Stumbling Through Video Sharing, or The Week I Almost Lost My Mind

From Digital Ethnography » Blog Archive » YouTube Statistics

This has been the toughest week of the course so far for me. I have spent way too many hours reading books and blogs and exploring video-sharing sites. In fact I’ve worked so many hours that today my husband said to me, “Sweetheart, how would you have time to do this course if you were still teaching?”

I felt so overwhelmed that I dug out my copy of Focus on Inquiry and looked at the description of the Processing phase of the inquiry process:

“Inquirers usually experience a sense of relief and elation when they have established a focus for their inquiry. Even so, choosing pertinent information from resources is often a difficult task; there may be too little information or too much information, or the information may be too superficial or too in-depth for the inquirers. Often the information that is found is confusing and contradictory, so students may feel overwhelmed” (Alberta Learning, 2004, p. 12).

Yes, that was me. Overwhelmed. While I understood from my reading that video sharing sites work for many teachers, my initial exploration of YouTube did not excite me. According to the YouTube statistics from Michael Wesch’s blog, Digital Ethnography, as of March 17th 2008, there were 78.3 Million videos on YouTube, and 150,000 videos are uploaded each day (Wesch, 2008b).

When I searched for videos that could be used to support curricula I found the site confusing, the search inefficient, and the videos generally of poor quality. In addition several searches yielded results with tags that were to say the least, inappropriate for a school context – even high school. There was also blatant and rampant copyright infringement.

 I looked for videos dealing with John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, as that is a project that I am presently reworking for an English teacher friend. What I found were many clips from commercial movies, and a variety of poorly done student re-creations of various parts of the story. Then I expanded my search to John Steinbeck and found The Dustbowl and the Great Depression.

This is the kind of project that I can see my students doing as they explore the life of migrant workers. It does likely infringe on copyrights, but we could avoid that by obtaining appropriate permissions and/or using non-copyrighted material.

In her blog posting, Have You Tried YouTube? Brenda Dyck talks about these constant trade-offs. She says, “Much to our chagrin, the very Web sites and online tools that provide incredible learning opportunities also provide the ever-present possibility for students to access and misuse inappropriate information and images. The enduring challenge for educators is how to access one without the other” (2007a).

Dyck goes on to discuss the fact that YouTube is blocked – and for many good reasons – in many schools. I know it is in mine, due not only to the inappropriate content, but also because of the fact that downloading video is a bandwidth issue. Dyck argues, ‘What better place than school to teach about and practice evaluating the value and ethical use of sites like YouTube? But just talking about it isn’t sufficient; students need the chance to develop their ability to evaluate Web content to determine “what is and isn’t appropriate, what is and isn’t academic, what is and isn’t true.” Anything less would lack authenticity'(2007a).

I agree with Dyck, but this has huge ramifications in terms of education not only of students but also of teachers and parents. In her follow-up article, she suggests using TeacherTube (2007b). I of course looked at TeacherTube and was relieved to find the educational quality and attention to privacy concerns and content lacking in YouTube, although my search on Steinbeck found only two videos. This site, as with other educational video-sharing sites I investigated, including SchoolTube, Studi 4 Networks, SchoolWax tv, and JoVE: Journal of Visualized Experiments – Biological Experiments And Protocols, and 3 steps for 21st century learning had far more material for math and science teachers than for literature or the arts.

But of course it’s not just about the resources students can use, which is the part I have been struggling with.

So I know I am slow, and what I am saying is painfully obvious to all of you, my young colleagues, but I finally get it – it’s the Read/WRITE Web. Maybe it should be the Read/Write/Converse Web. Michael Wesch’s presentation “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” made this so clear to me: video sharing is just as much about the sharing – and the conversation it creates — as it is the video. Think of the Numa Numa song, moving from person to person around the world (Wesch, 2008a).

In their report titled Pew Internet: Teens and social media, “The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet, up from 57% of online teens in a similar survey at the end of 2004″ [underlining is mine] (Lenhart, Madden, Macgill,, & Smith, 2007, p.2).

Of course we want our students to have access to quality curriculum-related videos as part of their instruction, but we also need to facilitate our students’ creation of video. Students need to be involved with the process of creating product, as well as simply viewing it. And that finally helps me to see more clearly just how YouTube might fit, at least in my high school. Our Communication Technology students create a variety of products, ranging from portfolios of their photographs to computer animation projects to short music videos to a full television news broadcast (we have a professional quality TV studio) complete with news, sports, weather, and commercials.  

