Well, I can say I have wasted a huge amount of time wandering around the You Tube site viewing things I wasn't really looking for but it was there and I ended up looking at it. It was very easy to become side tracked and begin watching stuff that I normally wouldn't spend time watching. Jason in his blog Unsought Input identifies these three uses for You Tube
1. Making it incredibly easy for users to contribute videos
This is true, all one has to do is create a user account (free) and upload till their desire to share is content
2. Making a central location to find video clips, with lots of good ways to find them (browsing, searching)
Again true, most people I know, who are looking for something go to you tube and search and... voila... maybe a few similar things pop up but if the video you are looking for is there you will find. When I was looking for the hippo commercial that I posted (which also was extremely easy to do) all I searched for was house hippopotamus commercial and I was directed to about 10 different copies of it. Downloading videos is also very easy... click of a button and there we go again.
For my marketing course, I find this site helpful for finding commercials that I want my class to watch as good examples of advertising, to look at the different tools that advertisers to use and for students to look at how advertisements change as products move through the product life cycle."
3. Giving the Internet a way to link to videos, and giving television clips a way to exist on the Internet.
While deciphering the wording of his third point took me awhile, I do see what he means. Many people today don't have time to watch reams of television, or to fast forward through what they taped to get to the pieces they want. You Tube and other sites allow for this. Sparknotes may give the gist of a novel but You Tube allows this for television.
You Tube also allows for the everyday person to get what they want to share out there for the public at large. Students at my school have made postings of themselves animation they ahve created, playing in bands, singing, taking part in the sports they are involved in, acting and the list goes on. These are the positive things that they have done. On the negative side, fights have been recorded and posted.
I appreciate the fact that YouTube has a policy regarding what they consider appropriate but all one needs to do is have something out there for a very short period and it can be past on and distributed before somebody clicks the link indicating that the content is not appropriate.
As a teacher looking for things to support my students learning I found Teacher Tube more useful. It was as easy to use and the content that came up seemed more useful in general than what I mostly found on YouTube.
Before going to use any of these sites I think as Friessen points out (in A practical guide to contemporary literacy) it is important to know what one is looking for and if it is appropriate to the assignment otherwise " can mean a lot of wasted tme for students who are looking in the wrong places for information." Having students in my marketing class look for commercials to analyze YouTube has a lot of use. For students who ae looking for information on how the debit/credit system works in accounting... YouTube is not the best fit. Subject, topic and purpose I think are all important things to consider before going to look for video clips. I did find YouTube good for finding
Regardless of what is going on I think it is important to also do as Friesen suggests which is provide "structure and guidance". With the abundance of informaton available online through sites like YouTube I think it is important that exists. Even as I wrote this and looked at the site to see what I could see/find. I got sidetracked more than once...
The one thing I do wonder is how much multiple students ( I think about at our school where there are over 250 computers to be accessed), looking at videos/downloading, etc would effect the speed of the school's network. I already know that during blocks (when yearbook/graphic/video production/32 studio are in use the network gets bogged down.