YouTube is still the best place to find videos to use in the classroom, despite being blocked in many schools. If your school does allow you to use YouTube there are a few cool tips and tricks to improve your use of YouTube in the classroom.

Remove the clutter:

Often, the biggest problem with YouTube isn’t the video content, but some of the inappropriate comments that can occur in the space below the video. It is possible to make use of several sites which clean up YouTube and remove the page clutter:

1. QuieTube
QuieTube gives you a button which you can drag to your toolbar. When you see a YouTube video you want to use, click the button and you’ll get a URL which will let you watch just the video. Embed this link into your IWB page to go straight to the video page.

2. View Pure
Go to the View Pure website, enter the URL of a YouTube video and it strips out everything but the video. Very simple to use. You can even drag a button to your desktop which does the job. You can also then take the URL of the page you get, and hyperlink to that page.

3. Accessible YouTube
Accessible YouTube is is an interface to YouTube designed for people who access their computers via either 2 switches or a mouse. It allows the user to use two keys/switches or a mouse to navigate through a list of videos, and watch any or all of them. Currently the list of videos can be a playlist, the results of a video search, the related videos for a particular video, or YouTube’s most popular videos. For now, you must use Firefox in order for it to work.

4. YouTube XL
YouTube XL is (was) a modified version of YouTube designed to use on large-screen televisions, and so also on Interactive Whiteboards. The interface makes it simpler to use by cutting out a lot of the clutter on the page. Theres no way of hyperlinking to a specific video, but you can add any you like to your Favourites, which you can then access under the Favourites tab on the main YouTube XL screen.

(Update – sadly XL is no more. Can try YouTube TV for something similar)

Other YouTube Tricks

5. Hyperlink to specific point in a video
It’s possible to link directly to a specific point in a YouTube video. Play the video, and keep an eye on the white blob that moves along the timeline below the video, (the thing you drag to move forwards/back through the video). When you get to the point in the video that you want to jump to, right click on the blob and choose “copy video URL at current time”.

If you now use this link as a hyperlink in your IWB software or PowerPoint, the video will start playing at the point that you chose.

6. Disable related videos 
If you don’t want students to see other content that may be related but unsuitable then all you need to do is to add ‘&rel=0′ to the end of the url part of the embed code.

7. Watch in High Quality

Don’t forget that you can choose the video quality of the video, where available. You will able to see the video quality currently being shown towards the bottom right corner of the video. Click on that to see if other settings are available. When displaying on a large whiteboard, choose the best settings your internet connection can cope with.

8. Subtitles / Closed Captioning

If available, you can turn on subtitles by clicking on the CC button. You can even try a beta service which attempts to transcribe the audio on the fly – although this can be a little hit and miss.

Click on the CC button and then choose “settings” to change the size, font and colour of the captions.

9. Interactive Transcripts

Many videos now also have an interactive transcript. Keep an eye out for the Interactive Transcript icon below the video, which looks like this:

When clicked, a transcript of all the dialogue is displayed. Each line will highlight in time with the video. Even better, click on a line in the transcript to jump to that section of the video. This is a handy way of jumping to a chosen part of a very long video.

You could also select sections of text and copy/paste into a document, perhaps to make a comprehension activity out of it.

Not every video has an interactive transcript. But do look out for the feature where available. To see an example of it at work, take a look at this video.

Got any more YouTube tips or tricks? Add them to the comments below!