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Using YouTube Videos for Learner Engagement

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Using YouTube Videos for Learner Engagement

Will This Online Video Thing Ever Catch On?

In July of last year YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that 400 hours of Video were being uploaded to the site every minute.  Digital video experts at Tubular Insights predicted that, based on historical growth patterns, YouTube would upload 500 hours per minute this fall.   YouTube reports that, on mobile devices alone, the video service reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.  With seemingly unlimited content, over a billion users, and mind boggling viewer statistics, this online video thing might have legs.
This massive treasure trove is like a cave of wonders beckoning us in.  Can we somehow use YouTube to make learning content as compelling as cat videos?  Probably, but like Aladdin, we really should ask ourselves whether we can or should just help ourselves to the riches of YouTube. Can we use LMS YouTube video content in our commercial or private online training efforts? Does YouTube have a place in your Learning Management System?  The answer, as you might suspect is yes… and no. 

...they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something. 
- Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

In this article, we’ll explore both the technical aspects of using streaming video in the Accord LMS as well as intellectual property considerations.  You’ll see that it is possible to incorporate online video Learning Elements that are interesting and engaging while still respecting the creator’s rights.

IP Considerations

A Quick Disclaimer

This post discusses the use of third party intellectual property.  We at Accord are hawks on intellectual property rights.  We genuinely believe that individuals and organizations should have complete control over the use of their original content.  It’s your responsibility to confirm your legal right to use any content as described in this article. Finally, I’m not a lawyer and nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice.  We’ll start off with a technical discussion of intellectual property considerations.  Stick with me though.  I’ll be sharing some practical ideas and you never know… I might include a cat video.

What is Intellectual Property?

Technically, Intellectual Property (IP) is any creation of the mind.  That’s a pretty broad category, but if you’ve ever had an idea and then developed it you have IP.  It could be a poem, a song, a manuscript of invention.  So how does that apply to using other people’s videos in your online training programs?
According to Wikipedia, the Copyright Law of the United States tries to encourage the creation of art and culture by rewarding authors and artists with a set of exclusive rights. Copyright law grants authors and artists the exclusive right to make and sell copies of their works, the right to create derivative works, and the right to perform or display their works publicly.
You own and have certain rights to control the use of the video that you uploaded to YouTube from your daughter’s first birthday.  At the same time, you are limited in how you should use videos posted by any of the other billion+ YouTube users.
If you plan to use other people’s videos in your online learning management system programs, you must be sure that such use is permitted by the owner of the Intellectual Property.

Video Licenses:  Standard YouTube vs. Creative Commons

Content uploaded to YouTube by the original creator remains the property of that creator.    YouTube simplifies the management of the creator’s rights with two different licenses that each imply different acceptable use cases.
The Standard YouTube License is pretty limited.  It retains all rights for the creator.  In other words, you can’t alter the content, include it in a derivative work, or really do anything but watch the content. It can’t be in a commercial project either. Fortunately, watching the content is often all we really want to do.
Creative Commons is a license framework which allows the IP owner to easily grant specific rights to use their video.  Creative Commons licensed content on YouTube generally allows you to reuse the content with attribution.  This is the broadest CC license.  You can use the material, even in commercial products, so long as you give credit to the original creator.  If you use YouTube’s video editor to include YouTube CC licensed videos within your video YouTube automatically handles the attribution.

Creative Commons licenses may offer the following restrictions:
Attribution (BY):  
This means that you need to provide credit to the original creator.  That’s fair.
Share-Alike (SA):  
You must distribute your content under the same license as the content that you've used
Non-Commercial (NC):  
You can’t distribute this content in any commercial product.
Non-Derivative (ND):  
No derivative works are allowed based on this content.

For more information on Creative Commons Licenses, review Wikipedia,  visit https://creativecommons.org or watch this video.

So what did all that mean?

Basically, YouTube content falls into one of two categories. When you click the publication window under an LMS YouTube video it will show you what type of license is attached to that video. If it says Standard YouTube license, then you can link to the content.  If the content owner has enabled YouTube’s embed feature you’re generally safe to place an embedded version of the content on your web page or other HTML content as is but you do not have the right to edit it.
On the other hand if the license reads “Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)” you have considerable freedom to use or edit the video in any fashion that you’d like, including just slicing out a section so long as you give credit to the owner. Some easy ways to edit and splice in CC videos are discussed later in this article.

Thoughts from a YouTube Content Creator

YouTube celebrity Rich Ferguson has some thoughts on IP rights.  One single day last month his channel had a cumulative 78 years of viewing.  With a quarter of a billion views, more than 1.5 million subscribers, and around 11,000 more coming on each day, Rich has seen it all. “People will sometimes steal content, put it in a video, and then license it as Creative Commons”, said Rich.  “It’s important to be sure that the person licensing the content actually owns the content.”
Rich licenses all his content with the YouTube standard license.  He encourages links and embeds.  “Embeds help the creator.  They’re views.”  Rich gets contacted daily for requests to use his content in other projects.  Sometimes he says yes with certain restrictions and other times he says no.  “I shot a beautiful 4-minute video of the Central California Coast.  At the end of the video, my wife walks on and says she’d love to be your realtor.  I can’t tell you how many times people have asked to use my entire video but edit out my wife.  No way.”
Illustrative of the concept: Things aren't always what they seem.

