12: YouTube Super Powers

We talked in our last Challenge about how to use YouTube to curate videos instead of just searching for and playing clips. Once you identify a group of videos and group them together into a list, you have essentially constructed a collection which becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Today’s tool looks at things from the other direction: what is the best way –especially in class when relying on a school network– to be certain that students see the video you want them to see?

There are several problems to solve here. The first is what to do about the fact that YouTube can be difficult to access from some schools. A close second is the problem that YouTube comes with lots and lots of advertisements. And a third problem is that the videos are often much longer than the specific portion you want students to see.

There is a single web tool that can solve all of these issues: TubeChop. This great site allows you to select only a portion of a longer YouTube video and play or link to only that section. Plus, TubeChop is often white-listed in school environments that block YouTube. Finally, TubeChop is completely ad-free.

For example, here, via a YouTube embed, is a great talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, hosted on YouTube:

And here is just my favorite portion of that talk, hosted on TubeChop. The TubeChop website provides embed code but it requires flash so I don’t generally like to use it:

All you have to do is:

  1. Find the video on YouTube that you’d like to chop, then
  2. Copy the video’s URL and paste it into the box at the top of the TubeChop page.

That’s it; it really couldn’t be simpler. TubeChop offers a couple of other benefits (such as a commenting system) but the real benefit is the ability to pick a specific portion out of a larger video and share it in lots of ways.

The second challenge that can crop up when you rely on YouTube for your class is what to do about spotty wifi, lack of access or firewalls getting in the way. I present at conferences several times a year and –believe me!– you only have to get stuck once in front of an audience while your video loads (and loads, and loads and loads…) before you decide to never rely on live-streaming video again. So, what’s the fix?

The answer is that you can download the YouTube video to your local computer. Now, this should rightfully raise some concerns regarding copyright, fair use and other legal issues but here is how I think of it: if I have the right to show the video from YouTube, then I have the right to download it and then show it, too. I’m not going to edit it, change it, sell it, charge people to see it… I’m just trying to stack the deck in my favor so that slow network speeds don’t kill my mojo.

This trick is so cool that people don’t believe it works. Here it is:

Just enter “ss” in front of the word “youtube” in your web browser.

In other words, load the YouTube page and then click up in the URL field in between the “www.” and the “youtube.com” (you’re clicking after the “dot” which follows the “www” and before the Y in “youtube”).

What this does is take you to www.ssyoutube.com instead of www.youtube.com. That address is owned by a company called SaveFrom.net and they do exactly what their name suggests: they allow you to save video from YouTube (and other sites, but we’re focused on YouTube here). Their software will present you with a screen offering choices for how you can download the YouTube video you started with and, in a few seconds (or minutes, depending on your internet speed), the video will be safely saved to your computer.

Skip past the ads and look for the small type that offers you a download with “slower speeds.” That’s the free option (see below). Click that link and, after a short delay, you’ll see your download options.

Click the down-arrow in the green box to see all of the various choices they give you for file format, resolution… you can even choose to download only the audio (useful for pulling songs down).

A quick note: they are going to try to get you to install some “helper” software… don’t bother. Just remember the “SS” Trick and you’ll always be fine. I fully expect that you don’t believe that this actually works… so go ahead and try it out. It’s OK… I’ll wait. 🙂

The Challenge

There isn’t really much to talk about here… these are just utility tools you can use to solve the obvious problem of how to take advantage of YouTube in difficult situations. So, instead, let’s take this opportunity to think back over our entire unit on Multimedia. We covered:

  • 07: Finding Royalty-Free Images
  • 08: Editing Images
  • 09: Recording Audio
  • 10: A Digression into Podcasts
  • 11: YouTube Super Powers
  • 12: YouTube Download

So… which of these do you see being the most impactful in your classroom? Which were the most thought-provoking? What are you most excited about trying out? How do you plan to use them?