YouTube Blocked? Cool Tool #1

If you haven’t been to YouTube, you should go check it out. It is an amazing site. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can now upload videos. As a result, a lot of questionable material has made its way on to the site. Not really anything TOO bad, but it has created enough controversy that many districts (including mine) block it through a filtering/censoring system. I have mixed feelings about blocking the Internet in K-12 schools, but I’ve seen some outlandish and fringe videos on YouTube.

By blocking YouTube we are eliminating another possible educational tool from our toolbelt. The ability for students to easily share school projects is lost (at school). Additionally, there are videos on YouTube that potentially could be used in an educational setting. It could be video clips from a television program, an expert discussing a specific topic, or maybe just some nice home movie footage of a place you are teaching about. What then?

Well, you have options. You should not bypass your school’s filter, nor will you probably successfully persuade your district to stop blocking the site (though you might want to try!). So what is a teacher to do?

One easy solution is to download the video at home and then bring it to school to show your students. There are a number of tools and web sites that can help you with this process.

Downloading the video

KeepVid and Oyoom are sites that will allow you to download the FLV (Flash video) file to your computer.

  1. Find the video you wish to download on YouTube.
  2. Select and copy the URL of the video you wish to download.
  3. Go to either KeepVid or Oyoom and paste the URL into the specified text box.
  4. Hit submit.

A simple process to acquire the video.

Playing the video

To play the video you have a couple options.

  1. You can download a player that supports FLV files (like this one). I’m sure there are several others out there. This one is free and it works on Mac OSX and Windows.
  2. Convert the FLV file to a Quicktime or WMV player for easier use. There are applications for both platforms that will do this for you, but in the spirit of Web 2.0 and free, I am suggesting two online conversion sites. Zamzar and Media-Covert allow you to upload the FLV file and select one of several output formats (including MPG and WMV). Larger videos will take some time because of the upload/download time involved. Now you can embed it into a PowerPoint (or Impress) presentation or just show it through the player. Reposting the video will probably conflict with the YouTube copyright agreement.

For more on this and for info on automatically taking a YouTube video and adding it to iTunes, see TechCrunch. For an interesting teacher perspective on YouTube in the classroom, read this post over at Education Wonks.
(Inspired by Dean Shareski’s post)

[tags]web2.0, youtube[/tags]

20 thoughts on “YouTube Blocked? Cool Tool #1”

  1. What a good idea. Please feel free to check out my WP site.

    Just started 2 days ago, already getting called out by the principal at a staff meeting (which I take that the administration’s taking notice!). I’d love to be added to your blogroll.


  2. I collaborated on a wiki about Effective Math Videos, and I had to deal with YouTube and Google Video being blocked at school. Thank you for your suggestions for downloading video. I was not familiar with these tools, and now I have one more thing to learn how to do during Christmas holidays! I linked to your blog on our wiki at Math Videos. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I’ve already bookmarked both those sites, and copied your post. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    I’m a music teacher, and oftentimes, it pays to show amateur material, rather than playing professional recordings. I believe music should be accessible to all, not just to a few. Kids want to see those like themselves making music of different kinds.

    One question: I’ve been trying to find some programs that will help me download audioclips, and audio from sites, for the very same reason. (I can’t play music from a particular site, and I can’t download the files, either without some help.

    This is the site:

    There is some excellent teaching material, but my district feels that too much streaming audio will cause undue net congestion. (These shows are only about 10 minutes long, but I do understand their viewpoint; bandwidth is costly, and should be conserved.)
    Any assistance you can offer me is greatly appreciated.


  4. Thanks for providing this solution! As a former school technology specialist, though, I just wanted to point out that YouTube and Google Video aren’t blocked simply because of a desire to censor/protect kids from (depending on your point of view) some of the content on there. Although we did have many students and a few teachers watching and sharing content that was definitely not safe for school, the biggest reason our district has blocked these sites is because streaming video is such a bandwidth hog. Our district has a subscription to Discovery’s Unitedstreaming, but during the school day we can only search the site without streaming the videos in order to preserve bandwidth. (When you find a video you like, you click on a “Download Later” button and the video will be downloaded to a local server overnight so you can watch it the next day. You can also stream and download videos directly if you do it after school hours.)

