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13. YouTube or not YouTube?

youtube_logoThe attraction and power of visual technology is undisputed. Thus, one of the Web 2.0 tools which has value for educational purposes is YouTube (and similar video sharing web sites.) However, as with any tool, careful thought needs to go into its application in the classroom.

“Herding a class of students down to the computer lab to watch a few catchy videos has no more learning benefit than turning a class of students onto the Internet for a half hour of random surfing. The power of YouTube only is activated when the teacher has a clear idea of how a specific video clip can be used to introduce a concept or theme, instigate a discussion, or serve as a writing prompt.”

from: Using YouTube in the Classroom, by Brenda Dyck – a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).

As can be seen from examples already on this site, there are many useful videos available on the internet – you can find information on how to do just about anything. The trick is to sort through what is valuable, and what is either amateur, or just downright misleading. It can also provide a ready audience, which can be used with discretion, to upload videos to a wider audience – consider the success of new bands/singers promoting themselves.

How to use YouTube

1. Searching for material

The first step most people take with YouTube is to search for a video. (This requires no sign in.)

A simple search will bring up a list of videos, which have been tagged by those who upload them. Thus, your search can sometimes provide variable degrees of success. A brief summary of what is contained therein may be useful in guiding your choice.

video1However, as Chris O’Neal pointed out in a blog post on Edutopia, since YouTube is neither filtered or moderated, the search options can occasionally bring up some questionable materials, and should be used under careful supervision. It may in fact be better for teachers to do the searching, and use the next options to show clips to students…

2. Saving material

When you find a useful video clip, you can embed the link into your blog posts, or (with permissions from the creator), capture and save it using one of the many online converter tools. Embedding a video in a blog avoids the issue of students stumbling on inappropriate material when searching for a video directly at the site, and provides quick and easy access.

In Edublogs, to embed the video you can simply click on add mediathe icon with the filmstrip, paste the YouTube URL for the video clip into the URL space, and then click on Insert into post. It can be viewed after you have saved your post – select Preview this Page. (This is probably the best option in Edublogs as saving and uploading videos requires greater storage capacity than the standard – you will have to upgrade for this.)

At times, you may need to save a clip for offline use. After considering the copyright issues, have a look at the following blog post which shows one way of saving YouTube (and other online videos): YouTube Blocked? Cool tool #1 http://www.ahistoryteacher.com/wordpress/?p=179.

There are many online tools to capture and convert video – see also Vixy.net (see pictured below) which allows you to save and convert from YouTube and other locations – though you may also need DivX as a media player. This is also discussed in the next post on ‘Using RealPlayer’ – another easy option.


Uploading video

YouTube provides an online video instructing how to upload to YouTube Visit this link which is part of their general Help page to learn about uploading video. Before uploading, consider:

  • privacy issues (especially if students may be on your video)
  • useful tags and descriptions for your video for retrieval purposes
  • who your audience is
  • who else may see the video
  • appropriateness of online distribution (review details in the Blogging Guidelines page)


Consider the differing uses and impacts of YouTube in these two instances:

1. http://tinyurl.com/5fapwk

2. http://tinyurl.com/65o36v

Thus, what do we instruct and role model for our students?


teacher-tube-logoAn alternative which has been developing in recent years is TeacherTube. It provides access to educationally sound video clips from around the globe, in a moderated, filtered environment. As a smaller, regulated site, there is less to choose from, and at times it can be slow, but it is well worth a look, as educators build a place to share knowledge. And if you wanted safe place to upload class videos, this is a better alternative.

TeacherTube: A YouTube for Educators outlines some examples and uses of TeacherTube. There are also videos shared between YouTube and TeacherTube at times.

Stop Press

Open University is a recent addition to YouTube amenities. Announced in August 2008, Open University on YouTube aims to provide access to ‘subjects from arts and history to science and nature, in bite-sized chunks of two to three minutes each. OULife is a channel for The Open University’s staff and students to upload their own videos – from graduation ceremonies to video blogs.’

Available from OUView – http://www.youtube.com/ou – it aims to:

“Through YouTube even more people can benefit from our learning materials; they can share the videos with other people and we’ll be able to respond to their views. It’ll be another place for our staff and students around the world to be part of a virtual learning community – but open to all to watch and contribute. The best thing is that being online it’s available 24/7 around the world.” from The Open University launches OUView on YouTube

There are also links to http://au.youtube.com/user/openlearn – well worth pursuing.


1. Search for a video clip on Web 2.0 or Interactive Whiteboards or some area of interest to you. View the results and consider the information given.

2. How would you judge quality of a video?

3. What are some of the problems you have personally noted searching YouTube?

4. Share videos you have discovered on TeacherTube, or comment on Open Learning options.


One comment on “13. YouTube or not YouTube?

  1. I’ve had the luxury of a small senior class where we have had some time to explore YouTube together. Occasionally we’ve just used it for light relief – 3 maths lessons in one day can necessitate a sanity break, but we’ve also found some useful and at the same time funny maths stuff. There are some very creative people out there.
    When I’ve been preparing to introduce a topic to a class I sometimes have searched in YouTube for resources. It does take a fair bit of time to preview and check the quality of videos. When I find anything of value I use Delicious to bookmark it – and other members of the faculty do the same. That way we are saving each other time.

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