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Google Updates YouTubeforSchools and YouTubeEdu


by von simplebitsdan via Flickr under CreativeCommons

By Paul Glader

BERLIN – The popular video-sharing site is rolling out new educational channels and special YouTube categories, aiming to convince primary and secondary schools to use educational videos in the classroom more often.

With the rise of tutorials by institutions like MIT, UC Berkeley and educators like Salman Khan’s Khan Academy, YouTube realizes demand is high for quality instructional videos for students, teachers and schools. But many schools blocked online videos from their networks.

“It often happens at the school administrator level,” said Angela Lin, head of YouTubeEdu. “On the ground, teachers are itching to have these resource available.”

So YouTube, owned by Google Inc., has developed YouTube for Schools, a network setting that school administrators can turn on to grant access to a special version of YouTube that only allows views of the educational content from YouTube EDU. Teachers can choose from the hundreds of thousands of videos on YouTube EDU created by more than 600 partners like the Smithsonian, TED, Steve Spangler Science, and Numberphile.

Schools can turn on only the educational videos and not the full YouTube ( It requires a network setting change at the school). YouTube has been developing the changes in the last year and beta-testing YouTubeForSchools for the past few months with a small group of teachers and schools.

“We’ve been hearing from teachers that they want to use the vast array of educational videos on YouTube in their classrooms, but are concerned that students will be distracted by the latest music video or cute cat, or a video that wasn’t appropriate for student,” wrote Brian Truong, Product Manager for YouTube, in a blog post. “While schools that restrict access to YouTube may solve this distraction concern, they also limit access to hundreds of thousands of educational videos on YouTube that could help bring photosynthesis to life, or show what life was like in ancient Greece.”

Here’s a video about YouTube for Schools.

Another reason YouTube put the videos in a more professional, walled garden is because other competitors – from textbook publishers to rival how-to video sites – could threaten YouTube in the educational video space. With the changes, however, Lin said she expects new content creators beyond established channels like TedTalks and Khan Academy will also start creating educational videos for YouTube. “We’re waiting for an art history expert to come on,” she said. “Maybe there is a foreign language expert superstar waiting to happen.”

On the usability side, YouTube curated the videos and categories to map to common core standards, adopted by most states in the U.S. The categories and channels are designed to help teachers sift through the thousands of videos, by creating 400 playlists broken out by subjects like Math, Science, Social Studies and English Language Arts. It is also broken down by grade level. The idea is to create organized libraries of the best quality videos in a way that is easy for teacher to find and use for their class lessons. For example, if a history teacher is teaching about divided Germany, there are 11 videos about the Berlin Wall currently on the portal.

Lin said YouTube wants teachers to curate playlists of videos around given topics. “If you are talking about the laws of motion,” she says, “You will be able to find a playlist of videos that illustrate the academic concept. Other videos show it in practice. A Rube Goldberg machine video shows the laws of motion.”

YouTube also tweaked the educational interface so that the right rail on the screen, which normally suggests other videos based on keywords, suggests only other educational videos. YouTube also disabled the comment section under the educational videos.

Lin said that the site has seen growth in education videos over the years and its YouTubeEdu category now has more than 600 channels. The site has 500,000 videos that are educational in nature. “Teachers before just didn’t have the keys to get in that library,” she said. “We are just giving them the key and access so they can go in and find what they need for their students.”

Truong notes that educational videos have come a long way from the 1980s and 1990s when teachers would wheel a TV into a classroom on a cart and pop in a VHS tape from the library about a science topic. “Sight, sound and motion have always had the power to engage students and complement classroom instruction by bringing educational topics to life,” he writes.

Here are some other links and details:

Teachers can go to YouTube welcomes input from teachers at this link (here).

To join YouTube for Schools or learn more about the program, go to

Here’s the technology behind how schools turn this on – essentially YouTube for Schools is a technology solution that lets schools just access videos from, and not the rest of YouTube. It also removes comments and related videos:
Here is the FAQ for schools.
Here is the list of education playlists put together by teachers:
Here are some of YouTube staff’s favorite videos. They could serve as good models for educators considering opening their own channels and creating videos.

Here is a sample video from one of the channel partners, Steve Spangler Science:

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