Tools to Make Using YouTube Easier

YouTube grows everyday, and with it grows the urge to bring the videos into the classroom. After all, high quality academic content has started appearing regularly on the video hosting site, as well as fun vids that we as teachers just want to share with our students. YouTube itself has even created a whole channel devoted to teachers using YouTube called YouTube Teachers. The channel features videos of academic merit, as well as posting videos about how teachers and students can create content for YouTube and use it in instruction. However, YouTube isn’t perfect. What if you want to show a video without the ads and comments? Or just a small portion of a long video? Or several videos one after another?

On his blog Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne posted a list of Twelve Useful YouTube Accessories for Teachers and Students, all free on the web, that are designed to make it easier to use YouTube and which can be especially useful to teachers. He divides the tools into three categories: tools for removing related content from the videos, tools for cutting and remixing videos, and tools within YouTube itself. Some of the tools were more useful than others. I explored all of the tools on the list, and here is some more information about some of my favorites.

SafeShare

Ever wanted to share a YouTube video, but you didn’t want all the fluff of the comments section, advertisements, and suggested videos? Well, there are several tools that can strip those away and leave you with a clean vid, but many require you to download the app into your browser toolbar or leave you with a stark, unpleasant viewing window. SafeShare is a little bit different. It is a web application, and ridiculously easy to use. All you have to do is paste in the URL of the YouTube video you want into the blank, hit “Generate Safe Link,” and you’re done. Easy peezy. However, you can choose “Customize Video,” selecting one of six background themes, change the title, or even adjust the portion of the video you want to play.

This is a great tool for when the extra parts of YouTube could interfere with the instruction you have planned for the video. For example, the comments section of a controversial political speech could limit an in-class discussion on the message of the speech. Below is an example of how SafeShare can be used to bring current events into the classroom with less bias: compare the YouTube Layout with the cleaner layout of SafeShare. To see each video in action, click on the screenshot to follow the link.

Screenshot of Mitt Romney on YouTube

Mitt Romney on YouTube

Screenshot of Mitt Romney on Safe Share

Mitt Romney on Safe Share

TubeChop, EmbedPlus, and Splicd

Each of these tools allows you to cut down a YouTube video to a specific portion you want to show. This is great if you want to show a piece of a really long video, like an inaugural address, movie scene, or other such scene. Feel free to experiment with each tool, but there are some things to know about the limits of these tools. TubeChop is the easiest to manipulate, but the hardest to embed. In fact, none of them will embed in WordPress.com, which means I can’t post my edited videos on this blog. EmbedPlus will work for the paid version, WordPress.org, but the other two don’t work at all. However, they will all embed in PB Works. For a chance to see these three tools side by side, as well as an explanation of how to embed in PB Works, I created a wiki page using all three tools to clip the same portion of a video on Confucius. For other applications, it is important to know that Splicd is the only tool that would embed into a PowerPoint Presentation.

Watch2gether.com

The commenting feature on YouTube is part of what makes the experience so exhilarating. However, the standard comments section is not a viable option for a discussion among your students, since it is open to the public and anyone can chip in. The website watch2gether.com overcomes this by turning any YouTube video into your own personal live chat room. This would be a great tool for developing students writing and discourse skills. It can also be an opportunity for the shyer members of the class to engage in the discussion, since it is impossible to be interrupted in a chat room (though your comment can fall outside the flow of the conversation). Watch2gether.com works by one person going to the website, picking a nickname, and selecting the video for discussion. In the classroom setting, that person would most likely be the teacher. Then, they invite the other members to the discussion by sending them a link to this video and this conversation. When everyone is in the chat room, everyone presses play and starts commenting in the chat window. Below is a screenshot of a discussion a couple friends and I carried on while watching a video about the Fibonacci sequence called “Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]”.

Screenshot of Fibonacci Chat Session on Watch2gether

Fibonacci Chat Session on Watch2gether

DragOnTape

If you have ever been frustrated by YouTube Playlists, you need to try DragOnTape. This online tool allows you to build a mixed tape of YouTube videos so that they follow one another with no pauses, even allowing for some fading from one to the next, like a DJ blends the ends and beginnings of songs. To be honest, I am in love with this tool. The interface is incredibly simple and intuitive. You can search for video clips without leaving the site, drag them right to where you want them in your playlist, and even trim the length of individual video clips. DragOnTape even gives you a warning system on videos that the search brings up, telling you if a specific video is un-embeddable or not available on mobile or in a specific location. That way, you can make sure that your mix will be viewable to all users. DragOnTape, like the chopping tools, does not embed into WordPress.com; however, it will embed into PB Works and PowerPoint.

DragOnTape is a social site. You have to sign up, but it is free, and then all your work and playlists can be saved. You can also choose to share your videos with the general public on DragOnTape or keep it private to only those who have the link. The privacy settings mean that you could use this tool for students to create their own profiles and playlists, or to create a playlist of student work that was posted to YouTube. Outside of showcasing student work, DragOnTape would be a great tool for sharing a set of videos to introduce a video, or lining up several videos for direct comparison. Below is a great video that introduces DragOnTape and how to use it.

