Uploading Videos: Lessons Learned

As part of my ITMA project, which I’m just going to go ahead and create a tag for, I decided I would create several screencasts. Often when I want to learn something about a piece of software or how to do something on the web, nothing is as helpful to me as a screencast.

My tool of the trade for creating screencasts is Snapz Pro X, which I downloaded initially at the suggestion of my ITMA program as a good screencap tool. I know it’s not absolutely necessary to have an additional tool when you can capture your screen using tools native to your computer, whether you’re running Windows or Mac OS X, but I took their advice. I eventually sprung for the additional license to create videos. Creating screencasts with Snapz Pro X is very easy. However, I have often found the first time I try to do something new technologically speaking, I have to fall flat on my face and really mess it up, maybe even do it a few times, before I finally get it right. Screencasting has proven to be no exception.

I created three screencasts for my module on RSS for the project. Each demonstrates how to subscribe to an RSS feed using a different reader. I uploaded the screencasts to TeacherTube and waited. And waited. Finally, I tweeted a question about the moderation time and learned the terrible news. TeacherTube’s moderation period is glacial. Most people said anywhere from one to three days. So I waited to see what the videos looked like because I didn’t see any sense in reshooting or uploading anything to YouTube unless I had to. When the videos were finally approved, I learned that they looked horrible. I suspected it had to do with the size of the video, so I tried some experiments uploading the video to YouTube, changing the size, and finally decided I needed to reshoot it in a smaller size if it was going to look right on YouTube.

Eventually I tried uploading the video again, this time with the smaller size, and I discovered that there was no audio. I am not sure why it happened, unless it has something to do with the file format. I chose Quicktime Movie (.mov). I opened up iMovie and added a title to the beginning, then tried uploading to YouTube from iMovie, and voilà! I managed to get the video up with a picture I could actually see and sound.

After having gone through this process of trial and error, I learned how to upload a screencast properly. Even though I had created screencasts before, I had never posted them to YouTube. I have a horror of the folks who leave comments there. So, I just turned the comments off. I know that comments can be moderated, but I didn’t want to bother with it.

Oh, here is the one I managed to revise and get working today. The other two are tomorrow’s first task.

YouTube Preview Image

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Embedding YouTube Videos in PowerPoint Presentations

I learned something new today.  I found a really good YouTube video about the Bayeux Tapestry.

YouTube Preview Image

I was sharing some historical background on England from 1066-1485 with my students, and I wanted to show them the video, but I hadn’t thought about the possiblity of embedding it, so I wound up switching from PowerPoint to the video and back.  Not a huge hassle, but later on as I was reflecting over the lesson, I wondered if it might be possible to embed a video in PowerPoint, so I did a Google search and disovered this helpful video:

YouTube Preview Image

Even though I have Word 2007 on my computer at work, I was able to figure out how to embed the video following the instructions.  Here’s what’s different:

YouTube Preview Image

You must be connected to the Internet for this to work.

Here is the PowerPoint I created.  It is licensed under an Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike Creative Commons License.

The Middle Ages in England

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: tapestry bayeux)


I strongly recommend downloading this presentation because it probably won’t work for you on Slideshare, or at least all the features won’t work. I cannot get embedded videos to work on my Mac.  Does anyone know why or how to make them work?  It’s not a huge problem, as my work computer is the one I use for my SMART Board, but I am curious as to how it might be done. If you have any problems downloading it, please let me know, and I can work on it from my work computer tomorrow. Our dinosaur desktop here at home won’t allow me to open the PowerPoint without freezing, my husband’s Windows laptop doesn’t have PowerPoint, and my daughter’s already let me hog her computer enough.

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YouTube is Blocked…

Carol recently left a comment regarding my UbD unit for Death of a Salesman. This unit utilizes several videos I found on YouTube in order to help students learn more about the concepts central to the unit; however, Carol says that one stumbling block she will encounter if she chooses to use this unit is that YouTube is blocked at her school.

I will spare you all a rant about the utter shortsightedness of blocking all of YouTube rather than educate students about using it properly and instead offer a suggestion for getting around this sticky problem.

I added an extension to Firefox called Better YouTube. Through this extension, I discovered a way to download videos from YouTube. If you have Firefox, consider using this extension. If you don’t use Firefox, or don’t want the extension, you can still download videos.

First, copy the URL of the video. Next, point your browser to one of many available tools to download vidoes. This one from TechCrunch is quite popular. Your downloaded video will be in flv format (.flv). You will need a program to play it. VLC is a popular program, but there are others. You can search for “flv players” and try different ones.

The problem as I see it is that any school that bans YouTube most likely will also not allow employees to download programs. If you have a flash drive, you can try downloading and installing the program on the flash drive. The movies will all fit on a flash drive or CD, too, as the largest one was about 90 MB when I downloaded in in FLV format (and it is about 45 minutes long).

Do readers have any suggestions for getting around YouTube bans so that the valuable videos that are blocked along with the inappropriate dreck can be accessed?

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Video and Animoto

Some of you may already be familiar with Philip Scott Johnson‘s videos on YouTube, but in case you aren’t, here is a sample (one of his more popular videos):

Johnson’s videos have a lot of potential for use in art and social studies classes. In the tradition that a picture is worth a thousand words, his videos will speak volumes to students studying topics as diverse as the Civil War, geography, film, and Picasso.

After your class has viewed a Johnson video, it might be fun for them to use Animoto to create a similar video. Here is an Animoto video I created using old photographs of my family:

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Students 2.0

I was thrilled today when my 9th grade students told me they created a study group on Facebook to keep up with work in my class and help each other as they study Romeo and Juliet. When they told me, they were almost sheepish, as if they were afraid they were doing something wrong. I told them it was an excellent use of Facebook, as far as I was concerned. I do wish the students would make use of the commenting aspect of the blog I’ve set up for study purposes, but I am glad they are making use of social networking in such a positive way.

I have asked them to memorize Mercutio’s “Queen Mab” speech, too. Unable to find a complete version of the speech online that they could hear, they created a YouTube video in which one the students reads the speech. Their thinking was that they could play the video and recite along with it. I decided it was an excellent idea. I recorded myself reading the speech in mp3 format so they can download it to their mp3 players and practice on the go. If you are curious, here it is, but don’t laugh at my voice:

Download link

I’m really excited to see my students refute the naysayers and use technology like Facebook and YouTube in such positive and helpful ways. The fact is that if we do teach students how to use these tools for such purposes, they will. I use YouTube in my classroom all the time. Facebook is blocked at school, and I understand why, but I am excited that they use the site at home for schoolwork in addition to socializing.

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