Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School


YouTube is blocked (appropriately so, in my opinion) by most school content filters. However, there are vast quantities of extraordinarily useful material on the site that would make for appropriate and enriching classroom content.

What’s a teacher to do?

Joyce Valenza just wrote When YouTube is blocked (seven ways around) which, as far as I can tell, is the definitive description out there about how to access appropriate YouTube content at school.  I strongly encourage readers to go to her post and bookmark it.

For this “The Best…” list, though, I thought I’d highlight two tools (one that’s on her list and one that is not) that I’ve found to be the easiest for a non-tech-savvy person like me to use.

Joyce’s first suggestion is to explore alternative sites like TeacherTube or SchoolTube where you can find YouTube videos that might have already been uploaded by teachers (or upload one yourself), and whose url addresses might not be blocked by School District filters.

I think that’s a great idea. I use that option frequently. However, my preference is Edublogs TV, a sister organization to Edublogs. I use it a lot for one of my United States History classes, and have found it to be super-easy to upload YouTube videos and then have students view it from there. (Edublogs has gone temporarily off-line and is preparing to relaunch later in 2011) A site called Watch Know is another alternative. ) VuSafe is a new site that lets you identify videos from YouTube and other sources and have students watch them without their gaining access to other inappropriate ones.

Richard Byrne shared a tutorial on how to use SchoolTube to access YouTube videos. In addition to reading the very useful tutorial, it would be important to go to Richard’s blog and read the caution he shares.

Download Tube is a new application that easily lets you download a video to your computer from the Web. It works very easily to download videos to your laptop from sites like YouTube that are blocked by school content filters. Then they can be shown in school. (A reader writes that using this app caused an alert on his anti-virus program. I haven’t had a similar experience, but let me know if you have) YouTube Catcher ; Catch YouTube and Media Converter are similar applications.

Another recommendation that Joyce makes that I’ve used is the web tool Zamzar. YouTube doesn’t offer a way to download and save their videos, so you have to use a site like Zamzar to do so and save it on a Flash Drive (or your laptop) or make it accessible via an email link. Tony Vincent doesn’t appear to have updated his blog in a year, but his post on Download YouTube Videos And Use Them at School still provides the best step-by-step description on how to use Zamzar that I’ve seen.

If you use Dropbox, Videodropper could be a good option.

Again, I encourage you to visit Joyce’s post. You might prefer some of her other ideas.

I hope that some day, maybe even soon, our School District will allow teachers to access YouTube. If and when that day comes, it would be nice to be able to show videos without all the clutter that accompanies a YouTube video on the screen. Here are a couple of easy web tools that let you do just that — just copy and paste the url address of the video and you get all the other stuff eliminated:

Safe Share TV

View Pure

YouTube has created YouTube For Schools.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I have another method I shared on my site in a post entitled How to Show YouTube and Other Internet Video at School Easily. Using the DownloadHelper extension for Firefox, almost any video is downloadable and can be converted to whatever type you can play. All of the software is free.

  2. There’s also a website called KickYouTube which does basically the same thing without additional software to download. Read more about it at Lifehacker.

  3. I use It works and has the higher quality mp4 for download.

    That said, I’m weaning myself off of youtube.

    1) There is a great consolidation (aka – the great web AD grab) going on and lots of educational material is being taken down. I for one got thrown off, no dialogue, just account cancelled.

    2) the quality sucks! I blow up the videos but many are just horribly distorted.

    3) they keep changing their API and ruining everyone who tries to build anything to create some kind of aggregation from their catalogue. Every unfriendly for those who want to promote educational materials. They do this for a reason…. ($$$ Ads).

    I just recently put up an amazing page of NFB films on EFL Classroom 2.0 . Free, stream high quality, one click. VERY educational and not at all full of the “for the most part” tittilation that youtube offers now. There is a lot on youtube for us — the problem, they offer poor ways to share. I give that the thumbs down in this day and age. Use NFB and many other sites which are educator friendly…. Next, will come the PBS video page!

    Happy holidays,


  4. I hope you all will keep WatchKnow ( in mind as well, as we ramp up toward a loud public launch in 2009.

  5. Hi Larry, great post.

    I use aTube Catcher. It’s free, very easy to use and you can download the videos in different formats. I prefer .avi, that way we can watch them in the computer or in a DVD player that reads avi files.

    Also, I like to download the videos I’m going to use in my lessons. You never know when you are going to have problems with the internet connection.

  6. My district is doing what I think is the best policy. They are opening up youtube for teacher and administrative logins, while blocking it on student logins. So I will be able to easily show educational appropriate things on my teacher station/projector, but students are protected.

  7. In Germany it’s against copyright legislation to present a downloaded YouTube clip in class – as we always have Murphy’s Law to consider, and usually our school’s uplink speed (DSL 16 only if you are very lucky) is shared by several classes simultaneously, the legal way (stream in class) is not seldomly a path bound for utter frustration…

  8. Another option (along the lines of Zamzar and TubeCatcher) is Real Player. Starting sometime last year, the free version of RealPlayer integrated with your browser to let you click on any flash video and download it.

    This works great on most sites (YouTube, news sites). Sometimes it doesn’t work because the site seems to wrap the content in a second flash movie (like watching episodes of the Daily Show on their website), tho. For sites on which it works, it’s incredibly convenient – a little icon appears next to the flash movie, and you click it if you want to download it.

    I love this because, like Pilar said, you never know when you’re going to have connection issues. If I want to show something from a news site, I’d rather download it than stream it, because sometimes the connection is so slow that the stream just won’t work.

  9. Pingback: How to create video activities on a teacher’s blog (by Christina Markoulaki) – Teaching Village

  10. I’m going to throw a second to

    I use it extensively and I find it the easiest way to get videos done. You can find your videos on youtube and link them up to be watched in class. It’s really a great resource.

  11. Pingback: How to create video activities on a teacher’s blog (by Christina Markoulaki) « Cambridge ESOL South East Europe

  12. one is can also be used as youtube sipmle downloader is . It’s free and was safe for my PC (because I always aware of freeware tools – they may contain viruses). So this one is handy and also allows doanload dailymotion, metacafe and vimeo videos.

  13. Hotspot Shield VPN ( ) lets you access YouTube from school computers.

  14. I’d like to make another recommendation for downloading YouTube videos. I know this sounds like a sponsor or cheap plug kind of thing, but Ummy ( has been really awesome for me. It is a downloadable and I thought it could come with a virus or ask for money or whatever, but it’s just a program that lets you put in the URL of any youtube video and download it in any video quality or MP3. No B.S., I even asked if I could donate money for how much I use it, and they said they’re not about that. It’s a refreshingly simple and free program that I’d highly recommend.

  15. I use Allavsoft to download video from schooltube, lynda, udemy, digital tutors etc
    I like its batch downloading and directly download video to any video or audio format.

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