I visited with a K-3 librarian today who recently received a cart of iPads at her school for teachers to check out and use with students. She was unsure how to share videos the students create and save to their iPad camera rolls, however, with apps like iMovie, Puppet Pals, and Sock Puppets. In this post I’ll summarize my recommendations to her, which involve setting up a special Gmail account “for the cart” as well as a YouTube channel teachers and students can publish to with the free YouTube Capture app.
Setup a Gmail Account for the iPad Cart
In shared iPad cart situations, it’s generally best for students and teachers to NOT put their own email account credentials onto the iPads. When email credentials are saved in the iPad settings, it’s easy to forget to delete them after someone is finished using the iPad. From a security standpoint, teachers should NEVER give students direct access to an iPad or other computer which has their own email credentials saved / cached. One solution to this quandary, which has worked well in schools where I’ve helped coach teachers with technology integration techniques, is to ask the IT department to setup a special / unique Gmail account for the entire cart.
Once that Gmail account has been created, a librarian or teacher (or a team with parent volunteer help!) needs to enter and save the email credentials on EACH iPad in the cart. Do NOT directly provide the account password to students. The password can be saved in the iPad settings so a teacher doesn’t need to enter it each time students want to email media OUT from the iPad.
This email account serves two primary purposes for the cart. First, It permits students to email media (like photos) OUT from the iPad, to websites like a Blogger site used for 5 Photo Story projects. (See examples on 5photostories.blogspot.com.) Since the account will be used only to SEND email from the iPad and NOT check the account, some configuration changes are needed so students won’t be able to check any incoming email on the iPads. For those steps, refer to Tony Vincent’s excellent December 2011 post, “How to Set Up Gmail for School iPads and iPods.” Tony explains how to setup a custom Gmail filter so all incoming mail is deleted right away. The result is that the “iPad cart email account” is just a SENDING email account.
The one addition I’d make to Tony’s instructions involves the “signature file” for your iPads. In the mail account settings for the signature, instead of leaving it as the default “Sent from my iPad” I would change it to include the number of the iPad in your cart. For example, if you’re configuring iPad #6 in your cart, change the signature to read “Sent from iPad 6.” Of course students can delete or change this at the time they send an email, but many will not and this will provide some accountability if a message is sent that you need to research / figure out who sent it.
Setup a YouTube Channel for the iPad Cart
The second primary role your iPad Cart Gmail account can serve is to provide a YouTube Channel which can act as a “publishing sandbox” for the videos students will create using the iPads when they’re checked out out to them. If your school district is already using Google Apps for Education, YouTube is one of the services your network administrator / IT department can “turn on” for teacher and student use. Many schools still have YouTube blocked for teachers as well as for students. There are many different ways to address the issues raised by YouTube access, from objectionable content to bandwidth. On the content site, some schools are opting to use Google’s free “YouTube for Schools” Program. This provides student access to curated, educationally appropriate YouTube videos and more complete access for teachers. This is a good baseline for ALL schools. Blocking YouTube entirely for students today is analogous to some school districts a few years ago which blocked all access to Google.com. YouTube includes fantastic educational content which students MUST be allowed to access. In addition, teachers (at a minimum) should be allowed to publish video content to YouTube from the school network. I recognize this isn’t “reality” in many schools today, but these are things we need to keep advocating for with administrators as well as board members. Like access to the Internet more generally, access to YouTube for teachers and at LEAST curated YouTube access for students today is a vital literacy issue. Blocking that access entirely is tantamount to stopping all student access to the library. It shouldn’t happen and we should advocate in appropriate ways to change policies if they overblock the web in schools, including YouTube.
Refer to this official Google support tutorial for instructions about setting up your YouTube channel.
Once your channel is setup, download and install the free YouTube Capture app on all the iPads on your cart. You or other teacher/parent helpers will need to individually login the apps to the shared cart’s YouTube account, using the Gmail address and password. Do this by clicking the “settings gear” icon in the lower left corner after launching the app. Once the login credentials have been saved, teachers or students will be able to directly upload saved videos from the iPad’s camera roll to the shared YouTube channel.