These products were shared only with teachers and classmates, and at Open House. Last year I suggested to the teacher that she have a noon hour showing of the best of the work. We booked our large central atrium and had a week of sharing that included displays of photographs and portfolios in the library as well as video showings for ever-increasing audiences of fascinated students, some of whom didn’t even know of the Comm Tech program’s existence.

If those students had their work shared on TeacherTube, what a resource that could grow to be. They can compare their work with that from thousands of other students around the world, and can learn from successes and the mistakes of their peers. Their teacher can hone her instructional techniques with dozens of exemplars, both from her own and from other teachers’ students. And as Will Richardson says, these videos can be aimed at “real people outside the classroom” (2008, p.121).

In Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0, Susan Ariew gives a great example of this. She discusses how her library used a student volunteer who was an avid YouTube user/creator to help library staff create videos for library instruction. The first video, Databases, was posted only on YouTube as it infringed on copyright and was not technically perfect. But the staff was hooked. They invested time and planning and money on higher-quality equipment, and their second video, “The Chronicles of Libraria,” was posted by the library and received national attention. The student volunteer spoke at a library conference, showing his presentation Youtube, Librarians, and Me. Now planning for further videos is an important aspect of library programming, so much so that the library sponsors a video contest to solicit more instructional videos created by students (2008, pp. 125-132).

I’ve been asked to do a presentation on Web 2.0 at my previous school, fortunately not until this course is over! I’m already planning the video-sharing section. I’m looking forward to reading your blogs to help me stumble a little less on my way.


Alberta Learning. (2004). Focus on inquiry: A teacher’s guide to implementing inquiry-based learning. Edmonton AB: Alberta Learning. Retrieved September 24, 2008, from Alberta Education Web site:‌k_12/‌curriculum/‌bysubject/‌focusoninquiry.pdf

Ariew, S. (2008). Joining the YouTube conversation to teach information literacy. In P. Godwin & J. Parker, Information literacy meets Library 2.0 (pp. 125-132). London: Facet.

Accompanied by a bog at

Clark, J. A. (2007). YouTube university: Using XML, web services, and online video services to serve university and library video content. In L. B. Cohen (Ed.), Library 2.0 initiatives in academic libraries (pp. 156-167). Chicago: Association for College & Research Libraries.

The book is accompanied by a wiki found at‌L2Initiatives/‌index.php?title=Main_Page

Dyck, B. (2007, May 1). Education World ® Technology Center: Brenda’s blog: Have you tried YouTube? (Part 1). Message posted to‌a_tech/‌columnists/‌dyck/‌dyck015.shtml

Dyck, B. (2007, May 15). Education World ® Technology Center: Brenda’s blog: Using YouTube in the classroom. Message posted to‌a_tech/‌columnists/‌dyck/‌dyck016.shtml

Edublogs. (2008). 3 steps for 21st century learning. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from

Etraffic Press. (n.d.). SchoolWAX TV [Educational video sharing]. Retrieved September 28, 2008, from

Godwin, P., & Parker, J. (Eds.). (n.d.). Information literacy meets library 2.0.

Accompanied by a blog at

JoVE: Journal of Visualized Experiments – biological experiments and protocols on video. (2008). Retrieved September 23, 2008, from

Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Macgill,, A. R., & Smith, A. (2007, December 19). Pew Internet: Teens and social media. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Pew Internet & American Life Project Web site:‌pdfs/‌PIP_Teens_Social_Media_Final.pdf

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

RuneHQVideos (Director). (2007). The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression [Motion picture]. YouTube. Retrieved September 24, 2008, from‌watch?v=gplaqa2yRgg

SchoolTube. (2008). Retrieved September 23, 2008, from  

Contains approximately 6200 videos

Science videos search engine [Indexes videos from other sites]. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2008, from

Studio 4 Networks, Inc. (2008). Studio 4 Learning. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from

TeacherTube – Teach the world: Teacher videos, lesson plan videos, student video lessons online. (2008). Retrieved September 23, 2008, from

Wesch, M. (Writer/‌Director). (2008). YouTube – An anthropological introduction to YouTube [Motion picture]. United States: YouTube. Retrieved September 23, 2008, from‌watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU&feature=user

Wesch, M. (2008, March 18). Digital Ethnography blog archive: YouTube statistics. Message posted to‌ksudigg/‌?p=163