saudixpat’s Weblog

September 28, 2008

Video Sharing on the Web and in Web 2.0

Filed under: Uncategorized — Expat in Saudi @ 7:12 pm

Yes, I am still alive and this week checking out video sharing on the web and with Web 2.0. My God, just when you thought you knew all the sites that are out there, you start testing the waters and find more! First off, I went to Google and googled video sharing. I received about 19,300,000 hits. Right away I found Top Ten lists, Top 50 lists, Wiki entries, and more. I have two questions I am trying to answer: 1. What site is best for user created video content; and 2. What is the thinking on using Web 2.0 video sharing in the classroom? This could be extended to the library, itself at times an extension of the classroom; however, as a classroom teacher first, rather than a librarian, am more interested in user generated video within the classroom. So there 🙂 After my ramblings below, I will comment on the “answers” I found.

Wikipedia was my number one hit on my Google search for video sharing ( http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=video+sharing+sites&meta= )
Ahhh, Wikipedia. That seemed a good jumping off point, so I clicked the link and away I went. Do you know that you can upload and edit video on the web, rather than just sharing it? Or that you can use a platform, such as Plone, with a free open-source video sharing environment (Plumi). You can also do the same using Moodle or Blackboard. Yes, Wikipedia was a good source of information on video sharing online.

Then I ran into a small problem. Wikipedia listed 50 user-generated video sharing sites ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_sharing_websites ). However, my second hit on Google was DV Guru’s comparison of ten video sharing websites looking at ease of use, speed, and other factors ( http://www.dvguru.com/2006/04/07/ten-video-sharing-services-compared/ ). Funny, SIX of the ten services compared were not listed on Wikipedia, which was last edited on September 28, 208 at 10:30. Why do I cite this fact? It just goes to show that the Web 2.0 phenomenon and video sharing in particular is an ORGANIC event. It is constantly changing and what was true today is not necessarily true tomorrow. I also note that the only -Tube that Wikipedia and DV Guru listed was YouTube. All other -Tube copycats were omitted, including TeacherTube.

Then I stumbled onwards into MetaTube, which is a user-generated video aggregator, searching “100 video sharing sites at once!” as they breathlessly declaim on their front page ( http://www.metatube.net/ ). Fascinating! Just out of curiosity I punched in Michael Wesch, number three on Joanne’s Trailfire of the week. I was given “about 76” hits for YouTube videos. He was down to 1 hit on Yahoo! Videos and only 5 on Metacafe and MySpace. Michael really is a YouTube phenom.
To compare, I input Numa Numa. Wow! What a difference. About 72,300 hits on YouTube (the original video of the boy in his room has been viewed over 19 MILLION times, according to the YouTube stats). 1,000 hits on MySpace and 105 hits on Yahoo! Videos. I went to Metacafe to check there next. 232. From this, I infer that Numa Numa has achieved a level of cultural awareness far above the videos of Michael Wesch. Interesting questions to consider are, “What does this say about our culture and values at this moment in time? What implications does this have for wanting to implement user-generated video into a course?” At this point, I don’t have an answer.

I do have some responses to video sharing and people’s thoughts on it, though. In chapter 8 of “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,” Will Richardson makes the statement that schools have blocked YouTube and that the idea that “…anyone can publish anything can be unsettling” (p. 120). However, there is also something he hasn’t considered. According to Wikipedia’s ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube ) article on YouTube, YouTube alone in 2007 used up as much bandwidth as ALL of the internet usage did in 2000 – just SEVEN years earlier. Why is this important? Well, everybody should know the saying, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, or as my friend said, “It might be included, but it’s never free.” SOMEONE or some organization pays for the bandwidth used in watching YouTube. Too often, it’s the school or school district footing the bill. In our case, we block YouTube for students because we pay a major amount of money every month for our internet pipe, which is meant to be used for SCHOOL purposes. Most times, sadly, students are more likely to be viewing “Numa Numa” than “Michael Wescher’. So, to stop the cash drain, YouTube was blocked. I suspect this is a consideration with many districts or schools. Not to discount the “other” reason (man I am loving quotes this blog entry!), which is that YouTube offers a LOT of not-so-savoury stuff. Don’t fool yourself, though. Cost IS an issue, especially given that high school students in particular (and if allowed by no blocking) will devour YouTube content (even when they are supposed to be working on other things in the computer lab).

