YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

Summary: I generally haven't been inclined to block YouTube in schools. Despite the countless videos of kids skateboarding, extraordinary amounts of educational content are there for the taking.


I generally haven't been inclined to block YouTube in schools. Despite the countless videos of kids skateboarding, extraordinary amounts of educational content are there for the taking. Here, for example, is everything you ever wanted to know about distillation:

Unfortunately, it looks as though the junk is quickly on its way to overwhelming the good. Ars Technica is reporting on the so-called carpet-bombing effort to fill YouTube with pornography:

Today, May 20, has been deemed "Porn Day" by denizens of 4chan and eBaum's World, with an organized group of users from the sites uploading video clips of explicit, adult content en masse in an attempt to overwhelm the search results. In actuality, it appears that content was prematurely uploaded on the afternoon of the 19th. YouTube has already taken some steps to fight back, but it's disturbingly easy to find stuff you really don't want to see, and the uploaders are changing tactics.

What this means is that we need to train our teachers and provide them with easy tools to deliver appropriate content to their students. No more, "Hey kids, put together a PowerPoint presentation and feel free to search for some resources on YouTube." YouTube does make it incredibly easy to embed video on the web and now has tools for excluding those "related videos," which are all too often a source of said junk.

Therefore, we need to train our teachers to place videos on their own websites or blogs or, better yet, use a site like Fliggo to really isolate useful video content from the rest of YouTube. How many of your teachers know how to embed a YouTube video in a blog? There's no need to throw out the baby with the bath water in terms of online video, but there is a real need for increased vigilance and helping teachers find new ways to clearly direct instruction around useful video.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Yes, no blunt force baby bath water.

    Too often our schools officials don't have any imaginative powers to find solutions, and just ban a whole genre of creative options for teachers and students.

    Thanks for the tip on using Fliggo. I have been amazed at how fast I can learn something by watching a video, versus reading a book, (especially computer applications where there is a bunch of pointing and clicking). It should be REQUIRED that teachers learn to use video in their course curriculum.

    Keep up the good work, your articles are always intersting.
  • RE: YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools


    Not to sound like a commercial, but there is another alternative - the development of more sophisticated content filters that allow you to meet CIPA requirements and access YouTube videos stripped of the porn, commercial info, etc.

    Lightspeed Systems ( has recently added functionality to our Total Traffic Control product (an all-in-one filtering, spam-blocking, network management solution for schools) to allow network managers to host "clean, educational appropriate" YouTube videos within the product. By policy, district can decide to trust everyone to post, only teachers, only teacher after a curricular review, etc.

    We call this feature our Educational Video Library - today it is limited to YouTube videos and cannot be shared outside of your district. This summer's update will expand the type of content that can be posted (and tagged, searched, etc.) in this manner and it will be optionally shared with other institutions.

    Let us know if you have any questions.

    Joel Heinrichs, CEO
    Lightspeed Systems

    PS: And avid reader - your blog is excellent.+
    • super filter

      How do you keep the kids on task?
  • RE: YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

    What about SchoolTube?


    • Teacher Tube School Support

      I am generally an advocate of less blocking and more education, however with the push of useless and demeaning videos on YouTube, its not a place for students to be wandering around.

      TeacherTube has just come out with a school support program.
  • RE: YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

    Interesting problem. Perhaps YouTube's Education category
    becomes actively moderated with access through its own
    url allowing school districts to block
    and permit and feel safe that only
    moderated Education videos are presented or linked.

    Perhaps, like Apple's App Store, people and institutions
    would have to apply and pay a nominal one-time fee in
    order to submit to the category. Submission via institution
    would be preferred, e.g., a University of California faculty
    member would give their video to the press office who
    would then perform a first pass of vetting. Institutions
    which do not take their first filtering duties seriously will
    have their submissions privileges suspended until the
    institution reapplies.

    There will be cries of YouTube censorship as judgement
    call rejections for polemical submissions are made at the
    hot button intersections of education, religion, and
    politics, but any submitters are certainly free to self-host
    or post in the non-Education categories.

  • RE: YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

    ;You Tube and many other services are Great, but, they need registration centers and an alternative URL for educational usage requiring the registration of posting entities that would then be able to post to an area where schools and other professional types of usage would be better served. Without this registration your posts would go into the public basket allowing the rights of those who wish to post less than appropriate types of video to still be allowed without censorship.
  • Its often not the video that is at issue.

    The talkbacks alone make me want to avoid the place...
  • It's a dilemma

    Our Geography teachers are paticularly keen on Youtube, regularly placing clips in their web pages. Modern Languages do so as well. Actually lots of teachers do. So they would be very hacked off by a blanket ban.

    We are a boarding school, kids are here 24/7 so it would be equally unfair to ban all recreational access.

    Porn is an issue we haven't ignored but haven't really got a grip on with youtube. We ban xxx sites just like most institutions do. Youtube have traditionally been pretty good at separating porn from the run-of-the-mill, and we can prevent students from saying they're over 18. That may be naive. If Youtube's systems fail we'll think again.

    Can we do without youtube? Not unless all the other teachers and lecturers who have uploaded to Youtube can be persuaded to go elsewhere. There's too much good content up there!

    On the other hand I'd love to do without video sites in general. Students suck our bandwidth into non-existence looking at videos and playing internet music continually.

    With a decent firewall we can apportion appropriate amounts of bandwidth for different purposes; another thought is to introduce a daily quota. A good deal less than a DVD's worth :-) If they can't do their academic work because they've frittered their bandwidth away they can crash and burn. They'll learn.
  • RE: YouTube increasingly less of an option in schools

    The problem is that if YouTube is blocked, then embedding doesn't help b/c the video will still not work.