You Can Take It With You

10/15/2007 By: Jeffrey Branzburg

from Technology & Learning

How to integrate video segments in curriculum—without worry.

Video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Google Video contain a great deal of education- related content. For example, take YouTube's CitizenTube, an area where presidential candidates can post videos, participate in interviews, and respond to users' questions and comments. Let's say you want your students to have access to those interviews. The problem is that YouTube and Google Video also contain inappropriate material for students, and therefore several schools and districts have blocked access to those sites. So, how can you get hold of the most useful videos and leave the rest?

It's easy if your school or district does not block YouTube. You can simply embed the video into a blog. For example, the page of the YouTube interview with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat presidential hopeful, includes both the URL and the code that can be used to embed the video.

Citizen Tube

Now it's easy to keep your students informed on 2008 presidential election issues with new download video tools.

Embedding this video into a blog usually involves just copying and pasting the Embed code to the blog entry. That way the video plays within the blog without the viewer actually going to YouTube, thus avoiding further exploration of the site. Another method is to copy and paste the URL to a blog or a Web site in order to create a link to it. Clicking the URL, however, will take you to YouTube to view the video, with the possibility of accessing other—perhaps inappropriate—content. For copyright information, see the Copyright and YouTube sidebar below.

If your school or district does block YouTube, then the link approach will not work. Instead you will need to download the video. However, you'll notice that YouTube does not provide a direct download link. You can do an Internet search for "download YouTube," but your search will return thousands of hits. What to do? Here's what I did to download Governor Richardson's YouTube video.

The first download service I tried was Video Downloader 2.0. By entering the video's URL, I was able to download the YouTube file directly to my computer. This file, however, had the extension FLV (Flash Video), which was unrecognized by my computer. I tried opening it with Google Video Player, Windows Media Player, and iTunes. No luck. The Video Downloader 2.0 site does let you convert FLV files to WMV (Windows Media Video), AVI (Audio Video Interleave), or other standard video formats, but that entailed downloading software, which I did not want to do. Although the site provides a free, downloadable FLV player, I preferred to convert the video to a format recognized by mainstream video players, such as the above-mentioned WMV or AVI, as well as MOV or QT (used to view Apple's QuickTime videos).

I did find other YouTube download services, but they also kept the format as FLV. Two sites, Vixy.net and Zamzar, however, offered conversion to the formats I wanted.

Vixy.net offered to convert FLV files to either AVI for Windows, MOV for Mac, MP4 for iPod, 3GP for mobile phone, or MP3 (audio only). I entered the YouTube URL, decided to convert it for my iPod, and clicked Start. An on-screen counter showed the conversion progress.

My first attempt at using Vixy.net stalled after about 43 percent was converted; after about 10 minutes with no movement, I cancelled and tried again. This time, it stalled at 62 percent. One more try, and it worked. The system then automatically began downloading the 20MB file to my computer (download time will depend on the speed of your Internet connection).

vixy

Vixy.net and Zamzar are two download services that take online video and convert it into multiple video formats.

I also tried the same conversion on Zamzar, a free online file conversion service. To use Zamzar, you can either upload a file or enter the file's URL, then choose a format you want to convert to, enter your email address (to receive a link to the converted file), and click Convert. I chose to convert to MP4 for my iPod. It took about three minutes for the conversion, and a few minutes later I received an e-mail telling me the file was done and giving me a link to download it.

zamzar

Now to get the converted video onto my iPod. I began by opening the iTunes program on my computer and connecting my iPod. I had saved the converted MP4 file on my desktop, so when I chose Import from the iTunes File menu I navigated to the desktop and imported the file. I then checked the Movies section of my iTunes library, and there it was! Just to ensure that it actually would play, I double-clicked it in iTunes, and it immediately started playing. The last step was to copy the video onto my iPod; this is done by synchronizing it with iTunes. Choosing Sync Jeffrey Branzburg's iPod from the File menu started the process, and in a minute or so I was viewing Governor Richardson's YouTube interview on my iPod.

Copyright and YouTube

Worried about copyright? The YouTube Terms of Use states, regarding user submissions, "You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service."
(http://youtube.com/t/terms, section 6 part C)

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and columnist for T&L.

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