ago, Brandl said he got a message from someone in India.

"Someone sent me a message asking if it was OK if they downloaded the videos that I had created and put them on computers they were setting up in rural areas of India, to help kids learn," Brandl said. "I couldn't believe it."

The positive comments help motivate Brandl to keep doing the videos.

"People will just open up and tell you their story, and it's rewarding to know that this is being helpful to this person," he said. "The comments help me to really push and teach people, literally, all over the world."

YouTube is working on an even more advanced way to monitor usage. Brandl will soon be able to see how long people are watching his videos and where they might be jumping out of them.

"It's all to help you create better videos," he said. "I want to make them as good as possible, to help benefit as many people as possible. I'll do whatever I can to help them be successful."



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