YouTube in the Classroom

Network Filtering: Hmmm.........

Philadelphia is one of those districts that blocks YouTube. I struggle with the filtering system we have here in Philly.

On one hand, I am very supportive of it since many teachers have terrible classroom management or don't seem to think twice when they let their students have 'free time' on the computer. However, these 'rotten apples' ruin if for the whole bunch of us apples who have GOOD classroom management and, as a good parent would, monitor what our students are doing on the computer. Legally, SDP cannot afford to NOT block YouTube. Legally, they have to filter certain material (adult content, violence, social networking.....) to receive E-Rate money to support its large infrastructure.

On the other hand, I am frustrated that teachers do not monitor what their students are doing on school computers. After all, there is a 4 page Acceptable Use Policy that I make all of my 4-6th grade students sign in order to use the computers at all. I also think that teachers should consider themselves the responsible adult at school. Would they want their child's teacher letting their child go anywhere on the internet unsupervised? We get requests from people to block internet radio sites because their students keep listening to them. Easy solution: you abuse your internet privelege, you lose it. Blocking things do not teach students lessons. When they go home, they are exposed to EVERYTHING!!! We are skating around teaching our children to be responsible Digital Citizens by pretending that these kinds of things don't exist.

Would I Use It?

So would I use YouTube? It's hard to say. I think it'd be useful for instructional videos that either I create or find, but it would require heavy monitoring to make sure that students are not straying from the assigned material. I would probably use TeacherTube for these kinds of things, though the educational videos on TeacherTube are not of high quality like those on YouTube. I would probably give it a try and see how it goes and 'play it by ear.'

I do agree with the article "Is Education Ready for YouTube?" that our students go home to a digital world and watch movies and videos constantly, so using this format to reach them in an educational way cannot be thrown aside. Proper use of this tool must be explicitly taught in structured lessons and activities, and Acceptable Use Policies must be well known and signed by all users (adult and student!)

Aside from Digital Citizenship, how will schools/districts/teachers handle putting student-created works up on the web? For a student's image to be publicly displayed a parent needs to sign a waiver. How will parents feel about their child's image being displayed on a global network? How will students react to their personal projects, which are, by law copyright protected, being displayed publicly with the possibility for wider dispersal, exposure and theft?

Digital Citizenship Resources

Cyber Smart Curriculum - Grade-appropriate lessons on being safe and responsible in the digital world.

Ms. Hertz's Internet Saftey bookmarks - kid-friendly sites about being safe on the internet - information for parents on keeping kids safe on the internet


  • MaryBeth, Here is something you can do. I know you are one of those "plan ahead" teachers so...Get RealPlayer. The realplayer will download the videos for you... then you can watch them in the day. Try it... every thing you watch can be saved with RP.

  • Youtube is one of those resources that I'm not sure I could teach without. I'd certainly need to change my projects a bit... because about half of what I do is based on the work of people on Youtube.

    For example, this past year I had an eighth grade technology class who wanted to do video. We'd already learned how to storyboard for an animation project we did, so it wasn't a stretch to delve into video. I asked the question "what sort of video should we do - as a class (or in groups) - that would be fun, quick (had only 2 weeks left in the year), and memorable?" I gave them options to do a LipDub, a Stop-Motion, or a Commoncraft-style "Papermation" video. Using youtube the kids were able to preview all three types of videos, we were able to find "making of:" videos, and were able to complete the projects without any real hiccups. I could have done it without Youtube, but allowing them to search for their own examples and get so many different ideas... The worst part of Youtube is the comments, so we now use the BetterYouTube Extension for Firefox to hide the comments.

    In the real world there are bad things around every corner... what we ought to be teaching our kids is how to avoid them rather than simply pretending that they don't exist. My 2cents.

  • Thanks for the idea of the Firefox Extension. I will be hopefully using YouTube this summer with the camp I'm working at. For now, I think I'm stuck with TeacherTube for uploading video in the district. Because of E-Rate grants, they'll never unblock YouTube, and Google stopped allowing uploads :(

Save Trees: Don't print me!