Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Show YouTube and Other Internet Video for School Easily

There is a lot of useful educational material on YouTube, Google Video and other Internet video sites. The problem, of course, is that most if not all of these sites are blocked by most school districts. Some textbooks now come with online video lessons, but even if you are fortunate enough to have access, your Internet connection is probably slow and unreliable. Thus you might be understandably be discouraged from even bothering to look for video that would help supplement your lessons.

Luckily, there are tools out there for downloading and/or converting almost all types of online videos to something you could play directly from your computer. This means you could find and download what you needed at home, then put it on a CD, DVD or thumb drive and bring it to school for easy, immediate playback.

The easiest method requires two downloads:
  1. Mozilla Firefox - Hopefully you've heard of this open-source, free alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It has two overwhelming benefits: it's more stable and secure than IE, and there are tons of free add-ons that can make it do exactly what want. You should download this regardless of whether you want to download video or not!
  2. Video DownloadHelper extension for Firefox - This add-on adds a button to your main toolbar that lights up every time you're on a site that contains video it can download. Just click on it, and you will see what can be saved to your computer. You can even make it convert videos to different formats--something you could play in Windows Media Player, Apple Quicktime, or even an iPod (which of course wouldn't be very helpful in most school districts, but might be helpful for you personally).
This would make it easier to show something like a video from The Futures Channel, an excellent resource that has short, engaging videos on all sorts of math, science and technology topics and relevant lesson plans for each one. Instead of crossing your fingers for your school's unreliable Internet connection to work, you could use this to have a downloaded backup copy at the very least (although this is against their Terms of Use so I cannot, of course, condone it).

Neither of these programs will take up a lot of space or resources on your computer, and have far more benefits than this specific function. I'll be sure to share more things you can do with Firefox to help you in the classroom in the future.

UPDATE 12/20/08: There's another new website I learned about from Lifehacker called KickYouTube. It's painfully simple: Find the URL of the video you want to download. Insert "kick" before "youtube" in the URL, and you'll be able to download the video in a number of formats. Best of all, it requires no software download at all.

Larry Ferlazzo has shared more ways to access educational videos at school as well. Please share your best resources in the comments.