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10 ways to eliminate the distractions around YouTube videos

What it is: YouTube is a truly wonderful learning resource.  What isn’t so great: all of the garbage that can come along with it (i.e. advertising, comments, related videos…in short-distractions). Luckily, schools have some great options for using YouTube differently.  Some of these tools I have written about before and some are new additions…hence the new post! YouTube for Schools- This is a YouTube that has been created just for schools.  Network administrators must be involved so that they can add this option for YouTube into your filtering system.  This is a completely customizable option that lets teachers and administrators add videos to a playlist that you have predetermined you want students to watch.  Teachers can find videos by Common Core Standard, subject or grade.  Students can watch videos that teachers and administrators have approved or any YouTube Edu video (think Kahn Academy, PBS, TED, Stanford, etc.). SafeShare TV- This site lets students watch YouTube videos without ads, links, comments and related videos.  You also have the option to crop videos and share videos with a unique URL. YouTubeXL- This is a service that YouTube provides that lets you watch videos on large screens without the ads and comments. Neat tip: if you time “quiet” before the YouTube url, it takes you to a safe page where you can watch a YouTube video.  WAY cool and easy to do on the fly! Clean VideoSearch- This site lets students search through YouTube videos without the comments, ads and busy sidebar.  It has additional features like the ability to choose how many videos you want to see on each page in your search. Clea.nr- This service (a browser plugin) deletes all of the obnoxious extras that hang around videos (ads, comments, related videos). You can also search YouTube without all of the extras showing up. ViewPure- This site cleans out all the clutter and gives you just a video.  Bonus: There is a quick button that you can add to your browser so that you can go to a video, click on “Pure” in your bookmark bar and instantly have a clean video. Dragontape- This service lets you drag videos into a timeline and share them easily with students.  This is great for mashing up several videos, or cropping multiple videos into one. Movavi- This is a video conversion service. Wonderful for teachers who can’t or don’t want to access a video directly from YouTube.  Copy/paste the url you want to convert, choose a file type, done! Zamzar- This is another great video conversion service.  Works quickly and easily! SaveYouTube- This site used to be called KickYouTube.  Here you can enter the url and download it to your computer to play offline. How to integrate less distracting YouTube videos into the classroom:  This one is really a no brainer: want to use YouTube? Clean it up!  I find great content I find on YouTube (as do my students). All of the “extras” around the videos can be SO distracting as a searcher and viewer.  These options are outstanding for making videos less distracting so that your students can focus on the learning happening. I find that students head to YouTube (even before Google) when they want to learn something new.  They are generally pretty successful at finding a video that will teach them how to do what they want to do.  Very handy for self guided learning! Tips: Always try these tools out at school BEFORE using with students.  Some of them won’t work depending on your school’s filters and policies. Leave a comment and share how less distracting YouTube videos are rocking your classroom.

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Smithsonian Quests: Learning through discovery and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Character Education, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Music, PE, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 07-05-2013

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What it is:
Smithsonian Quests encourage students to explore learning through discovery and collaboration.  As students learn, they can earn digital badges for their quests.  Students can explore their own interest through a series of online activities while incorporating knowledge and skill-building in the online quests.  The quests ask students to explore a topic of interest as part of a standards-based curriculum or as a student-driven after school activity.  By signing  up for Smithsonian Quests, you will receive an invitation to join a grade-level based group in the Smithsonian Quest Community.  Students from kindergarten through adult learners can join Smithsonian Quest and collect badges.

How to integrate Smithsonian Quests into the classroom: Smithsonian Quests is a great program that connects transdisciplinary learning with digital badges.  As your class works through the site, they will start to realize how they have been learning, exploring, connecting and acting.  Students can unlock a badge by completing a set of quests that go with it.  Some Quests are independent and others are collaborative.  Quests get reviewed by a group of “specially selected experts” before badges are awarded.  Badges include: oral historian, historical biographer, cool curator, cultural storyteller, portrait reader, community historian, symbols spotter, correspondent, dirt detective, art advocate, environ-scientist, culture keeper, eco-journalist, time traveler, H2O hero, conservation campaigner, invasions investigator and tree hugger.  Quests include things like listening to audio, taking pictures, recording, etc.  As you can see, there are quests for every interest!

When students sign up for quests, they get invited into a group (class group when the teacher sets up the account), can add friends, see the badges they have collected, and view friends who are online.  Students also get an online journal where they can reflect on learning or update their status with the kind of learning they are doing.

I like that these quests can be done collaboratively (a whole class goal to earn the digital badges by learning?) and that they are  largely discovery based learning.   The quests really challenge students to dig deeper in learning and often lead to additional questions.  Quests can also be completed individually by students.  Students can explore areas that are high-interest for them. These Smithsonian Quests would be a fantastic end of the year project where students are driving their own learning but working toward a known goal.  Spend the last week of school with a time for students to share their learning with others.

As we head into summer break in the United States, consider suggesting Smithsonian Quests to parents as a great summer-time learning opportunity.

Tips:  Register for free and have a look around to see all of the cool opportunities for your classroom!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Smithsonian Quests in your classroom.

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