Richardson (p. 110) and others, such as Wescher, also makes the connection between YouTube and other Web 2.0 apps that go along with it and the blurring of privacy and communications that have been standard for generations. When I look at my friends’ and relatives Facebook pages and tagged photos, for instance, it really is different. Not so much for people of my generation, but markedly so for people of my nieces’’ and nephews’ generation. I see photos of parties, hangovers, rudeness, obscene gestures – things that would have never made it into photo albums in the old days – now posted on the Web. Not only posted, but tagged, analyzed, talked about. Younger people growing up with video sharing are using it in vastly different ways than older people are. Privacy no longer ends at the door of the house or bedroom; rather privacy ends at the power switch or internet connection, of the computer. That’s just a couple of my responses. I have more (save your groans please), but will share them in the answers to my two guiding questions posed at the beginning of my blog entry.

My first question was “What site is best for user-created content?” I think I have answered that in my ramblings above. YouTube is head and shoulders the best there is. Although I didn’t research this – scratch that, I am going to research it now…stay tuned. O.K. Here is what I did. I opened up YouTube and TeacherTube. I looked at “Today’s Featured Videos” on TeacherTube. The first one ( Lesson Plan Presentation ), was only on TeacherTube, posted one day ago. The second one was also only on TeacherTube. The third and fourth ones, however, were both on TeacherTube and YouTube. I suspect that if something is really good, it gets ported over to YouTube from TeacherTube or vice versa.

I have to go with YouTube for the sheer depth and breadth of content. Although some is not great, there are so many topics available and so much content added daily that there are always nuggets among the dross. For instance, using Hamlet analysis provided eight hits with two looking likely for an analysis of Hamlet. “Impact of Aids in Africa” brought 171 hits and “Origins of the Slave Trade” 233. On TeacherTube, I clicked the Videos tab, entered in the same search terms, and got a combined result of 0, 0, and 0. Thinking that maybe those weren’t really teachable subjects, I searched for “ancient Egypt” and got 18 hits. I then went to YouTube and got 4,280. Now I know Ben Stiller’s sketch on cops in ancient Egypt isn’t academic, but if even one-quarter of those hits ARE academic, that is 1,070 videos on ancient Egypt. I rest my case. YouTube K.O.’d TeacherTube in the first round and wins hands-down. Despite all the warts, it is my sharing site of choice.

This brings up my second question: What is the thinking on using Web 2.0 video sharing in the classroom? The Web and video-sharing in and of themselves are neutral. They are there. They hold no values. The content does, however. “The Economist” magazine dated July 24, 2008, discussed this very question in “The Brave New World of E-Hatred” ( http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11792535 ) where they look at how user created content can “overwrite” reality or present a skewed view of past events or positions, calling on baser instincts. For instance, they mention a site called Podblanc, “…a sort of alternative YouTube for “white interests, white culture and white politics” offers plenty of material to keep a racist amused”. There are other sites, among them sites about famous people such as Martin Luther King, which seemingly offer valid information about the subject, but which are slanted and biased. Videos must surely also exist presenting these views. How can we allow students free rein to incorporate user-generated content into their own presentations, assignments, or bibliographies?

