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.

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