I just got off the phone with a faculty member who was planning to have students use the Video Everywhere tool. If you don’t recall, that’s the simple tool embedded in the Content Editor in Blackboard that allows for easy recording of video from a webcam or embedding YouTube videos into the course. The tool is available for student use in tools like the Discussion Board, so this professor was going to have students record their presentations and grant access to their fellow students that way.
I’m certain the attempt will go off well, as all the Video Everywhere tool truly does is leverage the technology developed by YouTube, and YouTube just… works. That’s the beauty of it. However this professor did have one concern, that of the comfort level of students on posting a video to YouTube. Perhaps some will not want to have video of themselves out on the Internet for all the world to see.
Of course, it’s far more likely that students will already be posting content to YouTube, and that this will be just one more way they include content on their own channels. Still, that’s a very valid concern, and I felt I should discuss the “security” of videos created using that Video Everywhere tool.
By default, when you post a newly recorded video to your YouTube account using the Video Everywhere tool, it’s set to a status of “Unlisted”. (That’s as opposed to “Public” or “Private,” by the way.) An Unlisted video is one that is publicly visible, but not indexed in any search tools. So the only typical way in which somebody is going to see an Unlisted video is if they are provided with a link to it, or see it embedded in a page somewhere. It is, technically, possible that somebody might be randomly typing in URLs and run across it… more on that a bit later.
Now, why would Blackboard not just make the video Private instead? Because Private YouTube videos only allow specific, invited individuals to view them. I suppose it might be possible for a video integration tool to leverage YouTube’s invitation system, but there is a maximum limit of 50 users who could be invited to view such a video, which would certainly make such a tool less than useful for large courses. So instead the tool leverages that Unlisted status, allowing anybody to view the video provided they have the address. This, of course, is all well documented on the appropriate YouTube page.
So what should you tell a student who is nervous about somebody actually finding their video by randomly typing in addresses? For that, I’d turn to the cliché “needle in a haystack.” Actually, it’s worse than a needle hidden in a haystack, that would be a case of a needle hidden in a warehouse piled high with needles, with a constant stream of new needles being dumped onto the pile with each passing moment. Seriously, have you ever considered how much content there is on YouTube? I did wonder, so I tried to find out. The question is posed on the YouTube FAQ page, “How many videos are on YouTube?” They don’t actually answer that question, but instead say that “48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.”
I’m going to say that if a student is concerned that somebody will randomly URL-type their way to seeing that video, they should rest assured that it is very unlikely, to the point of being somewhat silly to worry about.
Oh, and if you had no idea what this whole “Video Everywhere” thing is, you may want to take a look at this video detailing how the tool works. And yes, this video is hosted on YouTube.