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Can someone point me to a good rationale for allowing YouTube for students?

Our tech dept. has recently added additional Internet bandwidth which can help us accommodate more video traffic. Before allowing student access to YouTube we want to make sure we have a clear rationale and that we process the decision with the appropriate people (administrative team, faculty, etc).

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Hi Judy,

I argued this point as a high school teacher, and there are many rationales to allowing students to access previously blocked sites (such as YouTube), depending on your context. Here a few that I've heard:

- as teachers of 21st century learners, we have a responsibility to model/teach students appropriate use of technology, rather than simply blocking it

- YouTube contains some valuable, free educational content (shocking, I know!). In fact, using http://youtube.com/edu sorts out the videos to those tagged with education, and further divided by subject area

- if worried about content, there are sites to help combat that: http://www.safeshare.tv/ is one that I'm aware of

- downloading videos (using Firefox download toolbar) and using clips can lead to some pretty amazing projects -- 2 years in a row, I've had my Grade 10s make 'protest videos' about a globalization issue by piecing together existing pictures and video clips

- "acceptable use" forms can be signed by students and used as leverage should disciplinary issues ever arise with their use of YouTube

- your more sophisticated techie students are already accessing YouTube by using a proxy breaker (such as 'get on any site'

I am a firm believer that students will often try harder to get around a rule if it's in place, rather than use something inappropriately that's available to them. I can tell you, once I gave students access to YouTube and had a logical discussion about why certain things aren't OK to do on school networks, the novelty wore off in about 2 weeks, and I rarely found a student on YouTube unless they were a.) done their work and filling 2 minutes of free time or b.) using it for a school project.

I hope this list helps! Let me know how it goes...
Vanessa
Thanks Vanessa. I think the most of the technology/teacher staff is on board. We need talking points for our administrators, school board and parent constituencies. You have provided some valuable talking points.
After scouring the web, one of the best places to look for YouTube rationale is:

Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog: Do U UTube?

"There are two factors to consider when deciding to block or not block YouTube.

First is content. While plenty of YouTube content is worthless and/or tasteless, my understanding is that none is pornographic or in violation of copyright. (Some bad language, granted.) So none of YouTube falls under the CIPA requirements that sites that are "obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors" be blocked. Nor does a teacher or student violate any copyright laws by using YouTube materials. Oh, and YouTube really does have a lot of material that our teachers use for class purposes - especially materials on popular culture and current events.

Second is bandwidth. When you have a lot of people streaming video via YouTube (or any other video site like TeacherTube), it may slow down your network. This is a standard reason that a lot of tech people give for blocking YouTube. Our solution to this problem has been to employ a packetshaper on the network that will prioritize traffic and gives YouTube a low bandwidth priority. Users will only get video as bandwidth is available."

See dozens of comments to this blog post. Worthwhile reading. Most who responded DO NOT have YouTube blocked at their schools.


Judy Gressel
New Trier Librarian
Answering my own inquiry.
After scouring the web, one of the best places to look for YouTube rationale is:

Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog: Do U UTube?

"There are two factors to consider when deciding to block or not block YouTube.

First is content. While plenty of YouTube content is worthless and/or tasteless, my understanding is that none is pornographic or in violation of copyright. (Some bad language, granted.) So none of YouTube falls under the CIPA requirements that sites that are "obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors" be blocked. Nor does a teacher or student violate any copyright laws by using YouTube materials. Oh, and YouTube really does have a lot of material that our teachers use for class purposes - especially materials on popular culture and current events.

Second is bandwidth. When you have a lot of people streaming video via YouTube (or any other video site like TeacherTube), it may slow down your network. This is a standard reason that a lot of tech people give for blocking YouTube. Our solution to this problem has been to employ a packetshaper on the network that will prioritize traffic and gives YouTube a low bandwidth priority. Users will only get video as bandwidth is available."

See dozens of comments to this blog post. Worthwhile reading. Most who responded DO NOT have YouTube blocked at their schools.


Judy Gressel
New Trier Librarian
I really like the reasons and solutions you've posted here. After reading through the posts it seems to me the consideration for using YouTube was for high school students. I teach in Middle School and wanted to know if you, and others, think opening up YouTube for MS would be appropriate as well. I teach technology at this level and right now the site is blocked. The students have found the website that bypasses our filter so they can view YouTube videos. Maybe it would stop or slow down if they were allowed to access it and taught how to use it appropriately.
Hi Kimberly,

I definitely think opening up access to YouTube for Middle School students is reasonable. The school that I taught at was Grades 7 - 12 and, as you mentioned, it wasn't just the high school kids who were finding ways around accessing blocked sites.

I helped a colleague with a project for their Grade 8s which required them to narrate a video about the Aztecs and we utilized YouTube for some of the video clips. Again, I am a firm believer in teaching appropriate use of technology, rather than banning it altogether.

My only word of caution is that you need to be pro-active in discussing your plans with your tech people, your admin and parents. If you can make a case for how it will improve learning (either specific to your curriculum or simply as the technology generation of students), you will probably have little resistance to the idea.

Good luck!
Thank you for your thoughts. Being proactive is the easy part for me. However, the age of middle schoolers makes the subject a little questionable. I do agree with you however, that teaching app. use instead of banning it is the way to go.
Yes, our discussion was mainly centered on high school students. Opening up YouTube would certainly be appropriate for your teachers! and for your students with monitoring and teaching centered around appropriate use.

There is a nice YouTube Safety Center that provides some answers for educators:


Students can watch these videos at any age. However they must be 13 to have a YouTube account.
"In order to create a YouTube account, we require users to confirm that they are at least 13 yrs old. Users who enter any age younger than 13 will be prohibited from creating YouTube accounts. In addition, if a user's video gets flagged and, upon review, we determine that the user has inaccurately stated their age during the account creation process, we will suspend their account."
So, you could probably do a school project with 8th graders and upload videos there.
Judy hi there. You might want to go to You Tube and search Michael Wesch's videos. He got the Professor of the year award from the Carnegie Foundation for his work with kids and You Tube. Authenticity Projects are my favorites. I think you can also find some of his work on the site his students put together, www.mediatedcultures.net . Personally I think this is great stuff.
thank You!
I teach high school social studies and I use YouTube in my classroom just about every day as do all of the teachers in my department. I like it to show clips from movies that relate to class....20 seconds from Raiders of the Lost Ark, or The Last Samurai to visually help explain a concept is all I need--yet to find these films on DVD, cue them up to right point and show to 4 classes takes much more time than clicking on a YouTube link. I also embed YouTube videos of news programs to my class blog---I want the kids to watch the 2 minute clip about the ecomonic crisis in Zimbabwe for example, then comment on it. Even though it's a homework assignment I want students to be able to work from the library in school during a study or after school in the homework hotspot lab.

You can also find so many random and helpful things on YouTube that I would never be able to locate on my own. Last week my students were analyzing a political cartoon from 1899 that had different animals representing countries. They had not heard of this before----so I showed them Ronald Reagan's 1984 presidential re-election campaign ad with the bear in the woods. The ad never mentions Russia by name, but that is exactly what the ad was about! By relating the concept of something in a hundred + year old cartoon to something more contemporary really had them hooked and they were less hostile to what they originally reacted to as " a dumb picture that made no sense."

Of course any time we take kids into the lab they can try to sneak away from their legitimate work and "play" on YouTube. Teachers need to enforce their expectations and it is true that having this access makes time in the lab more of a challenge to monitor, especially when some students finish their work well before others. However, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
thanks for taking the time to reply!!

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