Suggestions and Guidelines for Teacher and Student Use
Ideally, teachers should always keep a record of what students checked out and used which iPads during a class period. That way if there is a question later regarding damage to an iPad or content created / published from a specific iPad, the responsible students can be more readily identified.
Use the language “video sandbox” to describe the shared YouTube channel you’ve created and will be sharing access to with teachers and students.
This YouTube channel is not designed to the primary video showcase site of your school or library. Rather, it’s a place to publish ALL KINDS of student work so it can be linked and embedded on other websites as needed/desired. What you do NOT want is a situation where a teacher or student says something like, “Well, this video isn’t an example of our best work, so we don’t want to publish it online.” Certainly there are times and contexts where work shouldn’t be shared publicly online. A large percentage of student work can and should be posted online, however, in an open format others can access to view.
Our tendency in many schools today, when it comes to digital sharing, is to “opt for private.” By privately sharing, we rob most of the power of digital publishing from the assignment and activity. Without question, both parent and student permission forms to share student work as well as photos and names MUST be signed first. Examples from several school districts are available. Once that permission is secured, students should be encouraged to share the majority of their digital work online so it can become part of their digital portfolios.
Here are two paragraphs included in my eBook, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Part 1,” which I tweeted recently and would love for every teacher to copy and adapt as appropriate. We need to help coach teachers how to respond to questions like “Why are you using YouTube with my child?” and even role-play these kinds of responses. Here’s my suggested script:
Our school takes Internet safety and protecting student privacy very seriously, and as a teacher I do too. Parents and students have the choice of whether or not to post student work publicly online, but I strongly encourage it. Our national and local academic standards emphasize digital literacy, which includes students publishing and sharing their work online in a variety of multimedia formats. Our students have many choices about how they share their work online, and many of the digital projects we do don’t include student photographs or student faces in videos.
In addition to the requirements for students to learn digital literacy by actively practicing it online, there are many benefits to publishing student work online. One of the biggest is having an authentic audience. I want my students to share their work with a bigger audience than me, their teacher, because I know when they do they often do better work. It can be motivating for students to receive feedback and suggestions online not only from student peers, but also from parents, grand“grandparents, or other people living in different countries. I assure you we take Internet safety very seriously, and one of the ways we do that is by practicing safe ways to interact with others online. We never share our email addresses, phone numbers, or other personal numbers like that online with others. We talk about what is appropriate and not appropriate to post about online and talk with strangers about online, and I’m confident the digital publishing we do in our class is helping students learn to develop responsible digital citizenship skills
Be aware that open commenting is the DEFAULT setting for all YouTube videos. To err on the conservative side, teachers using the iPad cart YouTube channel may want to login and periodically “bulk edit” videos to change them to MODERATED commenting. This means comments others leave on your videos won’t show up until a teacher / account administrator approves them. It’s a good idea to embed YouTube videos on classroom blogs or other websites, where comments can be moderated by teachers. There is currently no way to set YouTube comment moderation ON by default, it has to be done after a video is uploaded. Thankfully (and this changed in the last six months) it IS possible to bulk-edit video settings including comment moderation.
Specifically train both teachers and students in a suggested syntax to use when uploading videos to a shared YouTube account. For example, the homeroom teacher’s last name might be used at the start or end of the title, along with a student’s first name or group name in the title. Tags can also be used to label videos. Without good titles and tags, uploaded videos can become “mystery media” artifacts with undefined authorship. Unfortunately, uploaded media which isn’t labeled properly can be “lost” in a channel filled with other videos, since it can’t be readily located using search keywords. This is the process of adding meta-information to digital content, and while it can certainly be OVER-done with too many requirements, it’s a mistake to under-emphasize it’s importance as well.
Hopefully these suggestions and tips are helpful to you. For a great video discussing the value and benefits of using a YouTube channel with students, see Ginger Gregory’s video with her students from last May, “Developing Communication Skills With YouTube & iPad Videos.” It’s one of my all-time favorite “quick edit videos” created with an iPad!
I’ll be leading a workshop in Yukon, Oklahoma next Wednesday on “Quick Edit Videography with iPads and iMovie” for Storychasers. Registration is available via EventBrite, and more information is available about iPad digital storytelling workshops by Storychasers. Also check out the curriculum and resources for iPad Media Camp, which addresses quick-edit videography in day 2.