The Perils and Possibilities of YouTube

How to make YouTube appropriate for the classroom

digital citizenship and students onlineYouTube can provide students and educators with hundreds of powerful educational videos that can deepen learning, and we cover finding those videos elsewhere. But a lot of times actually showing those videos to your students requires navigating a minefield of irrelevant results, unpleasant comments and ads featuring people who are going to catch pneumonia unless they put a shirt on.

But it can be done: let’s look at ways to make YouTube appropriate for the classroom.

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How to save, edit and share video clips with your students

Part 2: sharing videos in Google Classroom, Drive, and YouTube

ways to share videos with your students

In Part 1, we looked at tools for finding and editing videos to share with your students. But once you’ve found and marked up videos with polls or questions or just a shot of your own sweet self in there, how do you share these videos with students?

Let’s look at three platforms for sharing: Google Classroom, Google Drive and YouTube.

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To lock or not to lock

School approaches to filtering internet content

school approaches to filtering internet contentAs social media,Youtube, and gaming become more educationally relevant, how do we leverage their educational potential while keeping student data safe and teaching them digital citizenship?

Lock it down! “We need to keep everyone safe.”

Open it up! “It’s how the real world operates.”

I’ve heard strong arguments for both sides of the coin and have seen successes and challenges in both cases.

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How to use Google Hangout for screencasting

Let this powerful tool save you time

how to use Google Hangout for screencastingThere are a plethora of screencasting tools available for Mac, PC and Chromebook, but one way to create a super-quick screencast when you want students to be able to see you in the picture, is to use Google Hangout for screencasting and take advantage of Google’s smooth workflow and easy-to-use screen-sharing option. Super useful for Google schools, and did we mention it’s free?

Step-by-step, here’s how to use Google Hangout for screencasting

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4 ways to use an iPad1 in the classroom

Making the most of an original generation iPad

4 ways to use an iPad1 in the classroomYes, you read that right: you can definitely still use an iPad1 in your classroom. Sure, not every app out there will work on it, and the iPad1’s lack of a camera is still fairly insurmountable, but this original version of the revolutionary edtech tablet still has legs, especially if you’re not in a 1:1 situation.

Because remember: at the end of the day, it’s not about the device, but how you use it.

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Want to try out interactive fiction and games?

Want to try out writing interactive fiction and games with your students? Here are three tools that make it easy to get started.

In order of ease of use: YouTube

"Choose What Happens Next" is a series of videos that focus on digital citizenship choices for students. You navigate them like Choose Your Own Adventure books.

“Choose What Happens Next” is a series of videos that focus on digital citizenship choices for students. You navigate them like Choose Your Own Adventure books.

YouTube’s recently beefed up their suite of online editing tools (including a bank of royalty-free audio clips) and made them simpler to use. By embedding text-based links in video, you can tell an interactive video-based story.

YouTube Pros:

  • editing tools easy to use
  • doesn’t require a ton of writing, so caters to visual storytellers

YouTube Cons:

  • doesn’t require a ton of writing
  • YouTube may be blocked at your school (but that’s a WHOLE other blogpost)


Next up: StoryNexus

StoryNexus made a big splash when it was introduced via the way-too-addictive speculative steampunk game Fallen London. Players navigate through a virtual, text-based world in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure manner, but with choose-a-card activities that interject an element of chance into the proceedings.

Winterstrike is a post-apocalyptic game of chance, built on the StoryNexus platform.

StoryNexus Pros:

  • Easy and compelling to get really into world-building
  • Lots of students already on there with games; peers, feedback, ideas
  • Library of GoogleDocs manuals and crowd-sourced how-to’s
  • Easy to add images and audio to text
  • Lots and lots of writing to do, boosts world-building

StoryNexus Cons:

  • Students need to sign up for accounts
  • Hard to build a game in one class period
  • Lots and lots of writing to do


And then there’s Twine

(“Do it for the Twine! I ain’t gonna do–“)


Ashton Raze's Twine game,"Don't Read the Comments", combining digital citizenship with Twin Peaks references.

Ashton Raze’s Twine game,”Don’t Read the Comments”, combining digital citizenship with Twin Peaks references.

Twine‘s a challenging little piece of software that takes a step closer to computer programming logic while you build your games. It’s a stellar introduction to the concept of global vs. local variables, for instance*.

Twine games are browser-based, which means you can practice your HTML and CSS skills while you sort out what kind of tea the yeti usually drinks. Yes, I made that game**. It was not entirely easy but the things that were complicated didn’t make me tear my hair out. They were fun to figure out, and as a fan of interactive fiction, I enjoy the pace of the finished product.

 Twine Pros:

  • The ability to embed videos, images and audio make this a truly multimedia storytelling platform
  • Lets students bone up on HTML and CSS while they write

Twine Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve than the other two

Here are some lovely related links for you to disappear down the rabbithole of your choice:

Do you:

Let the games… begin!



*If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, get in touch. Let’s get you a seat at this summer’s Code Camp.

**And yes, it’s not finished, because I also have to write many fine blog posts each week, such as this one. You will cope.

“When Student Published Videos Go Viral” (podcast)

In September of 2009, Sarah, the 9 year-old daughter of our keynote speaker posted a 90-second YouTube response to President Obama’s speech to US students. This video “went viral” and currently has over 190,000 views. In May 2010, a 6th grader in our keynote presenter’s hometown attracted the attention of Ellen Degeneres with his YouTube remix of a Lady Gaga song. Greyson Chance is now a household name and national star with a record contract and his own manager. Join this session to discuss the issues raised by these two situations and lessons learned including Internet safety and digital citizenship responsibilities.

Very powerful reflections from 9-year-old Sarah Fryer and her father, educator and technologist Wes Fryer, on digital citizenship for students on video-sharing sites such as YouTube. This podcast captured their presentation, When Student Videos Go Viral, at the Mid-America Association for Computers in Education (MACE) 2011.