Saturday, December 8, 2012

Being Smarter w/ YouTube: Cleaning Up the View

This post is the first in a series about being smarter with YouTube.  YouTube can be a powerful teaching & learning tool, but with great power comes great responsibility . . .

We (like many districts) have a lot of folks leveraging YouTube for class content.  While YouTube is currently blocked for students in our district, teachers often link to videos on sites or class web pages or blogs for viewing outside of class.  Or, they will project the video for class viewing.  That can pose a bit of problem when YouTube's side content, or clutter, is visible.

Getting Rid of YouTube Clutter (class viewing or linking)
One of the downsides to YouTube is the extra stuff you get on the YouTube page.  Many tools exist for "safe" viewing of YouTube content, but here are a few I've tried & liked:  Find a YouTube video you like, paste the URL into SafeShare.TV's website, and it will generate a link to a page with only the video on it (no ads, other suggested clips, etc.).  One nice feature is that you can "customize" the start & end times, letting you trim out extra stuff at the beginning or end.  You can then use that link on a class website or blog to make sure that kids only go to a page with the video on it.  They also have a app for iOS (requires the YouTube link).

ViewPure:  Like SafeShare, ViewPure gives you a clean window for YouTube videos when you paste in a link.  A nice feature about ViewPure is the ability to add a button ("Purify") to your browser's bookmark toolbar to have a clean view on fly.  If you find something on YouTube but don't want to have to go to a website to paste in the URL, just use the button in your toolbar and it will get rid of all side content, showing only the video.

A Cleaner Internet:  Unlike the tools that ask for a link, A Cleaner Internet offers iOS apps and/or browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.  If you're using a computer to project video, install the extension into your browser and you can clean up YouTube video content on the fly.  Their free iOS app allows you to search, access your playlists, access your favorites, and view recent news & movie trailers. I couldn't figure out how to make it viewable in full screen, but hopefully that will be added in future updates.  (You can always use the YouTube app and just go full screen, but typically you still get side content that appears when the clip concludes.)

For those who have class websites, blogs, or online courses, embedding video is another option for keeping the clutter to a minimum.  If you will be embedding video into a webpage, 
be sure to uncheck the box below the embed code that says "show suggested videos when the video finishes" if you have the option -- sometimes those suggestions aren't class appropriate.

Have another tool that you've found for cleaning up YouTube clutter?  Feel free to comment & share!