04 August 2013

To YouTube or not to YouTube. That is the question.

Video, ViewTube, Viewoogle & Vimeo

Picasa and Google Doc/Drive Videos are my preferred medium for video use and the sharing of video. However YouTube is still the number one video viewing option on the web, and we'd be mad to ignore it. There are some good reasons for using YouTube with your students, what are those? Well there are some times when utilsing your YouTube account is handy, for teachers as well as students. When? I’ll tell you when ... Firstly though—

Why is YouTube a problem? 

Mainly because of its exposure - as the number one video sharing tool on the planet it is the best way to get your work seen by as many eyeballs as possible - which, in theory at least, could be a good thing, if that is what you want (see later note on this) but for most educational purposes there is a distinct discomfort with that kind of exposure when kids are learning, and wrestling with learning - YouTube can be a cruel place, and you are in danger of being exposed to a LOT of undesirables if you just put it out there - especially if you allow viewers to leave comments, and likes and dislikes, this can be potentially destructive for anyone, never mind our students.

Unwanted/inappropriate advertising

One of the major drawbacks of using YouTube is working against Google’s determination to make money out of it - namely pushing advertising at the eyeballs that are so interested in your video. Usually the ‘mosaic’ viewers will see at the end is harmless, but the problem is that you have no control over this (You do with Vimeo though). Nor do you have control over the ‘recommended’ videos that appear in the panel at the end. So you have to ask yourself - are you prepared to take that risk? This will very much depend on the age of the kids you are directing to watch the video. These adverts are becoming increasingly more invasive. There are ways around this which I will outline below, but the fact is most of our kids are inclined to just upload and not to think even once, never mind twice about the settings that are necessary to mitigate these problems. If you want your kids to use YouTube, you need to make sure you consider how to use it properly.

So, are the ways around these undesirable elements? I think so.

Use YouTube via a Google Site

Inserting a YouTube video into a Google Site effectively bypasses the advertising - at the end of the video there is no mosaic, there is a tiny YouTube logo, which will take them to YouTube with a click, but lets face it, they can do that by just typing ‘YouTube’ into the browser anyway.


www.viewpure.com allows you to remove all the clutter around the sides, but you still get a ‘mosaic’ at the end...

Why would you use YouTube?


If you want maximum exposure, you WANT the publicity - YouTube is the way to achieve this. Maybe your students have put together a stunning short film designed to move as many people as possible to action - well YouTube is the place to put it if you hope to get as many eyeballs as possible, and the motivation of ‘views’ and ‘likes’ is undeniable - BUT and it’s a big but, kids need to be aware of the measures they have to take to protect their fragile egos. My advice? Maybe disable comments (although this means they won't get an positive feedback either). Certainly look very closely at the options before (or after - it’s never too late to change!) publishing, and make sure they have considered the implications of the various options - there aren’t that many.

Google Presentations

Uploading via YouTube is the only avenue currently available to students (and staff) who want to use their own videos in a Google Presentation.

Video for viewing on an iOS Device (iPad etc)

If you’re creating a ‘web log’ (blog) with blogger, using video other than YouTube is annoyingly fiddly - something that will no doubt improve - but for now ... Even if you do manage to get it to work without YouTube it won’t display on an iOS device. You can use Vimeo to get around this but it’s a little complicated (can anything BE a ‘little’ complicated? It involves ‘embedding’ using HTML code - se what I mean?). Using YouTube for Blogger is relatively easy - BUT, and this leads to my next point..

Easy Export

The way YouTube is integrated into the actual operating system of the Mac and all iOS devices really makes it an option for sharing that you have to consider - you know your students will. It’s there, it’s obvious - so why would you not use it? Well the reasons above for a start - but also, increasingly our students will need to store exported video in a format that is owned by them, that is not stuck in YouTube, or technically owned by YouTube. An actual video file sitting safe and sound in their own drive, where it can be uploaded, edited, repurposed however, and whenever they want is far more preferable. Downloading video from YouTube is a far from a straightforward exercise*,

But ... isn't sharing video direct to YouTube an easy option? 

Yes, as long as it is short. Is it easy? Yes. But I would advise you to use it for more adhoc use, ie less ‘essential’ more temporal video - maybe sharing a work in progress, a simple observation, an interesting but not pivotal moment. Or as a backup plan of other methods fail - you can download it from YouTube later, albeit at a less than stellar quality.

So I only use YouTube when I am convinced that I have exhausted all my other options, these are, specifically, in order of preference:

Google Drive/Docs Video

* Use a site like www.dirpy.com or even better the FireFox Add-on ‘Easy YouTube Video Downloader’.