the educational technology journal

Vol 17|No 4|March 2008
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Breaking the YouTube

By Jamie McKenzie
About author

There are many videos on YouTube that are worthy of class attention, yet some schools and school districts have decided to block its use. There are several reasons for such a blockade; namely, that YouTube can burden a network and provide easy access to objectionable material. Fortunately, there are ways for teachers to download good videos at home to share later in class. Once downloaded, they tend to perform faster and better than they would on a network.

There may be important copyright issues to address before downloading or playing anything that is listed at YouTube. Generally, it is better to go to the original source of the video (such as Dove's Web site at http://www.dove.co.uk/campaign-for-real-beauty.html), check the copyright conditions and only download the video if permission is explicitly granted. YouTube itself tries to prevent any such downloading from its site through its Terms of Use . It attempts to pass along responsibility for copyright infringement to the users who post videos. One may find videos on YouTube but not download them from the site.

"Dove Onslaught" available at
the Dove Self-Esteem Fund
and reproduced here with permission from Dove.

Truly a Burden?

Without a doubt, frequent use of YouTube can bring a network to its knees, effectively halting access to the outside world. During a recent hands-on workshop with teacher librarians and ed tech support folks, the network pretty much stopped working when the 100 participants tried to preview videos on YouTube. If they were able to start a video at all, it would play for a second or two and then halt for 10-15 seconds while waiting for the next segment to appear.

Truly a Risk?

Yes, there is disturbing content on YouTube. And the safeguards to protect the young are pretty weak. Yet many students have access to YouTube at home and some parents decide to teach their young ones to make responsible use of such resources, trusting them to make good decisions while monitoring their usage from time to time to ascertain that they have honored the family agreements.

Truly a Boon to Schools?

The collection of videos on YouTube includes some real treasures. Many of these would provide excellent support to classes in the arts, social studies, science and the language arts. This article is intended to illustrate the value of such videos before outlining how a site like ZamZar.com can enable teachers to download appropriate worthy videos for use in class. YouTube does not permit downloading of videos for school use so it is best to locate the original source of the video and verify copyright clearance before downloading at the source it self.

Examples of Powerful Videos

For those who wish to strengthen the media literacy skills and understandings of their students, a series of advertisements launched by Dove is just perfect. The series is designed to counter many of the damaging messages aimed at women by the so-called "Beauty Industry."

Dove Onslaught and Dove Evolution are slick but powerful. After viewing these ads, students might be asked to consider the following questions:

  • What is the message of each video?
  • What feelings do these videos evoke?
  • What thoughts do these videos evoke?
  • What questions do these videos evoke?
  • What techniques are employed to achieve these results?
  • How successful are these videos? Explain your answer.
  • What was the most effective image in each?
  • How did they employ humor?
  • How did they employ irony?
  • How did Dove Evolution illustrate the idea of "PhotoShopping Reality?"
  • Should these ads be shown to all young girls do you think? Explain.
  • Should these ads be shown to all parents do you think? Explain.
  • Should boys worry about such messages?
  • Did these videos shift or deepen your understanding of beauty?
  • Why do you suppose Dove is doing this? Do you trust their intentions?
  • If you worked for a beauty company satirized by these ads, how would you react?
  • Do you think these ads are fair? Explain.

To further deepen the students' appreciation of the effort, the teacher might then show Slob Evolution, a clever parody of Dove Evolution showing a good looking young man who smokes, drinks and eats his way into an unattractive state worsened by PhotoShopping.

  • What is the message of this video?
  • What is a parody?
  • Does this video contribute to the exploration of beauty and distorted reality or does it undermine it? Explain.
  • In which ways does the video mimic the Dove ad and in which ways does it show some novel techniques?
  • If you were to create a parody of Dove Onslaught, how would you do it?
  • What is the value of parody? of satire? How do they differ?

This trio of videos makes a powerful impact on any group I have tested it with and provokes deep consideration of essential issues. The nature of beauty? The impact of the beauty industry on women and men? The impact of new technologies? The power of images?

While first located on YouTube, these three videos were ultimately found at their source so that it was not necessary to download from YouTube. In contrast to these three, a fourth video, Killing Us Softly, can be found in chunks at YouTube but it appears that those chunks may be posted illegally, since the Web site for the producers and distributors of this film expressly prohibits this kind of republishing or use with an audience. Note copyright notice.


To show this video to an audience or class, one must purchase the DVD for the institutional price ($295.00 for colleges & universities, $150.00 for high schools & nonprofit organizations), this cost does include public screening rights on the film, allowing for you to show the film in any public or educational setting (so long as no admission is charged for the screening). If you purchase at the individual rate ($29.95), this is for home-use only, and is not licensed for educational or public screening.

It would seem that YouTube's offering of such copyrighted material is a slippery slope with regard to honoring copyright, but their terms of use put the burden of compliance on the users who post the videos. Does such sharing, distribution and publishing puts them in the position of a fence?

Judge for yourself.

The Power of a Poetic Voice

Not all audiotapes or podcasts are capable of capturing the imagination or holding a group's attention, but when you combine soulful words with a fine Irish brogue, the impact can be extraordinary.

After tasting the trio of videos, students at the high school level might appreciate John O'Donohue thoughts about beauty as opposed to glamour.

NPR: "Seeing Rare Beauty in the World" http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4533363&sc=emaf

Sadly, O'Donohue passed away in January of 2008. Readers can learn more about him and purchase his books at http://www.johnodonohue.com.

A lesson combining the three videos and this audiotape of an interview takes students into profound territory and challenges them to consider some of the most important issues facing our society and culture.

Steps in Downloading YouTube Videos

Teachers may go to http://zamzar.com once they have found a good video.

1. Identify the video at http://youtube.com
2. Find the original source Web site for the video (as with Dove above).
2. Copy the URL for the video from its original source (not YouTube).
3. Go to http://zamzar.com
4. Select the blue hyperlink for URL in Step One.
5. The page will change so that a new entry box will appear with "http://" in it where the URL from the video's source should be pasted.
6. Move through the next steps, selecting a file format that will work with the video software installed on your computer.
7. Enter your email address as instructed.

Zamzar will email instructions to you for returning to the site for the actual file downloading. Sometimes this message may take several hours to arrive in your email Inbox.

Once the email arrives, you have just 24 hours to download the file before they delete it.

After downloading the file, you may bring it to school and decide upon the best way to share it with students, recognizing that there may be copyright issues if you store it on the school's network.

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