With many schools blocking access to YouTube as a way to protect students from content that is inappropriate — or worse — the online video site opened a new network Monday that allows access only to content that can be used in the classroom.
The network setting, YouTube for Schools, gives schools the option to sign up with the Web site’s education channel, YouTube EDU. By signing up, schools automatically disable certain features, including the ability to make comments on posted videos, and other distractions to student learning, YouTube announced.
Schools in New York City limit students' ability to navigate the full Web from computers in classrooms and labs, to prevent the students from seeing or posting content that is not age or subject appropriate. But some educators say the block restricts their ability to use cutting-edge — or even routine — materials for their teaching.
A commenter named Bob Drake posted this response to a SchoolBook query, "Should schools limit Internet access?"
This morning seventh-grade students on their iPads discussing continental drift could not access an image of Pangea because Google Images is totally blocked by their restrictive browser. Does this level of censorship really benefit the student? Are the kids that age really so immature that they cannot have unfettered access to images?
Another commenter, Starr Sackstein, the New York State regional director of the Journalism Education Association, said:
I work for a journalism school and the blocks put on the internet make it challenging for my reporters to do real research.
Twitter traffic following YouTube's announcement included some of those criticisms. Reacting to the hashtag #YouTubeForSchools, Ira Socol posted: “The danger of #YouTubeforSchools is pressure on open YouTube schools to limit access. It's not all good #edchat.”
Still, Educational Digital Books and Online Knowledge, or @ed_bok, seemed to like the idea, and said that YouTube was offering “tons of free #educational content.”
Annie Baxter, a YouTube spokeswoman, said that YouTube EDU had a half million videos for educators to choose from at the kindergarten to university level, as well as specialized content on specific topics in subject areas like biology, mathematics and ancient history. Teachers are also invited to populate the subject categories, called playlists, when they come across videos on the mainstream YouTube Web site.
Teachers and students: Have there been times when learning was inhibited because a useful site was blocked? And what do you think of the new YouTube setting? Will it solve the problems?
Please share your thoughts and examples in the query below.
The number of educational YouTube videos was incorrect in an earlier version of this post. It has been corrected.