YouTube is a Powerful, Sure bet for Delivering Video Content, but What can you do About all the Distractions, and Privacy? Read on …
Do you want to be able to use YouTube in your class, but are concerned about exposing students to the distractions that surround it? Worse yet, inappropriate content may be displayed, which is a huge concern for younger students in particular.
Well I am here to provide a few approaches to solving that problem. You can use YouTube to host and deliver videos safely, without the distractions.
This Image is Licensed CC BY SA 3.0
Concerns about this come up whenever I teach Flipped Class techniques. Using YouTube to deliver content is easy and helps to ensure that students will be able to watch the content. But it's easy for them to get distracted or to be exposed to the wrong kinds of content, unless you take a little extra precaution (and know how to).
Another consideration that is also often voiced is privacy. If you've created the content yourself, or if content is created by or features students, you may want or need to be able to deliver content in a way that is not publicly accessible.
The following tools and techniques offer a mix of privacy and safe delivery approaches that should help you meet your needs.
Technique Number 1: Unlisted and Embedded
One approach to providing some level of privacy and limiting distractions is to deliver a YouTube video in a private tool like an LMS or other member-based environment where you can embed YouTube code (if you aren't sure how to use embed code, this video will help).
If you set your video to “Unlisted” when you upload it, no one will be able to find it through searches, and it won't display on your channel or playlists (the only way anyone can access it is if they have the URL). If you then use the embed code to deliver the video in a separate, private site, only those who have access to that site will see it and they will only see the video and none of the ‘visual clutter' that typically surrounds YouTube videos.
Unfortunately, there are are still a couple downsides to this approach. It is not 100% private, since viewers could click on the video link at the top of the embedded video and this will open it in YouTube, where they could then copy the link and send it to someone else. It is also not 100% distraction-free, because at the end of the video, a bunch of related videos will be displayed in a tiled format (I wish Google/YouTube offered an option to turn that off for selected videos).
Technique Number 2: SafeShare
An alternative that solves one of the limitations of the above approach is SafeShare (safeshare.tv).
SafeShare lets you deliver any YouTube video with zero distractions – there are no suggested videos at the end. It is super easy to use … you just paste in a YouTube video URL and click on “Generate Safe Link” and you get a SafeShare URL where it can be watched with no distractions (here is an example of a video delivered using SafeShare: http://safeshare.tv/w/rUfRCaMGwK).
Note that you cannot see or access the original video URL. However, you have to provide the SafeShare URL, which can obviously be shared, and you can't embed SafeShare content, so the privacy issue isn't really addressed through this tool. However, there are a couple other cool things it let's you do though that are worth knowing about.
Crop Videos is a couple clicks! Another cool feature of SafeShare is that it let's you easily crop videos before you deliver them. You can cut off as much of the beginning and/or end of a video as you want, and what remains is all students will see. It's easy to use … after you paste in a URL and click “Generate Safe Link”, use the Customize Video function, then click on “Full” (next to “Play Length”) it you will get an interface where you can play some of the video and click to tell it where you want to to start, and then also tell it where to.
Download: SafeShare also lets viewers download videos as either mp3 or mp4 files, which can be very useful, but it's important to comply with copyright laws. I wish they would allow this function to be turned off (like they do for the social media ‘share' function).
Technique Number 3: TubeChop
I really like this one – it may be the best of all. Much like SafeShare, TubeChop lets you cut off as much of the beginning or end of a YouTube video and deliver it in a custom mode. But it also let's you embed the result! Here's an example – I cropped an existing video down to just about 10 seconds of it:
Notice that not only are there no distractions, and you also can't find or share the original video URL or the TubeChop URL! So if you deliver this in a private tool like an LMS, Edmodo, a members-only Wiki or Website, etc., it is truly private. Awesome. I would note that TubeChop is really best when it can be embedded, since if you just share the TubeChop URL for the edited video (example here), the delivery is still a bit cluttered, and not private.
Technique Number 4: YouTube for Schools
YouTube does provide special functionality for schools, with a focus on keeping content “school-appropriate”, but you must be a Google EDU customer to use it. Click here to learn more and sign up: www.youtube.com/schools. (Note that as of the publication date of this article, Google has had a banner up for some time stating that they realize there are issues with the sign up process “flow” for this service and they intend to fix it. I am not aware of the specifics of this.)
YouTube for schools shouldn't be confused with YouTube EDU or YouTube.com/teachers, which are separate functions. Click here (and then click on the second item in the list) for clarification.
I should also add that Google is constantly tweaking the layout of YouTube and a zillion other things about it, so this guidance may become obsolete pretty quickly.
Technique Number 5: QuietTube
One last option that looks interesting is QuietTube. QuietTube is an add-on that provides a button you can use to easily create a custom QuietTube URL for any YouTube video, which then let's it be played without distractions. Unfortunately, dragging and dropping the button that provides the functionality didn't work for me in Moodle or IE. The tutorial video they provide on the home page shows them using Chrome, so maybe it only works in Chrome.
Which Option is Best for You and Your Students?
The answer to this question really depends on your specific circumstances and your needs.
- If you aren't concerned about privacy, all of these tools can result in reduced or eliminated distractions (SafeShare and TubeChop are great for that).
- If you are a Google Education customer already, it is presumably worth exploring YouTube for Schools.
- Lastly, if privacy is a concern and you have the ability to embed content in a private content delivery vehicle for your students, TubeChop is probably perfect.
I hope you will drop a comment and let us know how you make out with these tools if you try them, or tell us about alternatives you may know about. This is an important and challenging issue for many educators, so your feedback is sought after and welcomed!
YouTube logo CC BY SA 3.0: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solid_color_You_Tube_logo.png