YouTube: Friend or Foe?

Tonight, teacher Jaime Richards spoke before Fremont school board members, asking them to change a district policy that prohibits educators from using YouTube in the classroom. Richards said teachers should be trusted to use their judgment as to what materials are appropriate for students. I haven’t had a chance to confirm that this is the district’s policy or to get the district’s position, but Jaime raises an interesting point if it’s true:

Should teachers be allowed to show YouTube videos as part of their curriculum? Anyone know what the policy is in other districts?

Linh Tat


  1. What’s so important about YouTube as a source of media ? If the concern is for the content – YouTube (despite its notoriety) is hardly the end-all cure-all for Internet video – – – – most of what’s found therein can be readily located elsewhere.

    Why are restrictions on access to *this* particular file-sharing site of any significance to a professional educator ? My personal experience is that content found in YouTube will be found in dozens of other URL’s pretty readily and with minimal effort.

    That said, corporate network operators all over “blacklist” sites like YouTube in an attempt to reduce access to potential pornographic or offensive material and any legal advisor would recommend doing so as a reasonable action aimed at reducing distribution of offensive material on the corporate network (which can be a contributing factor in sexual harassment litigation).

  2. YouTube videos that are hosted by YouTube are often found on other sites, but cannot be viewed, as they are linked back to YouTube and blocked by the FUSD gatekeeper software. There are many video and other sites that are blocked by the district server, and cannot be accessed in the classroom.

  3. Tracy is correct. That said, I stand by my point that legitimate material can very frequently be found hosted in other locations. And a modicum of effort may be required to locate same.

    For example – Science Channel content is serviced by YouTube AND the Science Channel website.

    See for example –




    There are, of course, other sites that do as Tracy suggests – and they simply are a link to YouTube and those sites will carry the YouTube logo.

    If there are legitimate sites that are blocked by your network administrator, they are “blacklisted” usually because the sites are “mixed content” – e.g., legit and offensive content exist. If you identify a site that is important to your work as an instructor, I’d encourage you to work with the district administrator and identify “legitimate” sites that are useful. These same sites can then be “whitelisted” and made accessible for your use.

    As someone who works with these same concepts and tools in the private sector I find YouTube an unacceptable risk to redistribute on my corporate network.

    Sadly, the potential for harrassment litigation makes the trade-off between the infrequently available useful information and the less frequently available “good stuff” – – – – an easy choice.

  4. Teachers are already allowed to use their discretion when viewing movies in the classroom or when choosing which books to use. They weren’t showing us pornography or reading us smut then. Why not you tube now?

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