Andy Warhol was right! Everyone can have their 15 minutes of fame on YouTube. An exponentially growing social networking phenomenon, people everywhere are filming themselves getting married, giving birth, and dying. Not only filming it, but putting it out there for everyone to see. YouTube contains more than 2 billion videos and is growing daily with a wide variety of subjects. While many videos on YouTube are personal, many are videos created to promote and to share ideas and information. Entering the term “marriage” brought up 354 000 videos. In the first 10 videos, there were clips about traditional marriage, gay marriage, arranged marriages, a Sesame Street trailer, the marriage scene from the Princess Bride movie, and one of a marriage proposal.
Big Brother is watching YouTube!
YouTube is blocked in most school districts, due to the lack of censorship of the site. Anyone is allowed to upload videos to YouTube, and the only monitors of videos that may be offensive or inappropriate are the users themselves. Users are allowed to flag videos and they are then reviewed by YouTube staff, using their Community Guidelines . Many educators who would love to use the site for educational purposes become frustrated when having to deal with their inability to present great videos for learning to their students.
Teacher Tube is a safe alternative that is usually not blocked by school servers. It’s a site that is run by and for, educators. It is often available when YouTube is blocked. It currently has about 200 000 videos, as opposed to YouTube’s two billion. On Teacher Tube, teachers upload a variety of videos:
- To teach ideas in new and creative ways: Mr. Duey’s Fraction Rap
- To inform and motivate each other: Making Student Engagement Work
- And, to my mind the most powerful, to have students create and upload videos of their work: Three Words To The World
While TeacherTube is a safe alternative, I believe that YouTube is the best choice, simply from the sheer amount of material that is available. For example, typing in ‘Volcano Eruption” brings up 5, 320 hits, most of which are dramatic views of volcanic eruptions. TeacherTube, on the other hand, brings up 13 hits, almost half of which are making a volcanic eruption in science class.
I am fortunate that my school only blocks YouTube for students. As a teacher, I am able to enter my username and password and bypass the restrictions. However, students remain blocked. Will Richardson suggests that, instead of blocking YouTube, we should teach students to be aware of and use critical thinking skills to deal with inappropriate content. This is imperative when we consider 21st century learners. They will be able to access massive amounts of information, and it is critical that we teach them the skills to select and evaluate which information is appropriate. And, after all, once they get home, they are able to watch whatever YouTube video they wish. The American Library Association says “YouTube is a social software application that could radically change how we look at library instruction and training . . . if we let it.” I would state that YouTube is a social software that could radically change all instruction, if we let it. After all, we know that today’s students are far more visual than the previous generation, and are connected to a wired world.
Learning about videosharing
As a mother of older teenagers, I have been familiar with YouTube for some time. Two years ago, when our school received projectors in every classroom, I began using YouTube, along with United Streaming (for which our district has a license) for a variety of subjects. The powerful images that were available were invaluable, especially in science and in health. Social was a bit more complicated, as most of the content is American. (I recommend using the Historica Minutes for Canadian content)
Searching for videos is one thing, creating them is another. Last year I took over our live broadcasting studio, MTV (Minchau TV). We have our morning announcements broadcast live from our TV studio every morning. My responsibility is to train announcers and technicians to man the station. Does this mean I am super-techie? No…I recruited students from our leadership team to be ‘station managers’ and THEY trained other students. Students write and produce videos for O Canada, fitness and character education, tape assemblies, and announce activities and special events. I oversee and, when there is trouble, I turn the computer on and off 🙂 . I am able to operate our videocams only because students have led me through the process.
A new technology I began using last year was the Flip video camera. Inspired by Kathy Cassidy’s blog, I was able to purchase four Flips which are available to be used by teachers. So far, we have taped Reader’s Theater, instructional videos, and storytelling. (Unfortunately, I am unable to share those videos due to FOIP restrictions.) Flip video cameras are simple to use, for grade one students, and even for me! This year, I am looking forward to using them for retelling favourite stories in kindergarten. As well, I discovered the ‘One Minute Critic’ on YouTube and am going to videotape some ‘One Minute Critic’ booktalks for our MTV broadcasts.
One new site I have played a bit with is Vodpod. Vodpod searches all video sharing sites for you using your criteria and allows you to upload, tag, share and store videos. It’s like your very own video channel. You can also create a group to share videos with, and post your videos to your blog. For example, I have shared some weather videos on my blog through the Vodpod widget, and I could share them with the grade five teachers in my school for an inquiry unit based on weather. I am still learning about Vodpod, so do not have too many videos in my collection yet. I see it as a tool I would use only when I need it for a specific unit, as in this case, creating a file of weather videos.
Videosharing in my own personal life and learning
Once again, my family has led the way for me in learning and using videosharing. I regularly watch video clips of my young nieces and nephews sent to me by my sisters-in-law. My children yell at me to come and watch this or that cool video clip. Will I videotape myself and others? Usually my videotaping is on par with my photo taking (see above post). Well, I did create a great video for Read-in this week, in which I interview ‘Fred’ from our ‘Fit with Fred’ DVDs we show at school (it’s not really Fred, but an actor friend of mine). Unfortunately, I was unable to load it today, as I forgot the wire thingy that connects it to the computer (note the highly technical language :)). So, I’ll have to take it to school and get one of my student technicians to load it for me.
Videosharing in teaching and learning
Using videosharing in the classroom is essential for our digital, 21st century learners. From the days of the filmstrip to video to DVD to YouTube, instructional videos help students visualize, see and understand the wider world. However, like teaching, videosharing can go beyond the ‘sit and get’ syndrome. Some educators are using vodcasting to create new instructional models. Aaron Samms and Jonathon Bergman, high school science teachers found a way to increase their time working with students on hands on activities. They prerecorded their daily lectures and assigned them as homework the night before. In this way, most of the learning time in class is focused on helping students with labs. They say students are learning more, and doing better.
Another way to use videosharing is to create videos that help students use assessment for learning. Our grade three students are taping themselves doing their Reader’s Theatre and then critiquing their own performance in order to improve. I regularly tape our MTV shows and we review them to see where we can get better.
Teachers can also create videos for exemplars. Here is a video of Kathy Cassidy’s grade one class demonstrating an exemplar of ‘Read to Self’ from The Daily Five.
However, I believe that the most powerful learning comes when we put the tools in the hands of students. Check out this story created by students.
Students can create and share: booktalks, digital stories, social studies projects, math tutorials, science experiments, and more. When they create and share their learning with their classmates and the world, it opens up many new possibilities for engaging, authentic teaching and learning.
Kist, W. (2010). The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Corwin.
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Corwin
Schaffhauser, D. (2009). The vod couple. THE Journal. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2009/08/09/Vodcasting.aspx?Page=1
Webb, P. (2007). YouTube and libraries: It could be a beautiful relationship. C&RL News, Vol. 68, No. 6. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crlnews/2007/jun/youtube.cfm
Wikipedia. (2010). YouTube. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube#Criticism
Wikipedia. (2010). YouTube. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube
YouTube. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines?gl=CA&hl=en