We all know that the comments section under a YouTube video is a dangerous place. If you’re showing a quick video in class, here are four ways to ensure that your students’ attention is focused on what you want them to see – not words you don’t want them to learn in your presence.
Safe YouTube allows you to share YouTube videos with your class by pasting the video link on the Safe YouTube site and then sharing their link. Students won’t see suggested videos or comments, but they will see any ads that appear (unless they’ve installed an Ad Blocker!). Unlike other similar services, this one is free.
Toggle YouTube Contents is an extension that gets to work when you open up a YouTube video: the comments section will not automatically show. You CAN read comments, if you wish, by clicking “Show Comments.” The great thing about this extension is that you don’t have to remember to turn it on – it will always engage when you pull up YouTube.
Turn off the Lights darkens your screen so that only the YouTube video (or any video!) is easy to see. This is a slightly more robust app, though, as you can select an option to have this feature on all websites you visit – so if you want your students to focus on just part of the Parts of the Frog website you’ve pulled up, you click where they should focus and dim the rest of the site.
Other sites exist that will only show the video – and none of the other nonsense surrounding it. One is Clean Video Search – type your request into the search box, and when your video appears, it plays with a blank background. This is a good one for sharing YouTube links with your students to view independently.
If you’d like to tear through YouTube videos at a faster pace (right arrow) – or if you’d like to pause (space bar), rewind (j), or restart (o) – take a minute to master a few of these keyboard shortcuts. They come in handy when you’re showing clips to a class and want to be able to back up a few seconds or skip to the end.
Another way to keep the videos – and not the comments or suggested videos – at the forefront of your YouTube experience is to download Turn off the Lights – an extension that dims everything but the video when you select it – or Hide YouTube Comments – an extension that simply removes comments from every YouTube video you view until you feel like you’re missing out on what the keyboard warriors are saying and you delete the extension. 😐 😁
If you plan to include links to YouTube links to your study guides (or to any handout!), consider asking your students to add the DocuTube extension. Once installed, this program will offer students the option to view the YouTube videos you’ve linked in a pop-up window so that they don’t have to leave Google Docs. To get the add-on, students need to go to Google Docs –>Add-ons–>Get add-ons and then search for “DocuTube.” Try it out by adding it to your Chrome browser! It’s pretty handy.
VideoNot.es is a website (or an app) where you can put the URL of the video you’re watching on one side of the screen, and take notes on the other. Every time you write down some notes, it automatically records the timestamp of the video, so you can keep track of what part of the video you’re commenting on. The cool thing is that it’s integrated with Google Drive, so you can share and collaborate on notes – students can work on projects together, quiz one another, etc. And it’s for free! Above is a video tutorial:
When students upload videos that they’ve created to YouTube for sharing during class, they might forget to set the sharing settings correctly.
If they set videos to “Public” – the videos will be searchable. Because your students’ names are connected to their YouTube accounts (through Google), they may not want these videos public.
They should probably choose “Unlisted” – this way, they can give the link to only the people who should watch the video.
Remember — if they share the link to their YouTube video on, say, a Google Slides document, or on a Google Doc, for other students to see — they’ll have to remember to make that Google document visible, too! Otherwise no one will even be able to get to the video.
Here’s an article called “5 Ways to Share YouTube Videos Safely and Privately” that will help you to review your own sharing practices. I love tubechop.com, for example. My students did too.
If you or your students ever want to edit videos that you created and uploaded to YouTube, you need to be sure that you go to the Video Manager and set your video’s ownership to “Creative Commons.” There is an article here about how to do this, and why it’s important. There is also information on digital citizenship the students’ Chromebook Handbook.