YouTube and Vimeo for Education
An introduction to Vimeo and YouTube and an overview of the potential for using these web-based video services in teaching, learning and research.
YouTube and Vimeo are two key players in the rapidly developing realm of web-based video hosting and sharing sites that are expanding the reach of our teaching and learning and research. They offer a wealth of opportunities for learning, sharing and collaborating over developing education-based networks. In this article we will explore what these sites offer and examine what you need to consider if you’re using or thinking of using YouTube and/or Vimeo to support your teaching and learning and research strategies.
YouTube’s integration with Google, means that content uploaded to the site is featured in most web searches (unless user-controlled privacy settings prevent this) and is integrated with other Google tools (e.g. Google+ Hangouts). The service has been adopted as the de facto video sharing site for social networking, business, government and education throughout most of the developed world. Notable YouTube channels in the UK include the British monarchy, Parliament and the BBC, as well as many educational institutions, including The Open University, the University of Edinburgh and Cambridge University. There are also numerous education channels, include BFI Films, the Khan Academy, The Periodic Table of Videos and Jisc.
Most educational institutions recognise the value of YouTube to communicate corporate and promotional messages to staff, students and prospective students, and educators also recognise its potential in teaching and learning. Using video to promote pedagogic aims is not new, but the features provided by YouTube have excited many practitioners in education.
Because of its independent filmmaker background, its uncluttered interface and the lack of third-party advertising, Vimeo tends to be more widely used by those working in the creative industries than in other sectors. Vimeo generates income from the sale of premium services, Vimeo Plus and Vimeo Pro. The service is used by some educational institutions in the UK, primarily in promotional contexts, but also as a pedagogical tool.
Academics and students are not only taking advantage of the opportunities for sharing videos online, but also of the associated tools provided. Here are some examples of pedagogic uses of these services.
Create subject-specific playlists
Both services allow you to curate and manage videos within groups (Vimeo) or playlists (YouTube) and create supporting material based on content created by others as well as your own uploaded video.
In a recent project supported by C-SAP (the Higher Education Academy Subject Network for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) University of Durham academic, Dr Nick Pearce, created sharable playlists within YouTube to support teaching and learning on introductory courses for his anthropology and sociology students. The case study derived from this project reports that, “students interviewed felt that the use of videos was an effective way of supporting their learning”. It is further suggested that while video sharing sites provide possibilities for learners to be exposed to misleading content, if correctly managed, playlists can encourage deeper learning.
(See: Dr Pearce’s sociology playlist)
YouTube also provides the facility to add introductory videos to your playlist content which can be recorded direct from your webcam. Providing support in this way can assist the integration of playlists into your lessons.
The ‘flipped classroom’
Many institutions and academics record lectures, interviews, demonstrations, field trips and other educational activities and make them available to their students in order to support learning outside of class. Making and using this content is not viewed as a replacement for good quality classroom-based teaching and learning, rather they act as a springboard for enhanced interaction and meaningful learning during class.
This method, often referred to as the ‘flipped classroom’, moves traditional lesson activities (e.g. lectures or demonstrations) out of the classroom, allowing academics to spend more time with individual students, and providing greater opportunities for encouraging collaborative in-class activities. By viewing content in their own time students have more opportunities to reflect on their learning, rewind and review difficult areas, ask questions and develop deeper understandings.
Although there is some evidence that students want all lectures recorded and made available online, research also indicates that a large proportion do not watch online lectures in full. Students develop strategies for working through long-form lecture videos (e.g. using YouTube’s ‘image preview’ facility) to review PowerPoint slides, find the sections they are most interested in and review them as many times as they need to.
In YouTube you can also add text annotations to your videos which can include additional explanations, suggested activities, and links to other video content or websites.
Student-produced reflective videos
With the inclusion of video recording functions in most mobile devices recording video has been greatly simplified, and many students use these devices to record evidence of learning and to support critical reflection and analysis.
Although video production can develop learners’ transferable skills, their digital literacy, and enable them to reflect on their learning, editing video can add a level of complexity that could divert learners from the primary aim of a learning activity. When encouraging reflective video making it is important to consider the current aptitude of your students and let them know what is acceptable:
- Make your video and audio quality criteria explicit
- As a minimum speech must be audible and images visible
- Don't edit - just record activities in one ‘take’ and upload
- Check what has been shot - if it doesn't work the first time, try again
- If students are required to deliver edited video, allow time to learn how to use the software
- Ensure that learners are aware of legal issues related to uploading video
In addition to creating their own video, students can be encouraged to record their understanding in class. For example, The Upsidedown Academy promotes the use of video to take advantage of the ‘Protégé Effect’ whereby learners’ record and share their understanding with other learners.
