I’ve already written a couple of posts about how YouTube videos can be very useful teaching resources. But there are two potential problems with relying on videos from such a website. The first is that as teachers we have no control over whether those videos will be available when we want them next time around. And the second is that many public school systems have blocked access to YouTube from their school networks (largely over concerns about inappropriate content).
Fortunately, there is now a way forward.
A number of open source products make it possible for you to rip video files out of YouTube, save them locally, and then use them as you please in your classes. I’m using Video Downloadhelper to capture the video files and save them locally. It is a plug-in for the Firefox web browser that works quite well. The one downside is that the files are then saved as .flv files which are not viewable in the standard video players (Quicktime or Windows Media Player).
I’ve found two solutions for this problem. The first is the VLC media player. This open source product works very well in both the Mac and Windows environment. With it, I can play those .flv files without difficulty. The other possible solution is Vixy.net, a website that provides on the spot conversions of YouTube videos to either .avi or .mov files. This later option is slower–it took almost five minutes to convert and then download a nine minute video from YouTube using an ethernet connection. On the other hand, the result is a Quicktime file and so offers more options.
Either way, I now have my favorite YouTube videos that I use in my classes stored safely on my home computer. And, if I were a teacher at one of those schools that was blocking access to YouTube, I would have video files I could use in class without having to access them live online.