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TCEA Responds: Download YouTube Videos

by Miguel Guhlin
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Dear TCEA Responds:

Do you know of a simple and free way to download YouTube videos for G Suites Classroom? Students are blocked from YouTube. KeepVid, the solution I was using, is no longer available. Unblocking not an option.

Thanks, Vicki

Dear Vicki:

Want to save videos from YouTube and bypass district policies that block YouTube for staff and students? This blog entry will provide you with three approaches to view YouTube videos ad free. You will also see five tips for saving videos from YouTube.

Some school districts continue to block YouTube. They rely on technology to control and manage students. However, it’s important to engage students, parents, and staff in reciprocal dialogue about issues like poor content. This dialogue needs to go along the lines of, “Hey, we know there’s bad stuff on YouTube. There’s good stuff, too. Let’s build a culture of trust and openness that leads all involved to make better decisions.” If we don’t teach our students, who will?

Manage Your YouTube Settings

Why not show the following information to your G Suite administrator with a kind request to unblock YouTube videos?

As a G Suite administrator, you can help restrict which YouTube videos are viewable by signed-in G Suite users in your organization and on your network using YouTube’s Restricted Mode settings. The settings help restrict which videos are available to your users. Learn more

What’s that? You don’t think that’s going to work? Before we go straight to how you can get the videos you want, let’s explore some other options. Here are some ways to view YouTube videos without violating copyright, YouTube’s policies, and/or skirting fair use guidelines.

NOTE: These quick ways to view YouTube videos will NOT work in an environment where YouTube is blocked. All these “view YouTube” solutions do is shield the viewer from extraneous content (e.g. advertising). They do not make a copy of a YouTube video and then stream it from their own servers.

Quick Ways to View YouTube Videos

One of the objections people raise about YouTube involves the advertising. Often, inappropriate advertising is put next to wholesome, educational videos. The solutions below assist you in blocking that advertising. The idea is you can watch YouTube videos through a protected window that blocks out unwanted content. Let’s explore a few solutions using the TCEA Convention & Exposition 2019 teaser video. Watch it on YouTube. Let’s run a few of these solutions through the ringer.

“You get 20 free videos (youtube or vimeo). I purchased the $9.99/month plan for unlimited videos. Our campus blocks Youtube as well. Safeshare.tv allows you copy Youtube or Vimeo links, paste into their program and you then have a video that no longer is recognized as Youtube and therefore bypasses the school filter,” reports Debbie Shaw Turner

Approach #1 – SafeShare.tv

This option provides an “uncluttered” way of looking at YouTube. First, paste your YouTube link into the box shown above. Then, connect your G Suites for Education, Gmail, or Facebook account to SafeShare. This will create an account for you. Once you go through the authentication process, you will see a screen like the one below.

The process was painless. With the free account, you can create up to twenty safeviews, two playlists, watch unlimited safeviews, and adjust your video’s range. If that’s not enough (how could it really work in a flipped classroom?), you can upgrade to Premium. The paid version offers unlimited everything, including link customization and shortening. And educators and students get a 50% discount off the regular $99.99/year Premium price. With the free version, you have to delete viewed videos and then create more to get around the limits.

Approach #2 – ViewPure

Like SafeShare, ViewPure enables you to “watch YouTube videos without comments or other distractions.” Unlike SafeShare, ViewPure does not require you to create an account. You only need an account if you want to get a custom web address (URL), password protect the video, enter start time/end time, and/or add the video to a playlist.

Approach #3 – Video Adblocker for YouTube Extension (Chrome)

Another approach you can take it to rely on a Chrome browser extension. Video Adblocker for YouTube blocks all ads on YouTube, “including roll video ads, text and banner ads.” This is a slightly different solution than SafeShare and ViewPure in that it does not rely on website processing of YouTube videos. Instead, it allows you to watch YouTube videos on site, blocking all ads. Compare the two videos below, the first without Video Adblocker enabled, the second with.