Sabah Karimi, in “The Value of E-Learning with YouTube” ( http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/65889/the_value_of_elearning_with_youtube.html?page=2&cat=4 ) talks about this. She mentions “Responsibility and ethics with internet use are certainly factors that play a strong role in making the best of today’s technology”, and it is these things that students need to be taught and made aware of before, during, and after any project which incorporates user generated content. Methods for evaluating for bias should be taught, just as they are in many other courses, to allow students to navigate the YouTube universe and find the clips that will enable them to put together their own quality presentation. Apart from that, the rest of Karimi’s article is pretty pedestrian, predicting that using YouTube will enhance motivation and participation. **YAWN**

Karimi’s view of the positive impact of YouTube and user-generated video is backed up by others. Jeffrey Gentry, writing in “Online Classroom” in its August 2008 issue makes the case that YouTube is the answer to many problems. If presentations are a problem, students can record them, upload them to a private invitation only channel or page on YouTube, and they can then be viewed or critiqued by the class. He makes the point that the technology to do this is now widely available and very cheap. It allows for asynchronous evaluation as well, something that is important.
Kathy Frederick, in “Launching Library 2.0” (School Library Media Activities Monthly, Volume XXIV, Number 10, June 2008), She urges librarians (teachers) to “Challenge students to create videos around their learning. Follow their lead. Focus their project to meet media literacy standards. Discuss copyright guidelines with them—a great way to talk about intellectual property is to have their own available! Bring your students’ world into the school and use these tools to create learning experiences.”

But how can this be done? I argue, “In many different ways”. In science, for instance, students can create a video where they act out the parts of the cell and their functions. As a group, they then analyze and describe what the parts are, what they do, and what happens if any given part stops working. Imagine the insights that might be gained by doing a project like this – which requires active participation and learning by all members of the group. In English, students can create a position video on a book, analyzing one of the characters. Their partner needs to respond to the video analysis, critiquing it and offering alternate views and ideas. Alternately, students could film a talk show interview covering the same material with a give and take question, answer comment format. These would then be posted to YouTube on a private page or channel and students in class would be required to view them and leave comments, adding to the depth of analysis.

In short, there are all kinds of ways to bring Web 2.0 video sharing into the classroom and make it work. While there are naysayers and doom and gloom prognosticators on this topic, there are also visionaries and ordinary people who are already doing this. I am fortunate to belong to one such group, The Flat Classroom Project, in which students will be creating and sharing videos. Yes, there is a place for this technology in education. My challenge to you is how are YOU going to harness it and make it a meaningful reality in your classroom?

PS If you know of anybody who is using YouTube, particularly having their students create projects posted to YouTube, could you please comment and give me the URL or any other information? I am considering doing a min-NESA presentation which, if accepted, would have me presenting on Web 2.0 at the Cairo NESA conference in April 2009. Thank you in advance for any info you have!

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7 Comments »

  1. Hi Bruce,
    Glad to see you’re still with us! I agree with you that the cost of bandwidth is one of major reasons (along with questionable material) why YouTube is blocked in our schools. I was told this by one of our IT experts.

    I am reading you correctly that you think YouTube is better just because you get more “hits?” Since a teacher’s time is limited, I don’t want to have to wade through all the questionable material to get to the “good” stuff. The way videos get to the top of the pile is determined by the number of “hits” and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best. Since YouTube is blocked in most schools and teachers have to jump through hoops to use YouTube videos in the classroom, is it really the best source of videos for educators?

    Although I don’t know of any teachers using YouTube in the class, I do have a teacher in my school who has his students create videos using Movie Maker and Audacity and then they upload these to their individual blogger blogs. No need for YouTube at all in this case.

    Jo-Anne

    Comment by Jo-Anne — September 29, 2008 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

  2. Good comments Jo-anne. However, when I conducted my searches, the good stuff was right there at the beginning, often the same stuff as was on teachertube, but MORE (see my ancient Egypt example). Now, If I were looking for girls hairstyles I might come across more questionable material, but I found that academic searches were pretty good.

    The nice thing about YouTube as well is that it acts as an aggregator. Far and away most videos posted to the Web at this point are posted on YouTube. And while I understand where you are coming from on the blocked part, I am fortunate enough that I can unblock it, or arrange to have it unblocked when there are glitches, as I run my own computer lab. Lastly, if you use Tubesock or something like it, you can download video directly from YouTube and then reformat it using VideoHub or zamzar.com and have working video.

    I hear your concerns, but what do you do when you go to TeacherTube and there is a dearth of material for what you are looking for?

    So it isn’t just the most hits, it is also the number of videos that appear for those hits that are on topic which made me give YouTube my seal of approval.