    Again, thanks for pointing us toward these tools! They elegantly solve the bandwidth and content problems all at once.


  5. Ditto. Utube was blocked at our school, after I’d put several videos on my school website, which were suddenly rendered useless.

    I talked to our IT guy and the issue was bandwith. He cheerfully unblocked me, so I could use the video in my teaching. The kids stayed blocked, so the school’s network didn’t slow to nothing.

    He said the real problem was people using the school network to listen to music through the day, etc. They blocked most streaming sites. It had nothing to do with censorship, and they were eager to work with me to find a solution.

    But the solution suggested in Dan’s post is the best one yet. Download the videos so I don’t need to worry about bad connections when I want to use them in class.


  6. You’re suggesting a viable workaround. However, I hope you have at least broached the subject with your district tech and administrator(s). You may be setting yourself up for violations of your district’s Acceptable Use Policy by bringing material in. I agree that there is a love/hate relationship with filtering. I think we all need to remember that using the Internet (and computers) at school is very different than how we use it at home. We’re in a fishbowl, for one thing, and something that might seem innocent or funny in one person’s house might be the complete opposite next door; both of those kids are in your classroom.
    What would I like to see? A subsection of YouTube that is marked educational, and all contributors self-police it for videos that are not appropriate for classroom use.


  7. As a parent of a video blogger on YouTube, I’ve learned that YouTube is the new literacy of this generation and to understand them we also need to be more video literate. I also think that educators need to collaborate with the videobloggers to create interesting and engaging educational tools. At USF Libraries we did just that. My son helped us create an anti-plagiarism rap video (spoofing the SNL “Lazy Sunday” rap) that highlighted library services. It’s called the “Chronicles of Libraria” and it is a nice blend of adult objectives and student humor and perspectives. This is where it should go if we want to connect to the students. If we don’t, then block the site and pretend it doesn’t exist. Thanks for the tips about downloading YouTube stuff. I have found the Steven Colbert clip on “Wikiality” a wonderful teaching tool to use when talking about information literacy during library instruction sessions.


  8. Well, blocking distractions is great but what about using it as a teaching tool? Sites should be blocked but it’s up to us to teach and empower poeple about technology not block it. It’s all about the abuse of sites. The internet is a powerful tool we should learn not to abuse it so we really can learn.


  9. Here are a couple of ideas.
    Try out
    This site is probably not blockied by your filter and is self-policed minimizing inappropriate material. If you find material that should be on ask the video creator to upload it to teachertube.

    Another option is to talk to your network administrator. Most filters have the ability to allow access to blocked sites after a certain hour…like when students are no longer in school. This way appropriate videos could be downloaded at school “after hours”.


  10. If you really want to watch youtube videos on a filtering system, there is an easy way to bypass it. If you know the name of the video you want (for ex.: “Evolution of Dance”), go to google and type in “evolution of dance youtube” in the search bar. when you find the youtube link, copy everything in the URL beginning AFTER the “/watch” part. then, in the address bar, type “”, then paste the copied fraction of the URL. It should either come up as the video page with all the comments etc., or it will come up enlarged taking up the entire page. Just thought I’d help out, if you needed it!


  11. Please be careful. By downloading the files, you are actually violating the Youtube policy. It (along with most others, like google video) are streaming sites. As soon as you remove the content, you are violating their policy. Here is the language directly from their site:

    A. You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Website, including but not limited to User Submissions (defined below), without YouTube’s prior written authorization.

    C. You agree not to access User Submissions (defined below) or YouTube Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.



  12. I feel that having youtube blocked is a big mistake because as you said, I like to upload my videos onto youtube and show then to my class. It really is sad to find out that the next day that Youtube is blocked. It was truly sad and I hope they unblock it from my computer.


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