Video #1: Lindsey Stirling’s RoundTable Rival without Video Ad Blocker Extension

Wait, this does not look like Lindsey Stirling…more like Ray Liotta in an ad.

Video #2: Lindsey Stirling’s RoundTable Rival with Video Ad Blocker

Not one of these approaches will make it possible for your students to view YouTube if it is blocked at the district level. So what else can you do?

Getting (a.k.a. “Downloading”) YouTube Videos

Your only recourse with blocked YouTube videos involves violating YouTube’s policy. TechAdvisor has a whole article dedicated to the topic. They count the ways you are violating YouTube’s policy. Need a summary? You’re not supposed to download or save videos from YouTube. Period.

Ok, now that the point is clear, here are some ways to temporarily save videos off of YouTube so that you can share the useful content with your students. With unlimited storage space in Drive for G Suites for Education users, you can copy saved videos in MP4 or webM format. Here’s a short tutorial. Or, in lieu of cloud storage, save it to a USB flash drive and then move the video file to your school computer.

Save Videos Tip #1 – Torch Browser

This approach is elaborated at length in the Simple Video Tricks blog entry. You can get the Chromium browser (works just like Chrome) Torch. This free browser has built-in Media Grabber (it’s a button on the tool bar). You just click that button. In a moment, the YouTube video you are looking at saves the video in MP4 format to your computer. MP4 video format is a standard type of video file, so you should be able to play the video with built-in video players on Windows, Mac, Chrome, or GNU/Linux computers.

Save Videos Tip #2 – Firefox Video DownloadHelper

Another go-to is Firefox’s add-on Video DownloadHelper. This add-on requires using the Firefox browser. You can save YouTube videos in various formats. You can also save videos from “DailyMotion, Facebook, Periscope, Vimeo, Twitch, Liveleak, Vine, UStream, Fox, Bloomberg, RAI, France 2-3, Break, Metacafe,” among many others. Since it works as a Firefox add-on, you can use this on Windows and Mac computers alike.

Save Videos Tip #3 – SaveFrom.net

Try using SaveFrom.net to save YouTube videos. To take advantage of it, simply add “ss” without quotes in front of the “y” in the YouTube video link. Here’s how it will look:

Normal YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjWk5dbCI5I

SaveFrom YouTube URL: https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=TjWk5dbCI5I

Note the highlighted ss in front of the “y” in the link. Take a moment to click the links to see the difference.

Save Videos Tip #4 – ClipConverter.cc

This solution, ClipConverter.cc, bills itself as “a free online media conversion application, which allows you to reocord, convert and download nearly any audio or video URL to common formats. Currently supported services: YouTube (HD, 720p, 1080p, 4K), Vimeo, Facebook Video and many more.” It also features a browser add-on that works with Firefox, Chrome, and/or Safari.

Disclaimer: No lambs or sheep were injured or kidnapped in violation of YouTube’s terms of service. Whew, I had to share that in light of the next tip.

Save Videos Tip #5 – ATube.me

For Windows users, you can use aTube Catcher. The program is free and makes it easy to save YouTube video playlists (like fifty videos or more in a playlist). For example, if you wanted to grab all the top Lamb Chop’s Play Along songs, you would paste the link to the playlist into ATube Catcher. Below is what that process looks like.

Never heard of Lamb Chop’s Play Along television show? Be sure to listen to this unforgettable song.

TCEA Responds: Get YouTube Videos

Vicki, as Uncle Ben Parker allegedly (Voltaire said it first) said to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now that you know how to get videos from YouTube and save them as MP4 video or MP3 video format, what will you do?

Charity Evans suggests these two approaches:

  • Screencast the video wanted. Add teacher commentary (fair use for educational purpose evades copyright issue). Host on Google Drive.
  • Screencast yourself instead of downloading someone else’s content. “Make your own personalized videos for your kiddos and share them with colleagues via Drive.”

Charity’s suggestions have merit. I like Screencastify as a screencasting tool. You can find a few more screencasting tools in this blog entry, Flipped Learning Tools.


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