Monday, November 14, 2011

The Youtube Scandal

OK, so how many of you have had this nightmare before: You spend hours the night before planning  great lesson. In fact, you even found an amazing Youtube video to go right along with your lesson. Thankfully for you, your school district has Youtube open for teachers. You save the link and can hardly sleep for excitement for the next day ... your kids are going to really get this!

The next day rolls around and you are ready to go. You have the Youtube video queued. Word of your amazing lesson even reached the principal, who is there to watch the magic happen.

You pull up the link. Before you can press play, one of your students asks, "what's that?" and points to the screen. The rest of the class is between giggles and ewwwwws. Your principal's face is turning a brighter shade of red by the minute and if you could just sink into the ground or just wake up ...

No? Have you lived it? I'll tell you what, it's getting to the point that I have to preview everything on Youtube just to see what pops up around it anymore. I know what I want to show, but the unknown is the junk that pops up after it -- so-called recommendations, and the ads and whatnot around it. Argh! One of my favorite Youtube videos to grab and show my students is the Dove Evolution commercial. I pair it with PBS Kids' Don't Buy It "Secrets of a Magazine Cover Model" to teach students about the challenges we face with beauty perception in the US. Anyways, Dove's Evolution is a brilliant time lapse of a photo shoot for a billboard and all of the hair and makeup and graphics editing that goes into the perfect picture. Great video, great message, but there's like a 100 different gnarly parodies ... and let's not forget the naked lady that shows up in the recommendations each time. Not really what I'd like my elementary students to see.

Now, let me set the story straight: I love Youtube. I do. I teach media literacy and without Youtube, well, much of the content that I deliver to my students would be soo 1999. So, all hail Youtube. (I draw the line at a tattoo.)

OK, so what's the solution with all of the "extras" that come along with the video you're showing your class? Well, technology technically provides you with a plethora of solutions, including downloading and converting the file with a converter. Hmm, I'm no copyright expert, but I'm not too convinced there isn't a legality issue here. Furthermore, it's time consuming. Just keep in mind that although your car can reach speeds greater than 70 mph, there's still a speed limit to obey.

You could embed the video into another site. Doesn't take long, but do you have a site handy to drop a youtube video into? Maybe, maybe not. The nice thing about embedding a video is that it allows you to uncheck the recommendations at the end. You are left with the video you wanted in a custom video player of your choice in size and color. Everybody together now: oooooooh ...

OK, onward to option 2. Ninja reflexes. You heard me, be like the ninja. Prepare link ahead of time. Open with lightning quick speed. Faster than a tiger blinks, open to full screen. Your ninja reflexes must be honed well to close video at end. Your students will not know what hit them.

No time to visit the dojo? There's always The Talk. No, not that one. You know the one I'm talking about: "You are all very mature young people. ..." Uh, yeah ...

OK, really, there is a solution that does not require you to put the smackdown on Youtube or even get a blackbelt. Actually, I've got 2 solutions for you, young Padawan.

Quietube: Quietube is a bookmarklet that snuggles itself in your bookmark tool bar between your Diigolet and your bookmarklets. Easy to use, just drag the Quietube bookmarklet down to cover up all of the unnecessary stuff surrounding your Youtube video. You can even change too a black background (I prefer this, especially when the lights are out in the room.) Pros: very quick, also works on Vimeo and Viddler videos. Cons: Recommendations still show up at the end of the video. Solution: stop 1 second short.

SafeShare.TV: Faster than embedding a video. More efficient than a file converter, it's SafeShare.TV!!! Mad props to Richard Byrne (@Start_Teaching) for sharing out this one on Twitter this evening. SafeShare.TV is super easy to use. Copy the Share link in Youtube for the video you want and open up SafeShare.TV. Paste the video into the middle of the TV and your video will pop up in a nice, snuggly box, free from all of the that stuff on the sides that teacher nightmares are made of. Best of all, you can sit back and relax because SafeShare.TV even gets rid of those annoying video recommendations at the end. Pros: SafeShare.TV rocks. That is all. Cons: Sorry folks, Vimeo and Viddler videos need not apply. SafeShare only works with Youtube.

With that, I have taught you what I could. Go forth and conquer all of those great crowd-sourced video sites. Be like the ninja .... ;-)

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