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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Avoiding the distractors of YouTube

YouTube is full of incredible videos for education.  In its native page, however, it is also full of distractions: ads before the video starts, suggested videos along the right side, and comments below.  Potentially, all of these may have inappropriate material, especially when considering elementary students.

Here are two main ways to get around this: using embedded codes, or using an alternative site that shows a "clean" version of the video.

Embedded Codes

When you go to a video on YouTube, go below and click on the Share tab.  By default, the first tab (also labelled Share) is shown first, which has a URL.   For most instances, copying and pasting this is fine, but the URL will bring you to the "official" YouTube page in all its glory...and distractions.

Instead, click Share and then click Embed:

Copy and paste this code.  If you use Schoology, the same place you would paste the URL for the video will also accept this embed code.  The difference for the student is that the video will play inside of Schoology and not launch to a new page or tab outside of it.  Also, no ad will play at the beginning, and since you are only seeing the video, you will not see the comments or the videos alongside yours.

*If you want another level of control, you can also turn off the suggested videos at the end of playing the video.  (This means the only thing a students will see at the end is a chance to replay the video.)

In your "Embed" tab as shown above, click on "Show More":

Next, uncheckmark the first box for "Show suggested videos after the video finishes":

The embed code will now be altered to reflect this change.  Copy the embed code as before and paste it into Schoology.

Alternative Sites for Viewing

Another option for a "cleaner" interface is to copy the YouTube video's URL and paste it in another site.  There are multiple options on the Web where you can watch the YouTube video in the same way as above: no ads, no comments, no suggested videos.  Two that I would recommend is View Pure (and thanks to Donnie Piercey for his blog entry about it!) and Safeshare.TV.   Once you paste the original YouTube URL in these sites, a new URL is generated.  This View Pure or Safeshare link is the one you want to copy and paste into Schoology, your email, etc.  When a student clicks it, they will be taken to this clean interface version.

There is an important caveat for both of these options, however.  When either embedding or filtering, YouTube will not allow a site or system to block the YouTube logo in the lower right of the video frame.  If a student clicks on it, a new tab/page will open that is the video's original page on YouTube.

For a more detailed video on both of these options, please view below.

*Update 2/25/16: I added the directions for going to "Show More" and turning off the suggested videos at the end.  Thank you Yasmine Fleming for the tip!

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