See also our advice on using video in teaching and learning.
Assessment and feedback
Online video can be used to assess and provide feedback on students’ activity. Through third party online annotation platforms (e.g. Synote), you can add synchronised notes, bookmarks, tags, images and text captions to YouTube hosted content within a password protected environment.
Google+ Hangouts also support live feedback sessions which are recorded and presented within YouTube (e.g. “e-Learning and Digital Cultures” MOOC Hangout).
See also our advice on media enhanced submission and feedback.
When you subscribe to use Vimeo’s or YouTube’s services you enter into legal agreements with them and are obliged to comply with their respective terms and conditions. The use of both services have implications for e-Safety, Data Protection and Hosting Liability. While the scope of this article does not include legal advice, our sister service, Jisc Legal, provides support in this area to the UK HE, FE and Skills sector and publish a number of documents related to the use of Web 2.0 tools in education. Jisc Legal’s document, “Facing up to Facebook: A Guide for FE and HE” provides a clear account of the key legal considerations for using Web 2.0 tools which apply equally to YouTube and Vimeo as well as other social networking sites.
Using Vimeo and YouTube
From a users point of view, Vimeo and YouTube work in very similar ways. Although it is possible to search, view, share and (where permitted) download content on both sites without an account (or ‘channel’), if you want to upload your own video, curate content, or add comments you must subscribe to create and manage your own channel.
Both YouTube and Vimeo require subscribers to be over 13 years of age, to share information about themselves (a name, email account details, and a password.) and agree to their site-specific terms of service. When you subscribe to YouTube you also create a Google account (which includes gmail and Google+), and you can also select to allow the “Google +1” feature. This allows the company to use your account information and your +1 recommendations to create search results that reflect your interests.
Your ‘channel’ is the public facing element of your account. You can choose a name for your channel that is different from your own name and add information about the purpose of the channel, including links to external sites. To help you manage content, each channel can be subdivided into separate folders, referred to as ‘groups’ in Vimeo, and ‘playlists’ in YouTube.
Although managing content using groups or playlists can help you manage the videos you want to showcase on your channel, it is advisable to create new channels in order to manage your different interests. Unless you have a specific reason for doing so, it would be inappropriate to combine your family, holiday or hobby-related videos with those you use for teaching and learning and research. In the same way as it is common practice to maintain separate work, study and personal email accounts, it is advisable to do the same with your Vimeo or YouTube channels. For example you could create a channel for each course of study and subdivide this channel into playlists for each module - or create channels for each module and subdivide the content into module themes. You should consider how much video content you expect to use/create for each activity and keep in mind that each channel you create requires a new subscription using a different email account for each channel.
First, a word about what you can upload to YouTube and Vimeo. Essentially, you must own the copyright or have the right to upload any content to both services, including the informed consent of identifiable individuals featured in your content (Vimeo also have restrictions on commercial use).
You need to ensure that where content you wish to upload to YouTube or Vimeo includes third party material, either a copyright exception applies, such as Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which allows for fair dealing with a copyrighted work for criticism or review, or you have permission from the rightsholder(s) to upload the material.
YouTube reserves the right to decide whether the content you upload complies with its Terms and may remove the content and/or terminate your access at any time, without prior notice and at its sole discretion. If you have been notified of infringing activity more than twice, YouTube will terminate your access to the service. In addition, YouTube have arrangements with rightsholder(s) which allows them to choose, in advance what will happen when their content has been uploaded by someone on YouTube - which may include having the content blocked from YouTube.
Vimeo Terms of Servicealso put the onus on the user uploading content to obtain permission for any third party owned content.
If you upload recordings of identifiable people (e.g. students, lecturers, support staff) you are engaged processing their personal data, an activity governed in the UK by the Data Protection Act 1998. It is good practice to ensure that written consent is obtained from the individuals concerned using a signed consent form. The people you record also have Performance and Moral rights in the activity you have recorded (e.g. a lecture or demonstration) and you will need to ensure that they have waived these rights before you upload. Jisc Legal have published a very useful paper on recording lectures that includes a model consent form which you are free to adapt for your own use.
Both Vimeo and YouTube provide clear guidance on what you can upload to their sites and how they manage infringements. Our advice document "Copyright and Other Rights..." also provides a useful overview of the subject.
Both services support a variety of upload methods: as well as uploading from your browser you can also use mobile and desktop apps. In addition YouTube offer the facility to upload direct from webcam, run live Google+ Hangout’s, create image slideshows, or create new video’s by editing your own content or other users’ content that has been licensed for re-use through YouTube’s Creative Commons license. In addition to uploading via your browser, you can also manage your uploads to Vimeo via Dropbox.
