Friday, November 27, 2009

Survey - How to Respond to YouTube Being Blocked?

Yesterday, Miguel Guhlin had an interesting post addressing a question that has popped-up in the comments here in the past. Miguel's post WatchKnow YouTube Search - Blocked! explores two possible responses to an educator's request to unblock WatchKnow for classroom use. WatchKnow can best be described as YouTube meets Wikipedia. WatchKnow serves educational videos found on YouTube and other video providers such as National Geographic. (You can read more about WatchKnow here). Because WatchKnow uses YouTube videos, school districts that block YouTube also block WatchKnow.

Recognizing that there are dozens of alternatives to YouTube how should classroom teachers respond to not being able to access YouTube? Here are the options and their associated problems that I see:
1. Comply with the district policy and use an alternate video provider. The problem with this is that the catalog of videos on even the largest of alternate providers, is limited compared to YouTube. The video you want may not be available on another video provider.

2. Petition your district's administration to unblock YouTube. Provide them with as much research on the topic as you possibly can. Administrators may not be aware of the latest research on the topic, don't be afraid to provide it to them. My experience has been that most administrators want to make decisions that are grounded in data and research. If you're not aware of the latest research, ask your Twitter network as I did here. The problem is if you're shot down, you're back to number 1 above.

3. Use a third party client to download a YouTube video at home then play it in your classroom. There are a number of services that allow you to do this and YouTube does allow it in certain, limited cases. The problem here is that it is a violation of YouTube's terms of service to download videos for which they haven't provided that option. This presents a moral quandry, do you download the video so that you can provide what you feel is the best educational opportunity possible or do you comply with the law (which may or may not be enforced)?

I've created a short annonymous survey about this topic (you can also leave a comment). I'm curious about two things. How many districts block YouTube? How do you respond to the blocking of YouTube?
Update: You can view the responses to the survey here.