I decided to use DragOnTape to create a playlist for a Shakespeare unit, comparing different actors’ interpretations of the “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy from Hamlet. I love how it turned out, and I wish I had an 11th grade English class I could throw this at. Until then, I will just pass it amongst my fellow English Major nerds. As I mentioned earlier, it cannot be embedded in WordPress.com, but it can be embedded in PB Works. Therefore, I posted my To Each His Own Hamlet playlist on my wiki, and you can view it there.

I hope this post has inspired you with ideas for lesson plans, or at the very least has made you want to play around with the tools for your own entertainment. I know I have had a ton of fun creating my examples, in addition to some other works just for me. Which tool caught your fancy the most? How do you think you would use it? Is there another tool you have heard of or used and want to share? Speak up in the comments!

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8 Responses to Tools to Make Using YouTube Easier

  1. Holly G. says:

    I think these tools seem very helpful in the classroom, especially for me as a secondary History educator. For history lessons, sometimes students learn better if they have a more engaging and interesting introduction instead of just the teacher talking. I think these tools, specifically DragOnTape, could be very helpful for this. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube on every subject, but it’s hard finding one that has everything you want. Therefore, I could put together my own video with bits and pieces of videos on YouTube to give a good overview of what I want my students to know. It would avoid providing any unnecessary information and any extra time spent going from one Internet tab or window to the next. I think I will definitely use these tools to make a more engaging classroom in the future – thanks for sharing!

  2. Emmie C. says:

    Kaitlin, I thought your post about YouTube was very insightful and interesting! YouTube has become such a popular application during our generation, and I think it is extremely smart to incorporate the application into teaching and learning today. I also agree with Holly when she says watching videos on YouTube can be a great way for students to be more engaged and interested in the classroom discussion instead of just listening to the lecture from the teacher. I thought the several tools you discussed that allow you to cut down YouTube videos to only show what you want could be extremely beneficial to both students and teachers. I look forward to learning more about tools to make using YouTube easier as I become a future teacher!

  3. Allie W. says:

    I really liked this post! It gave me a lot of information on a topic I thought I knew almost everything about. Being able to clip videos that you find on youtube may be one of the most useful tools I’ve found regarding youtube. Often only part of a video on the site is appropriate or is about the topic I’m presenting. It can often be annoying to let the video load to the part you want and then to search for where you want to start and worry about when you need to hit end. Another great tool is the ability to create your own commenting area for your class. Youtube can be seen and commented on by so many people that if you wanted to create a discussion about a video between your students it would be nearly impossible to find what certain students are saying. It also can be an unsafe place where your students could be criticized in an inappropriate way, etc. Having a safe place to comment for students is a great tool. Thanks!

  4. Sydney B. says:

    Kaitlin, these are all very helpful tools. SafeShare is a great way to help students focus. When someone shows a youtube video you can’t help but look at the other videos to the right. So, by eliminating those distractions, students can focus better on the topic at hand. I also think that Drag on Tape is a helpful tool. If you have a lot of videos to show students and don’t want to have to search for all of them or waste time switching videos, Drag on Tape is great. That way, one video flows after the other. These are tools I have never heard of or even thought existed. Great post, Kaitlin!

  5. Kate H. says:

    Kaitlin, I didn’t realize that there were so many important accessories for YouTube! In the past, I’ve seen teachers and students that are presenting mark down a specific time to start and stop a video. TubeChop, EmbedPlus and Splicd are awesome tools that will get rid of this problem! I also think SafeShare is a great tool because it allows for students to focus their attention on the video, rather than letting their eyes wander around the page at adds and inappropriate comments. Watch2gether.com is awesome for the classroom too because you can have discussions right on the same page that is only within your class/the people you invite. These tools are all excellent for teachers and I will definitely use them in the future! Thanks!

  6. Hilary S. says:

    Kaitlin, this is a very informative, extensive post! Thank you so much for sharing so many different ways that I can customize my YouTube viewing experience. I think these accessories are very important for teachers to use, especially if teachers decide to use YouTube videos to enhance their lessons. SafeGear is an especially useful tool, teachers need to be cautious of what may come up on YouTube for ads and such because they could be inappropriate. I look forward to exploring more of these tools and using them in my class. Thanks, Kaitlin!

  7. Hannah D. says:

    Kaitlin, I learned a lot while reading your post! I didn’t think there was much else to learn about Youtube than I already knew! It’s cool that I can alter the different aspects of Youtube in so many ways! I definitely think it is important to be able to use the safe share feature in a classroom! It allows the student’s to focus, and it’s especially important if inappropriate videos or comments come up around the video. It will also be helpful in presentations to not have to pause a video at the spot I want it to start, but I can just clip it! Thanks for sharing all this information! It is definitely helpful.

  8. Sarah C says:

    This is a really great post with a lot of good information. I remember in my high school there was always controversy about using YouTube in the classroom, however these filters can help both students and teachers search for relevant videos that will be educational and helpful in and out of the classroom.

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