The Case for Google Video

Getting a service un-banned is much harder than getting it banned. Whether it is a book, a substance, or a website, once something has been declared undesirable, it is nearly impossible to see it as wholesome again. It has now something to be guarded against, something to be feared. It holds too much power, and so we must be protected from it. Google Video now falls into this category. Google Video poses too great a threat to our children to be viewed on school property, and therefor has been blocked by our district as well as many others. Like so many other decisions about new technology and resources, this one has been seen as merely one more filter must be put into place in order to ensure a safe educational environment for all. Unlike so many other decisions about new technology and resources, this one must be fought against and overturned. I am throwing down the gauntlet for logic and for progress, for authentic learning and for a flat world.

Because Google Video has already been banned, I must first take a look at the reasons (or potential reasons) why it was banned and address each issue individually.

  • Google Video has “R-Rated content” defined by 8e6 technologies (our filtering software) as “Services pertaining to anything that involves 18 and over material such as lingerie and swimsuits, revealing pictures. Sites that are adult in nature without being explicitly pornographic.”
    • Although I cannot refute the fact that there are a few Google videos that have these elements, I take exception that this filtering is a one size fits all solution for a question of content that many if not most students see every commercial break in prime-time. This solution means that a first grader needs the same protections as a 12th grader.
    • This also leads us to believe that there is no way to filter out certain content, rather than an entire resource. The mere fact that 8e6 can filter out the video portion of the Google domain leads me to believe that this is possible.
    • This solution asks us to accept that teachers are inept at verifying that students are working with valuable video resources, and that students are merely hungry for the smuttiest pictures they can find, which on Google video are pretty sparse.
  • Video resources, like Google Video, provide only augmentations for the curriculum and are not an integral part of the learning experience.
    • All of the research currently being done on learning styles comes back with the same conclusion: our students are growing more and more visually engaged. Although Google Video is not the only visual way of presenting materials, it may be the most dynamic. Google Video clusters content by user defined “tags” or categories. These tags provide students and teachers with multiple chances at learning the same thing. Not every student is going to learn in the same way, and many students need the contextual elements (background knowledge) that a collective history on film can provide.
    • Taking away Google Video and other services like it is not like taking away a student’s No. 2 pencil, but rather their colored pencils. Students can still write out their responses, but they cannot illustrate their words, conceptualizing them into proof of actual knowledge. Google Video is not just about consuming video content; it is about creating content. My students respond to videos on a regular basis, critiquing them or expanding their boundaries. They have made video content an integral part of their writing and blogging life. In fact, many of them do not see any boundaries between the act of inserting a picture, a video, or text into their writing. My students are living in a culture of remixed information. When they see something that should be questioned or drawn attention to, they need to be able to do it, at school. By making sure that they can only talk about this content at home, we are insuring irrelevancy in the lives of our students.
  • Not enough teachers and students are taking advantage of Google Video on a regular basis for this decision to affect many people.
    • True, Google Video has not reached a tipping point in our schools. Most teachers are not using it as a daily or even weekly classroom resource. This logic, however, is backward. The fact that most teachers are not using this resource does not mean that it should be taken away, it means that Google Video should be promoted and talked about, touted as an ingenious way to create engaged learners. We should be leading the charge to change people’s perceptions about what constitutes learning. We should not wait for the outside pressures of popular culture, and the glacial speed of institutional change. We should educate our students on the potential that video sharing provides for teaching, so that they may better make their own decisions about what content to consume.

Along with all of the reasons above, I think that there are still more that need to be brought up so that our school district can see the value of Google Video and other web services like it.

  • Google Video is free, and unlike any paid service, provides up to the minute coverage.
    • I do not believe that you get what you pay for. I believe you get what you share for and what you build for yourself. Because Google Video is built by its users and all of the video files are shared with entire world, the resource can remain free yet be essential. The fact that Google Video gets most of its content through non-traditional means (read non-institutional) it means that much of the time it contains content that can provide for a more varied viewpoint, a more in-depth look, or a more timely expose. For example, if you search for information on the London Bombings, the videos that pop up are not only excerpts from cable news channels but also first-hand accounts from people who were there with camcorders and cameraphones. This kind of citizen journalism is exactly what we are trying to teach our students to do. What better way of showing them its potential than by letting them use it in the classroom.
  • Google Video asks students to become content evaluators and validators.
    • Along with my previous example of the London Bombings, the search results also turn up a few “documentaries” on conspiracy theories for the government’s involvement in the bombings. These films are far from the mainstream, but they present a perfect opportunity to teach our students the value of content evaluation. Our modern students are presented with many conflicting reports of events, ideas, and relative values on a daily basis. It is our job as educators to show students how to judge the validity of each claim they hear. They should be responsible for researching the credibility of each story, rather than just accepting it because it is on the internet, or in a textbook.
  • Google Video is not about the content; it is about the potential.
    • The real value of Google Video is not the content that is already there. As I have said previously, it has not reached a tipping point for education yet. Google Video is valuable, instead, for its method of content distribution, its potential to change the way that we share information. If our students have the ability to create and upload their own investigations, if they have the ability to critique and evaluate the content of others, and if they have to potential to hover around certain topics of interest and forge organic learning communities, then there is no end to power that Google Video can give them.

To be sure, Google Video is not the only resource out there that our students would benefit from use at school, but I believe that getting it un-banned is a first step in creating the conversation about un-banning 21st century learning. So, I challenge everyone who feels the same way as I do about Google Video and other resources like it, to throw down their own reasons and examples for why Google Video is so valuable to the classroom. I would like to compile them all together and send them to 8e6 technologies and our District technology administrators to see if we can find a solution to this rather misunderstood problem. Link to this post, comment on it, or build upon it. I would hate to think that the power of all of our voices would go unheard when it is put in such inherently understandable terms.

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