By Anne Collier
Because most schools block entire social media sites in an effort to keep out inappropriate content, they also block all the perfectly appropriate and even educational content on the social Web. That goes for YouTube too, of course. But “YouTube has a vast library of content, much of which can be used for educational purposes,” PC Magazine reports, so Google launched YouTube for Schools , which includes “short lessons from top teachers around the world, full courses from the world’s best universities, professional development from fellow educators, and inspiring videos from thought leaders,” Google says on the new service’s home page. So in the service, only administrators and teachers can log into YouTube and watch any video, Google explains. Students, on the other hand, can only watch the videos available in “YouTube EDU,” where commenting’s disabled and search is limited to YouTube EDU. But school admins and teachers can use their ability to log into the all of YouTube to customize their school’s YouTube EDU by adding videos that work for their classes – maybe even videos produced by students for assignments (I’m certainly a supporter of that). Google has also created YouTube for Teachers, where they can learn how to turn video into a teaching tool and “tap into the mind of the visual learner and more,” as Google put it.
Social media – today’s media – belong in school. Why? Because, as I wrote in 2009, school needs to provide students with the same guidance and enrichment in their use of new media use that they’ve provided in their use of books and other traditional media. “Keeping social media out of school is actually putting our kids at greater risk as they are being left on their own without any modeling or mentoring,” wrote award-winning middle school teacher Marianne Malmstrom in New Jersey. “I believe leaving kids on their own [in new media] without caring adults’ guidance is irresponsible and more about protecting adults against imagined lawsuits than addressing the real needs of kids today” (I first quoted her here). She’s talking about helping students develop their own cognitive filters rather than teaching them to rely on a tech filter. As Nancy Willard of the Center for Safe & Responsible Internet Use puts it, it’s hard to teach swimming without a pool. YouTube/schools is one of those pools.
* Here’s further coverage at the BBC, the New York Times’s Schoolbook and at the San Jose Mercury News from my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid
* More on that cognitive filter: “School libraries: Vital filter developers”
* “Social media in the classroom: +1 or -1?”
* “Social media in school more? Yes!”