YouTube launches schools-friendly video service

The famous 'Sneezing Panda' clip on YouTube The school setting will mean pupils are not tempted away to viral clips like the famous 'sneezing Panda'

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YouTube, the world's largest video sharing service, has launched a new school-friendly version of its site.

YouTube For Schools promises classrooms access to educational videos without the risk of pupils being "distracted by the latest music video or cute cat".

The Google-owned site has put together playlists according to subject matter and intended age level.

Google said it hoped to attract schools which had previously been put off by inappropriate content on the site.

Project manager Brian Truong wrote in a blog post: "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 students.

"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."

The new service allows schools to turn on a network setting that means pupils can only access content from YouTube EDU - the site's section for education videos.

'Real engagement'

Teachers within the protected network are still able to log-in and view any video. A sister site, YouTube for Teachers, gives advice on how best to use the site for learning.

Among the content are videos produced by the likes of MIT and the popular TED talks.

Educational technology expert Iain Maclaren welcomed the move, but urged caution over video-based learning.

"Learning in a more profound sense also needs real 'interactive' engagement; students actually working through problems themselves, trying again and again to understand new ideas and getting feedback from teachers or more advanced learners," he said.

"So the use of video might help with motivation, be useful for revision and recap, but doesn't in itself necessarily lead to real, deep learning without other forms of activity, practice, engagement and communication."

Social schools

YouTube is not the only social network hoping gain ground in schools. Other sites, such as California-based Edmodo, are looking to provide popular functions of "open" social networks like Facebook but without the associated risks with using a completely public website.

Mr Maclaren said the changes will mean Google's site will no longer be regarded as a no-go area within some school networks.

"It has some positive aspects, particularly the removal of comments - and ads - which would have made so much of YouTube fall foul of many educational filters.

"Of course, more video material will be useful to students and teachers, particularly those using virtual learning environments where they can embed or 'mash-up' content into lessons."

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