    I do agree with you on the uploading of individual videos to blogs. With all the sensitivity about identity protection for students and making sure we act in a prudent manner (even though they might already be the stars of many YouTube clips) makes that a much better avenue.

    PS I bet if a teacher really really wanted/needed to use YouTube for a class that the lab in question could be opened to allow those searches through during the class time. It would be interesting to check with IT people in schools and districts to see what answer they get. Most teachers I suspect tell their students to do to YouTube, find it blocked, then never see if they can make alternate arrangements to have it unblocked during lab time (too much of a hassle?).

    Keep the great comments coming!

    Comment by Saudixpat — September 30, 2008 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  3. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for the interesting comments about YouTube…and other video sharing sites. I liked how you framed your post using the two questions to start. I think you make a good case for using YouTube in the classroom with students. Does your school use filters? That seems to be one of the biggest problems facing teachers who want to use YouTube in their schools. How do international schools deal with these kinds of access issues?

    Joanne

    Comment by Joanne de Groot — October 1, 2008 @ 3:28 am | Reply

  4. Hi Bruce,

    You raise some interesting technical points about bandwidth. I am fortunate to have access to YouTube etc at school. There are a number of teachers who have incorporated YouTube videos into their instruction, including myself. One of the most memorable uses in my school happened last year in an elementary classroom. One of the teachers on staff was running in the Boston Marathon for the first time. She found an excellent video on YouTube to show her class, showing footage of a previous race, what it looks like when a runner ‘hits the wall’ and the thousands of runners who are lined up at the beginning of the race. The reaction from the students was amazing. They could not have truly understood the depth of athletic committment it took to run the race without the use of the video. I was also amazed! I’m pro video – pro YouTube!!

    carol t

    Comment by carol t — October 1, 2008 @ 3:53 am | Reply

  5. Hi Joanne. My school does filter net usage, otherwise our cost would shoot sky high (I pay over 100 US dollars a month for a 512k satellite connection which runs much slower than a 2mb connection in Canada I would pay 30 Cdn a month for), However, as a computer lab teacher, I can over-ride the block when necessary. I also use Tubesock to capture relevent video from YouTube to my computer for sharing, or if it is a one-off, I just show them the YouTube video. For example, my Multimedia students are working on a silent movie. I showed them Charlie Chaplin’s short, “The Champ” where he is fighting in the ring. IT is hilarious. Students from last year still talk about it!

    As I responded to Jo-anne, other teachers simply ask that YouTube be unblocked during the lab time they have blocked. Any school district should have a system like this in place. Labs are a discrete chunk of IP addreses, usually sequential, so it is really easy to put an exception in the filter for an hour and then have it blocked again automatically.

    In the end after all my research, I just found YouTube had so much more relevent material than other sites, making it the best to use. Yes, there is lots of dross, but there are also some real gems 🙂

    Comment by sibertiger — October 1, 2008 @ 7:10 am | Reply

  6. Hi Carole. I love your story – isn’t the immediacy of the moment great? You just don’t get that spontanaiety if you have to order the video or DVD which comes in two days after your initial conversation. I like the power of the internet to immediately track down or clarify issues, get examples, or discover new facts, new information, boldly going where some teachers might have gone before! (sorry, my Trekkie-ness coming out) :-p

    I think that YouTube can be a relevent source and that if it maintains its ascendancy, you will see more and more schools turning to it. Why buy a video when YouTube might conceivably have a Sunburst Communications Channel which your distrcit has paid access to instead of buying DVDs or CDs? I believe the nature of how certain things are done is going to change radically in education, as it already has been.

    Comment by sibertiger — October 1, 2008 @ 7:14 am | Reply

  7. Hi Bruce,
    I do have the power to block and unblock YouTube so that problem is solved. I agree with you that if you can’t find something on TeacherTube, why not use YouTube. I’m glad to hear that the “cream does rise to the top” at least in most instances.

    Jo-Anne

    Comment by Jo-Anne — October 3, 2008 @ 3:58 am | Reply


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