Youtube In Schools – to filter or not

What can we do about Youtube in our college. I am keen to explore this further but my current thinking is that we should remove all restrictions for Yr 6 students and up. The control mechanism should be to ensure that students are clearly informed of the expectations and school consequences of inappropriate use.

There is a lot of information available through Youtube, so much so that it is becoming the search engine of first choice. As soon as we close it down or restrict its access it is virtually the same as shutting down the library. One way to access some of the educational content is through Youtube for Ed. The problem is that students still cannot do their own searches so it still means the teacher is the one choosing the information they can access. This kills any sort of open inquiry learning, project based learning or ability to research what is needed for learning.

Currently staff at our school can request to have Youtube unblocked for their lessons but this creates a significant workload for IT staff. In any case, in what way are the issues in class going to be different with unlimited access? There are still the same supervision requirements. Also, outside of the classroom many students have their own devices (eg Smartphones) with which they can access Youtube. If they want to access stuff we don’t like, they still can.

A few years ago it was appropriate to disallow access by students to Youtube. There was certainly less awareness of the negative impact of negative online behaviour but the law has caught up and I think students are firstly more aware of the significant consequences of cyber bullying and also the ease with which people can be identified. The issue is still a problem but we have moved past the need to coordinate access to deal with the problem.

This doesn’t address the issue of creation of content in class which is impacted by a range of privacy laws too complicated to wrestle with in this post. The question we need to get back to is what is going to best the enhance the learning of the students in our school and ensure they are not disadvantaged by lack of access to resources which can help them learn. I am interested to know what others think.