Tuesday, 27 October 2009

My New Favourite YouTube Tool

This is something that I spotted on Twitter a couple of days ago and have been playing with ever since. It's not actually a piece of software an app or even a site, it's a simple piece of code that you can use to change the URL of a YouTube video that transforms your page into a visual search tool that maps topics and relationships between videos.

So what it does, is it changes this dull YouTube page:

into this. A visual map of relayed videos. Each time you hover the mouse over one of the circles another set of related videos pop out and the you just click on a circle to play the video.

To appreciate the difference you really have to experience it, so here's the link to the original YouTube page with a video about Marrakesh
And now here's the 'warp'ed link with all the related videos which will start to show as you hover your mouse over them.

So how is it done?
Very simple, just replace the 'watch' in the URL to warp.swf

My Marrakesh video was at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-FUM74WsQo
So I change that to http://www.youtube.com/warp.swf?v=e-FUM74WsQo

This should work with any YouTube video.

So what's so great about this?
Well taking my original video on Marrakesh, it now enables my students to search for related video information around the same topic very quickly and simply.

As you move from video to video you create a kind of breadcrumb trail of dots which you can then click on to navigate back through the video you have watched.
You can also click on the videos to play them full screen in your browser (nice feature IWB users)

This is a great way to get students researching information around a topic you want to discuss in class or just creating and exploring conceptual associations. You could do this in class if you have data projector and try to get students to explain the connections, like six degrees of seperations. For example, how did I start with avideo of Marrakesh and end up with one of Shakira dancing?

I really enjoy this tool. It's also really handy for finding new music that's connected to the music you already like. Just 'warp' a music video from YouTube that you like and start exploring the connections.

This tool will though access all and any YouTube videos, so keep that in mind when you consider using it with your students, especially younger ones.

Hope you enjoy this.

Related links:

Nik Peachey


samccoy said...

I think this would be a marvelous tool. Do you think there might be any surprises for students using this? Does it gather from any of the YouTube videos? Will be interested in learning more about this tool and practicing using it.

Valéria said...

Hi Nik,
Yes really great tool, but when I had a go (first with your own link) and then I tested it with other apparently harmless You Tube videos, I was surprised to see how quickly I stumbled upon content which would not exactly be appropriate for some age ranges (to put it mildly...). So, perhaps teachers need to check things carefully before using it "live" in the classroom? Otherwise, really great. Valéria

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Valeria

Yes ALWAYS. It's the six degrees of seperation theory that's very true whatever site you use on the internet but especially with YouTube (probably a lot less than 6) but a lot of this depends on age and maturity of your students and of course culture of your students, but it is somethng we need to educate students about too.



Nik Peachey said...

Hi Sam

Yes it does pull in all and any YouTube video, so you have to be careful, but really the 'surprise' factor depends on the age and maturity of your students, so yes do take that into consideration.



Tom said...

It's cool, it's fun, it's visual, it's amazing... But is it actually going to lead to much language learning?

How long is any task using it going to take, and how much language learning is going to come out of that time...?

I'm not necessarily saying it wouldn't be worth it, just voicing questions I always ask myself about technology to be used in the classroom?

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Tom

Good questions.

Here's what I'd do using the link to my Moroccan video for example. I would set a short essay task to find out about Morocco. I would give my students specific areas that I would want them to find information about, such as major tourist attractions, art, culture, music etc. and give them the first warped link as a starting point.

So, this would involve them searching out, watching and listening to videos, making decissions about which ones to watch and what information to include. I would also ask them to include a bibliography of the videos they watched and where they found their information.

All this would develop their listening and writing skills, also they would be using some digital researching skills, be reformulating what they hear and evaluating the quality of the information they are getting.

I think all this would be really useful'language use'and help to develop some critical thinking skills.

I'd get the studenst to do this either as a homework task or in a media lab working in pairs.

They could present their finished work as normal document (Word or PDF) or they could present the information on a blog page or wiki with the videos they referenced embeded in as support.

Then they could watch and read each other's presentations in class or as a follow up homework task.

So, it's not just about having a flashy tool it's about how we get our students to use it.



Anonymous said...

This is a terrific tool, and one I'm going to enjoy playing with... but as always, I wonder what the long-range possibilities are.

Are we going to see students jumping around from video to video constantly? I bet we are. Hmm. A new way to view YouTube becomes a new distraction as well as a new tool.

Maybe we need a class in focus and concentration to become part of the new paradigm of schooling.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Andrew
I think video is always going to be quite a seductive medium. Personally I'd get students using this themselves at home, so if they are wasting time, it's their own time. So long as they get the assignment done I think it's up to the, how tey use it in their free time.