YouTube is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's an invaluable educational resource. I've been trying (and failing) for the last 10 minutes to create a sentence that summarizes all of things you can learn from YouTube because there's just too much. Speaking for just myself, I've gained inspiration from TED Talks, learned classroom management techniques, shared videos on seasonal change with students, stayed up to date on changes to G Suite, decided what phone to buy, learned to play complicated board games,  use AutoCrat, tidy my inbox, service my car, fold my laundry, do tricks on skis, perform card tricks, terminate network cables...you get the idea. Dan Meyer, a math curriculum developer, puts it well, "The digital projector allows me to punch a hole through the wall of my classroom and bring in the outside world."


On the flip side, some YouTube videos are inappropriate. The comments section for videos can be sub-literate or profane. YouTube is also just an easy way for students (and staff) to goof off; I speak from experience here. So how do we best take advantage of this magic portal, while eliminating or minimizing some of YouTube's weaknesses? Read on to find out!



How YouTube Access Works at TSS

YouTube is classified as an 'Additional Service' under our license agreement with Google. Unlike 'Core Services', like Drive, Mail, and Calendar, YouTube isn't subject to the same service-level agreements (i.e. Google doesn't guarantee that YouTube will be working 99.9% of the time, like they do with Drive or Mail). Unlike Core Services, YouTube also can (and does) show ads on the site. You can learn more about Core and Additional services here.


Faculty, staff, interns, and graduate students have "Unrestricted Access". This means that when you're logged into your TSS account and visiting YouTube, you can use the site just like you would at home, with no restrictions. Independent school students, on the other hand, operate under 'Restricted Mode":

  • JS and TVCS Elementary Students- Strict Restriction
  • TVCS Middle School, JS Middle School, and JS High School- Moderate Restriction

When students are logged in using their school Google credentials, or using a TSS-owned Chromebook, YouTube does its best to hide potentially objectionable content. Note that these restrictions are only in place if a student is using a TSS device or is logged into YouTube with their TSS credentials. If the student is using their own laptop, then these restrictions can be bypassed by using a different account or a different browser.


Some folks in the organization, such as TVCS and Journeys faculty, have the ability to approve videos for viewing by students. If you're an approver, then you'll see this blue banner below your video:

 

If you choose to Approve a video for tetonscience.org, this will immediately whitelist the video so that all students can see it. If you make a mistake an accidentally approve a video you didn't intend, you'll also have the opportunity to reject it:



In addition, if there's a publisher or content creator that you really trust, it's also possible to whitelist an entire channel. This will enable all content released by that channel to be viewable by students, without you having to review each video they've released.


How to Enable Restricted Mode

Even though restricted mode isn't enabled for faculty and staff, there may be times when you might want to turn it on anyway. If you're going to be playing videos in front of a class, for instance, you may want to lower the odds that you'll stumble across objectionable content by accident. Restricted mode will also hide all comments and live chat from view.


To enable Restricted Mode, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on the "Restricted Mode" box. Next, change the setting to "On", and click Save.


Some Keyboard Shortcuts (Full list is available here)

All of the keyboard shortcuts below are useful when controlling a video that's currently playing. Rather than fumbling around with your mouse to select the correct control, it's easier to, say, tap the k key if you need to pause your video during class or a presentation.  Note that these only work if the player window is the element on the page that has 'focus'. In other words, you'll need to click somewhere inside the video frame before these shortcuts will be effective:


left and right arrows- skip back or forwards 5 seconds

j and l keys- skip back or forwards 10 seconds

Spacebar or k- start and stop your video 

Home or 0- Skip to the beginning

End- Skip to the end

1-9- Skip to the 10-90% mark of your video

F- toggle full-screen mode

M- Mutes your video



Turn off Autoplay

By default, YouTube has a setting enabled called "Autoplay" which, as you probably already know, automatically starts another video after your current video ends. This can be a useful feature if you're just vegging out at watching a bunch of short videos at home, but it's often a distraction in the classroom. "After watching this tutorial with my students, I'd just love it if YouTube could pick some random video for us to watch next," said no teacher, ever.


To turn this behavior off, look for a toggle in the upper right-hand corner of the YouTube website, above the column of "Up Next" videos:



You want to click on this toggle, so that it turns grey, to disable Autoplay.


Disable Annotations (for ALL videos)

While we're turning off annoying settings, you can also turn off Annotations as well. Annotations are the text boxes and links that you used to see pop up on as an overlay on playing videos. YouTube has thankfully deprecated annotations so creators can't use them any more, but you still run across them in old videos.


To turn off annotations, you need to click on your profile picture in the upper-right hand corner, then select Settings:


Next up, click on Playback and uncheck the "Show annotations and in-video notifications" checkbox. Then click Save.


Send a Link to An Exact Moment in Your Video 

Often, we find ourselves in a situation where we want to share a video with a class or a coworker, but we don't really need them to watch the whole video. Maybe it's a poignant comment in an hour-long presentation. I've gotten emails from people that include the link to a video, with a side comment: "Just skip ahead to 2:36, that's when she says the really insightful stuff."


But YouTube already lets you do this, no commenting required. There are at least three ways to send a link to someone that will start the video at exactly the place you want.


1. Right click on the video, then click on "Copy video URL at current time".


2. Below the video, in the 'Share' section, you can choose exactly when you want your video to start for your link recipient:


3. You can manually edit the the video URL by adding a question mark, then t= with your desired start time in minutes, seconds, or both:


https://youtu.be/RlsGHo5Rjh8?t=1m




Watch Later Playlist

Every YouTube account comes with a private playlist called "Watch Later." If someone sends you a video that you don't have time to watch, you can add it to the Watch Later list. It's kind of like an Amazon wishlist, but for YouTube videos you want to, uh, watch later.


Below the currently playing video, you can click on the 'Add to' button, then select 'Watch later'.



You can access your Watch Later playlist by expanding YouTube's left-hand navigation bar, then clicking on the 'Watch Later' link under Library: