I don’t have formal survey data to back up this perception, but it seems to me that the vast majority of U.S. public schools now block all access YouTube with network content filters. There are some understandable reasons for that action, I suppose, but overall I think the blocking of YouTube by school districts reflects a general preference for blocking websites at the network level instead of doing more difficult but potentially valuable things like:

  • Supervising students when they are online at school.
  • Creating and maintaining systems of online accountability at school, so the websites students visit are logged to their user account and thereby documented for parents, teachers, administrators, and the students themselves.
  • Ensuring that learning opportunities provided to students are genuinely engaging.

YouTube will likely continue to be blocked in our school districts for the foreseeable future, but more alternatives are available for teachers wanting to integrate and use high-quality web video that CAN be found on YouTube as well as other video sharing websites. I now have about 20 videos saved in different playlists in YouTube.

I’ve learned about two new resources this week that relate to the use of instructional videos with students. The first is TeacherTube, which I learned about from a post by Eric Langhorst. It is great to see sites like TeacherTube which strive to provide educationally-focused video content for learners of all ages. Because of its specific educational focus, hopefully TeacherTube can avoid the blacklist (or make the whitelist) of most school district content filters.

I also learned about ZamZar, I think from my del.icio.us network. Zamzar will let you download any web-based video directly to your hard drive, so you can play it offline. That means teachers can download YouTube and other web-posted videos they want to use instructionally with students at home (where the district content filter doesn’t get in the way) and then play the videos offline in their classrooms in the format they prefer.

One person I talked to today said he’d had problems with Zamzar truncating the last 30 – 60 seconds of video from some of the files he’d tried to convert. I’m not sure if that is a bug with certain websites or in general. I have not used Zamzar yet myself, I’ve used the YouTube Downloader previously to make offline FLV copies of movies. The great thing about Zamzar is you don’t have to just download the video in FLV format: you can specify the format you want. After you make your selection, you are emailed a link when the file has been converted that lets you download it in the format you’ve selected.

Very cool! And very free! 🙂

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  • I do have the FireFox video downloader extension and use it quite a bit for YouTube videos. I have a SmartBoard in my classroom and the SmartNotebook software actually imports .flv files better than any other video files.

    I have heard of (but haven’t yet used) http://vixy.net. From what I’ve read about it you can take a YouTube video and save it in almost any format.

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  • I know it has been suggested that we need to RETHINK a few things, but is any one concerned with the ethics of downloading someone else’s work? I believe in giving credit where credit is due…and with all of these download and conversion programs it makes it so easy for folks to grab and claim work as their own, especially tech savy kids who have teachers who may not be so…Do copyright rules apply? I think ALL classroom teachers need to become copyright experts–thoughts?

  • Ethics and respect for intellectual property rights are VERY important issues for us all, and they certainly are brought to the forefront with new media like online video. I posted some resources about these issues of potential use to teachers in Monday’s post, “Resources on copyright”.

  • Sandy

    Another cool program (not free but only $15.00 to register) is tubesock….The tubesock site (http://stinkbot.com/Tubesock/) says

    “TubeSock 2.0 downloads YouTube or DailyMotion videos from the web and saves them to your video iPod, Mac, or PlayStation Portable. TubeSock knows how to convert the video using the codecs and bitrates best for each device. It can even add the video to iTunes for you.”

  • Wes – any plans for transferring your YouTube videos to TeacherTube? Would love to be able to share them with my teachers!

    Thanks!

  • Wes,

    Thanks for the positive words about TeacherTube. We intend for the site to be school friendly and hope schools see it as such. BTW I attended your session at T+L in Dallas. Good stuff — lots to think about.

    Jodie
    jodie@teachertube.com
    teachertube.blogspot.com

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