I Have Learned My YouTube Lesson

Image of YouTube TVLast week Sarah Allen inquired about a James Farmer video (knowing we have a rich collection of media of this Civil Rights leader) for her Culture, Context, and Composition class. The particular video she requested was Farmer’s debate with Malcolm X, and I had not come across it in my sojourns to the archives, so I recommended she ask Carolyn Parsons (the campus archivist) if she might know of anything and left it at that.

Yesterday, I met with Sarah for a different matter all together. She’s currently a Teaching and Learning Technology Fellow (for more on this read Gardner’s post here) and we scheduled a meeting to pimp out her WordPress blog (something I enjoy tremendously). We installed the OneClick Installer plugin on her personal WordPress blog so that she can harness the unbelievable power of this amazing publishing platform with one click (Fanboy to the bone 🙂 ). We used it to install Spam Karma, Subscribe to Comments, and then I recommended Viper’s Video Quicktags for easily including videos on her blog.

After that we tested the plugins, and when we came to Viper’s Quicktags we went over to YouTube and I recommended she search for a video related to something she was teaching. She searched for “James Farmer and Malcolm X” and lo and behold what shows up? That’s right, three videos featuring the debate between these two historical figures. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I recommend YouTube to Sarah a week earlier when she was searching for this resource? I spend most of my days there, it is the most amazing resource for everything (including teaching and learning) and I guess it’s a lesson even I have to learn again and again.

What was particularly cool this time around though, was that I think Sarah might have learned this lesson right along with me. For while she couldn’t show the debate in class yesterday because our discovery came two hours too late, it is now neatly embedded in her class blog for everyone to watch and comment on. Moreover, she seems to be experimenting with YouTube on her own blog with some other fascinating intellectual content.

It has been said before, and I’ll say it again here: YouTube is the most powerful example of how these small pieces can be so easily and effectively joined for a teaching and learning context. And what publishing platform loves YouTube more than WordPress?

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7 Responses to I Have Learned My YouTube Lesson

  1. Gardner says:

    “And what publishing platform loves YouTube more than WordPress?”

    A perfect rhetorical question. 🙂

    Congrats to you and Sarah on the finds. YouTube has been a vital part of my Freshman Seminar for similar reasons. Just yesterday a student compared the Allman Bros. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” to Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions,” and the latter had a killer live performance on YouTube that made exactly the point the student wanted to make about the Hammond organ in the Allman song.

    Truly, what Bryan Alexander calls the “delight in social archiving” has taken us to a new level of precision and discovery in our mediated society.

    In other words, sweet!

  2. jimgroom says:


    Without question your Rock/Soul/Progressive students have paved the way for others students by integrating YouTube into their academic blogs in such a thoughtful and powerful manner. That class is an example of the foremost power at demonstrating the wonder of all pieces small and loosely joined. In fact, I think that seminar–even more than your film classes which is saying a lot–demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt how essential these tools are for teaching in the 21st century. As always, your a maverick amongst innovators 🙂

    @Anyone reading this comment:
    Here’s a link to Gardner’s Rock/Soul/Progressive blog, follow it, you will not be disappointed: http://rocksoulprog.umwblogs.org/ (and keep in mind this is aggregating the posts from all the different students’ blogs, be sure to follow the “original post by” link to see more of the individual student’s “portfolios” for this class).

  3. Gardner says:

    Ah, I’m just a song-and-dance man. I’m teaching the RSP seminar next term to try to fix all or most of the mistakes I made this time. Really need to kick it all up to the next level.

    Thanks, Jim.

  4. Barbara says:


    Your discovery and our comments on the power of YouTube come on the heels of my discovery that my kids’ progressive-ish independent school bans YouTube from their network because they say that it will eat up too much bandwidth blah blah blah if made available. One wonders, is that true, and if so, can you change some settings or educate the users so it does not suck up all of the bandwidth? The same concerns emerged when Skype came on the academic scene. Soon cooler heads prevailed and figured out how users could utilize it without creating supernodes on their computers. Rather than banning the tools altogether, we should be figuring out how to nurture user accountability as a trade off for access.

    It is an extraordinary resource and one we should teach our students how to use wisely and well.

    But for the moment I am making sure that my 15 year old son sees the YouTube video you have playing in your side bar (yet another cool WP feature-ette) Thanks for finding and sharing that as well.

    Happy T’giving.


  5. Andy Rush says:

    Jim, have I ever told you I love YouTube? And you.

  6. Pingback: 益学会 > OLDaily 中文版 » Blog Archive » 2007å¹´11月20æ—¥ 阅读、职前教师、YouTube、内容聚合、Kindle

  7. jimgroom says:


    That story resonates because our campus network sometimes package shapes at sites like YouTube and Flickr, making it difficult on occasion to use these services effectively. Which immediately raises the question you suggest: these are tools of potentially great value and how can we develop a way to make sure we have access to them for teaching and learning? Moreover, the question of shaping traffic and user accountability is a huge issue that most networks don’t ever consider negotiating, rather they dictate the terms.

    It rasies some interesting questions about using bandwidth more effeciently, particualrly with P2P applications like bitTorrent. Often vilified because of it associations with sharing (god bless capitalism) this is one tool networks could use to manage bandwidth more effectively, while at the same time creating and managing a networked community of user accountability. Unfortunately, P2P is still a verboten for most campuses (save Harvard and their Tribler experiment which is fascinating).

    So, if we are going to running into a crisis of bandwidth by 2010, perhaps we should be managing our resources a bit more wisely (kinda sounds like the environmental issues in some strange way doesn’t it?). Point is that most campus networks are ludicrously inefficient and do more to keep users from useful content, sharing, and connections than foster any of these qualities. This is a real problem we have to get after if we are going to really embrace a new age of the web.

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