YouTube content creators are real people.   You are generally free to link or embed YouTube videos in web content including your non-commercial online courses.  YouTube’s Creative Commons license allows you to use the video in your own productions, including commercial projects, so long as you provide attribution by crediting the original source.  If you aren’t sure if your desired use is appropriate, you can always contact the YouTube user through their YouTube channel and ask them. 

Two Ways to Utilize YouTube Videos for Your LMS

Wouldn’t it be cool to create a library of these videos and make them available to targeted audience among your learners?  The concept is called curated content.  The Accord LMS supports publishing curated Learning Elements to specific learners and teams.

Individualized training is a key part of the Accord philosophy. Using Learning Roles, you can assign folders containing Learning Elements, LMS YouTube videos in this case, to the learners or teams who will benefit from them. In fact, any new content added to the folders will be automatically shared with the assigned learners. This feature makes it extremely easy to distribute new curated content to the right  learners.
For example, a software company could create one resource library of freely available videos to introduce their junior developers to the concepts of Agile Development.  That library would be hidden from the sales team who have their own collection of Zig Ziglar links or by the HR department who has a collection of employee motivational videos.
In case there are commercials, you may wonder if there is a way to block them.  There really isn’t.  It’s important to remember that these videos are often monitized for their creators with commercials.  Generally, the commercials are short and not disruptive.

#1 – Utilize in a Course

With the ability to embed videos, you can include them as discrete Learning Elements in your Accord LMS courses.  One useful approach is to include brief YouTube tutorials to supplement your own SCORM courses. LMS YouTube videos can be very helpful explaining generic concepts. For example, let’s assume that I’m the CFO for a manufacturing company.  Each year I supply my departmental managers with a budget spreadsheet.  It’s important to me that new team leaders are introduced to the concepts of Managerial Accounting and the process of calculating markups and margins before they work on their budget numbers.  To prepare my managers, I’ve created a course that includes two videos embedded into HTML pages.  I’ve added the spreadsheet itself to the course so that they can download it and begin working with it right away.  Finally, I’ve uploaded a SCORM course that includes a presentation that explains our company’s specific budgetary process.  Boom!  Four Learning Elements that kick off our annual budget process.  By the way, both YouTube videos are Creative Commons (BY) license content, so I could have edited them.  Both videos have attribution in the video and in the LE Description.

#2 – Utilize as a Resource  

Has your boss ever sent a link to a video that they thought you should see?  It usually comes via email.  Maybe it goes to the whole department.  Perhaps it inspires the troops, illustrates an important concept, or is just uniquely appreciated by the team.  Then it’s often deleted or lost in your inbox history.
LEs shared as Resources in the Accord LMS have several unique aspects that are ideal for organizing useful or suggested content:
  • Resources are optional
  • Resource utilization is not tracked and does not impact a Learner’s transcript
  • Resource utilization does not count towards your Active Learner license limit.

This means you could configure a Learner module to show only Resources and allow thousands of users to access it without affecting license limit or e-learning system cost.

Embedding Video in the Accord LMS

In Practice, embedding YouTube video content in the Accord LMS is remarkably easy.  First create a new Learning Element.  Select URL/Page/File for the Element Source.  Choose URL for the link type.
Open the Embed text box on YouTube.  To do this, choose Embed from the share menu. Don’t copy the entire embed code, simply copy the src location as highlighted below.

Paste the source URL into the Location field for your Learning Element.  Choose a Learning Element Type with a modal window and Update. Now you’ll be able to utilize the video as a Resource or tracked Learning Element. 

There are many optional parameters that can be appended to the video URL/Location that control the presentation such as autoplay and progress bar color. In the embedded 'Human Chair Prank' video above we use showinfo=0 (to hide the video's title) and rel=0 (to avoid showing related videos): https://www.youtube.com/embed/oKGerjB-d1w?showinfo=0&rel=0

Using Creative Commons Content in your Original Productions

YouTube Creative Commons content can be a great resource for adding supplemental material to your original online courses. CC content also allows you to use B Roll video from YouTube.  B Roll content is supplemental footage which often adds mood or atmosphere to your project.  For example, perhaps you’re creating a training video on stress management.  You’d like to have some pretty clouds or maybe some gentle surf to work into your content.  You can buy these kinds of assets, but you can also get them for free on YouTube and other Creative Commons sites. 
It’s beyond the scope of this post to cover video editing.  You might want to check out TechSmith’s Camtasia if you’re new to video editing.  The software includes screen casting, video editing, quiz building, and SCORM publishing tools. 
YouTube also provides a basic but free editing tool. It includes a large music and sound effects library, and manages the CC attribution for you.   You can learn more about YouTube’s free tool in this video tutorial.


Final Thoughts

YouTube offers a rich trove of educational content as well as creative content that can add interest to your own educational LMS content. Understanding the licensing options guides where you can use free 3rd party content to augment your own original training.  YouTube is not the only source of open educational resources.  If the idea of shared educational content appeals to you, this video explores the concepts in greater depth.
The Accord LMS facilitates your use of YouTube content through its individualized learning model and Learning Element based content assembly.  The use of curated resource libraries that are targeted to specific groups of learners allows you to distribute and manage access to helpful resources.  The Accord LMS also offers modular course assembly which makes it easy to use YouTube videos as one part of a blended online learning experience.


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