Thanks to a post from the ever-helpful and prolific Richard Byrne, I learned about the website WatchKnow. According to the website’s about page:

Imagine collecting all the best free educational videos made for children, and making them findable and watchable on one website. Then imagine creating many, many more such videos… WatchKnow—as in, “You watch, you know”—has started building this resource.

As Richard noted in his post yesterday, “Survey – How To Respond to YouTube Being Blocked” – the YouTube website must be unblocked for WatchKnow videos to play in your location. The site reminds me of Totlol, which recently became a members-only website and is designed for parents of toddlers. WatchKnow is free and designed for older learners. The idea of creating a filtered and vetted resource for high quality educational videos found on YouTube is an excellent one, and certainly needs more than one entrepreneur or group seeking to meet this need.

All of the “selected blog posts” on the WatchKnow “press” webpage are from October 2009, so I was apparently asleep at the keyboard when many others became aware of the site last month. As Kevin Jarrett noted, the site is “people powered,” so it relies on contributions from members. This short (almost 5 minute) video explains how it works.

Larry Sanger, the co-founder of WikiPedia, is the founder of WatchKnow and is the primary narrator of the above video.

In the project “Unmasking the Digital Truth,” school district leaders are encouraged to provide differentiated content filtering for teachers and students. This means teachers are given more trust in the form of “access rights” on the network than students. Those additional access rights should definitely include the website YouTube, which is required for access and use of WatchKnow.

On the subject of high quality educational videos, I also should put in a plug for Next Vista for Learning. It is setup in an entirely different way from WatchKnow, but is also a non-profit organization focused on providing access to high quality educational videos for students around the world.

Check out both these educational video resources and consider using them to find and share educational videos with your students. Whether or not these resources are blocked at your school, I encourage you to take Richard Byrne’s survey on educator responses to YouTube access censorship. If YouTube is blocked in your school district, consider contributing ideas to the “Unmasking the Digital Truth” project and acting on those ideas locally so more digital learning resources can become available for educators as well as students in your school. It’s exciting to see projects like WatchKnow and NextVista growing. It will be even more exciting when the day dawns when all these educational resources are accessible on the networks we fund for our schools as taxpayers.

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  • http://citrushighschool.edublogs.org Jerry Swiatek

    Wes,
    One way I get around YouTube being blocked in my district is by using http://fliggo.com. Fliggo allows users to create their own video channels. These videos can include YouTube videos which are easily transferred from YouTube to Fliggo. I haven’t found a district that had Fliggo blocked, so this is yet another way to get around the YouTube blocks.

    @jswiatek

  • http://freetech4teachers.com Richard Byrne

    Thank you for the mention of my blog and survey.
    In reading your post I was reminded of a refrain that a former principal used in our school, “do what’s best for kids.” I think most school administrators want to “do what’s best for kids.” Our challenge as educators is to show more administrators that access to sites like WatchKnow is in the best interest of kids.

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