Both services recommend that you upload your video files at the highest quality you can produce using H.264 and AAC-LC codecs. Once a file has finished uploading, it is re-encoded into different versions of varying quality in order to optimise playback performance over different internet connection speeds. YouTube’s re-encode service produce up to five versions of each file for playback (from low resolution 240p to high definition 1080p) and Vimeo provide two versions - standard and HD.
File size limits
By default YouTube limit the length of video’s you can upload to 15 minutes per video. However this can be extended to 30 minutes or longer on request. In contrast, Vimeo provide a weekly space quota of 500MB of which one video can be in HD quality, and 5GB and unlimited HD uploads per week for their subscription services.
While your file is being uploaded you can add a title and information about the content of your video. This ‘metadata’ describes our digital open educational resources so that it can be shared with other people and machines. By adding a relevant title, relevant tags, and a description that includes the names of those who appear, when and where it was it recorded, who it was recorded by, what module it relates to, and a précis of what happens, you will help people find your content.
As the main purpose of social video sites like YouTube and Vimeo is to encourage social interaction and generate increased traffic, your uploaded videos are viewable by anyone and are included in search results by default. For many purposes this is acceptable, but, if you are working on projects that require some privacy (e.g. group work, video recorded for assessment purposes) it may be useful to restrict access to some degree. Vimeo do this by allowing users to password-protect their content and YouTube allow you to either ‘unlist’ your video (i.e. it is not included in searches) or make it ‘private’ (only those you nominate can view).
These settings should be used with caution. Because anyone you provide a password or URL to can share it with anyone else, none of these ‘privacy’ setting guarantee absolute privacy - if you don’t want anyone to see something, don’t upload it.
Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a set of model permits that content creators can use to let others know how they can use their work. Applying a CC license to your work does not undermine your copyright, but lets users know in easy to understand, jargon-free language how they can copy, reuse, distribute or modify your work without having to obtain permission from you first.
Both Vimeo and YouTube have embraced CC licensing and allow you to select one of 6 CC licenses (Vimeo) or a single “attribution only” CC license (YouTube) - as an alternative to the default “all rights reserved” setting. You don’t have to apply a CC license to your work, but if you do it can make collaborative working a lot easier.
Many users of both services have opted to use CC licenses. Where content creators have applied a CC license, others are allowed to download and re-use this content (within the parameters of the license). Vimeo showcases CC licensed content in it’s Music Store via advanced search, and YouTube facilitates access to CC licensed content within its Editor. Both extend the possibilities for online, collaborative video production which has great potential for teaching and learning.
See also Jisc Briefing Paper on CC licensing.
A 'closed caption' is an on-screen transcript that is synchronised with the verbal content of your video. It’s called called 'closed' because the captions are normally hidden from view, but can be selected by the viewer. By adding 'closed captions' to your video you are not only making reasonable adjustments for learners with disabilities (as required in the UK by the Equality Act 2010) but also enabling your video to reach a wider audience. As well as improving search results and facilitating the viewing of your video without the need for headphones or speakers, closed captions on YouTube can be automatically translated into different languages, thereby making your video accessible to a worldwide audience of non-English speakers.
YouTube is currently experimenting with speech recognition software to provide automatic timing for English language video transcripts. The transcripts that result from from this process are rarely entirely accurate, however the caption file that is created can be easily edited. (See YouTube's advice on captioning).
Vimeo does not currently support closed captions, and advises that users upload subtitled versions of their videos.
Both Vimeo and YouTube provide easy ways of sharing your video via email, Twitter and Facebook. You can also embed your video into your VLE, blog, e-Portfolio or website. Care should be taken when sharing or embedding content that has been produced by others (e.g. when sharing a video you have added to a playlist or group) and where you are uncertain as to its provenance. Jisc Legal advise that, even when you have not uploaded the content yourself, embedding content uploaded by others that infringes copyright could expose you to legal challenge. So, it is advisable to invest some time checking the content to ensure that it does not infringe copyright, and providing accurate acknowledgements (see Jisc Legal's advice on embedding video).
You can access both services on your mobile device via their mobile sites (YouTube - m.youtube.com, Vimeo - www.vimeo.com/m/) and both services provides apps which enable playback on some devices. Whereas YouTube makes all videos available on mobile, within Vimeo only ‘Plus’ subscribers can create versions of their videos.
This guide provides an overview of the potential for using Vimeo and YouTube in teaching and learning and research. If you have questions, examples of good practice to share, or would like us to go into more detail on specific areas, please let us know using the comment box below, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Published in: Delivering and using