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A Comprehensive Guide to YouTube

Introduction

YouTube is a video sharing platform. Started by a few employees of PayPal in 2005, Google purchased the site in 2006 for US$1.65 billion. For a complete history, watch this video documenting the impact that platform has had:

The sort of content that can be found on YouTube includes TV shows clips, music videos, documentaries, audio recordings, trailers and vlogging. With a blur between amateur and professional content, the quality can differ drastically from one video to the next.

Searching YouTube

The most common use of YouTube is watching content. This is recognised by the site, for when users first enter, they are greeted with an array of recommendations. If there is no history to base suggestions upon or account signed in, then the summary provided is of generic trending content and live recommendations.

To find specific content, there is a search bar at the top of the screen. The usual search terms associated with Chrome apply. After an initial search, there is a filter button which allows users to drill down further. This includes such parameters as date, type, duration, features and means of sorting. Filtering provides a way of search content via types, such as channels and playlists.

Beyond this, users can search via Google and click on the video tab. This will provide content across the web. To restrict this to YouTube, preface the search with “site:youtube.com”. For further insight into discovering content, YouTube has a channel collecting together various search stories.

Playing Video

Once users have found content, there are a number of ways to playback video. The obvious answer is within the browser. One catch with the browser is the distraction littered around the video, whether it be comments, information and related content. An answer to this is to play in fullscreen. This can be done by clicking the button at the bottom right of the viewing screen. Another way of doing this is to replace the ‘watch?v=’ in the URL with ‘embed’. Just as replacing ‘/edit’ with ‘/present’ in Slides will open the presentation in full screen mode, so to will adding embed to the URL in YouTube. This approach can be useful when sharing links with students.

There are a number of other third party applications which do similar things too. They often remove distractions on the screen while viewing, including Watchkins, View Pure and Quitetube. Richard Byrne has unpacked these in more detail. If viewing through the Chrome Browser, there are also a number of extensions to support viewing. These include Distraction Free YouTube and Turn Off the Lights.

In addition to avoiding the distractions, there are a number of other options to support viewing, including subtitles, video quality and playback speed. These options can be useful for supporting students who may struggle to understand the speaker or when reviewing a lengthy instructional video.

Sharing Video

After watching, there are a number of ways to share videos with others. Underneath the title and publisher is a share button which, when clicked, reveals a series of options. The first thing to note is that there is the means to share from a particular point. Clicking the checkbox next to the specific time will add a small bit of code to the end of the URL.

Once the choice about the URL is decided, there are three options provided around sharing, the first is via social media. There are a number of platforms provided to share with. Once clicked, they will open a separate pop-up box. An account with each is needed to post.

The second option is to embed content into a blog post or a website. To do this, click the embed button and choose from the settings provided as to the size of the video, whether suggested videos are shown and the title and actions are included. There is also a privacy-enhanced option which prevents information being captured associated with viewers unless the video is played. Once these decisions have been made, copy the code for the iframe and insert the HTML where applicable. There are a few other changes that can be made directly to the code, such as automatically playing or turning on captions. Playing an iframe will work on most sites, however applications like GSuite and Facebook often skip this process by providing their own process of searching for content and then embedding it.

Personalising

YouTube provides a number of ways to personalise your experience. The first step involves signing into YouTube with a Google account. This allows some basic ways to engage with content, including the ability to like and dislike each video, as well as subscribe to channels.

“YouTube Viewing and Sharing Permissions” by sylviaduckworth is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

These options help YouTube build a basic profile to cater content for different tastes and interests. For users to take this a step further, there is a need to not only sign in, but create a channel in the Creator Studio.

Creating a Channel

Channels are at the core of the way YouTube works. Some assume that ‘Channel’ insinuates publishing content, but it means much more than that. Importantly, it provides a means of curating content and adjusting the way YouTube works for you. There are a number of ways to start this process, but the most obvious way is to click on user button in the top right and choose Creator Studio.

Choosing to create an account asks users to agree to separate terms and conditions. There is also the option to create a branded channel, such as a school or a project. Whatever the choice, you will be required to enter in a mobile phone number to verify the account.

Once the channel has been created, users are able to personalise their experience associated with with the Creator Studio. The first changes relate to the dashboard. This is the noticeboard of the channel and can be changed to show what is relevant and interesting. This is done by adding, deleting and modifying the various widgets.

 

The next point of personalisation is the channel itself. To find this, users click on the View Channel button below the channel name. Here a description and channel art can be added. Descriptions can be one thousand characters in length, while the recommended size for the channel art is 2560 x 1440.

A quick and easy application for creating this art is Google Drawings. One of the things to be mindful of is the dimensions of the different screens. Text, therefore, needs to be added to the centre. A template can be found here.

Another point of personalisation are the Channel Settings. This is where the choice whether the likes, subscriptions and playlists are either kept private or made visible on the channel page. Clicking on the cog next to the subscribe button will open up this menu.

The option is also given to customise the layout of the channel. Clicking yes will provide the ability to add different sections, provide a list of featured channels and add a discussion tab for general comments. The sections include a range of options associated with videos, channels and playlists.

When users visit a channel, there are two views: returning subscribers and new visitors. The difference between the two views is that the first thing that new visitors are shown is a trailer. This is designed to provide a visual introduction to the channel. The trailer can either be specific video or the latest upload.

Playlists

Beyond the channel page, playlists provide users a number of ways to personalise their experience. There are a number of ways they are created. The most obvious is pressing the ‘Add To’ button next to Share beneath a video. This opens a box allowing users to either add the video to a preexisting playlist or to start a new one.

Another option is to automate the creation of playlists. To do this, users click on a playlist they own and open the Playlist Settings. Beyond the basic settings, which allows users to adjust privacy and ordering, there is a tab labeled Auto Add. Here there are options for setting multiple rules focusing on description, title and tags, so that new videos fitting any of these rules will automatically be added. An example of such automation is YouTube’s EDU channel. This is generated from various channels that are generated around different year levels and subject areas.

In addition to automated playlists, there is the option to build on and adjust public playlists. This can be useful when wanting to add to somebody else’s playlist or refine a list to keep it more focused. To copy, click on the title of the playlist so that it opens as the whole page. Then click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner. There, you are given the option to ‘Add All To’. Once clicked, you are able to add the videos to a new playlist. This could be used to create a refined list for students.

Playlists are offer a useful to collect together a number of videos. So it needs to be noted that just as a single video can be embedded in a website, so to can a playlist. To do this, click on the playlist title so that it opens in a list view. Then click on the share button and copy the embed code.

Customising YouTube

YouTube Editor

The most obvious space to customise YouTube is in the creation of content. This is done within the Creator Studio. The easiest way to add content is via the upload button at the top of the screen. Otherwise, videos can be created from photos with the creation of slideshows or as a project which involves combining different content together.

Next, add information about the content, including title, description, tags, privacy settings and sharing. The advanced settings tab allows users to adjust a number of settings, such as showing comments, ability to embed and the category associated with the video. The defaults for these settings can also be adjusted in the channel settings.

Once uploaded, there is the option to edit content within YouTube. This includes the ability to adjust colour, stabilise jerky camera motion, change speed, trim length, apply filters and blur out particular content.

In addition to video, users can add a soundtrack with content provided from an extensive audio library. There is a slider to balance between original audio and the added music. The video editor allows for more nuances in regards to audio and sound effects.

Another option possible with YouTube is the ability to add clickable content to videos. This includes providing links to other content and users, as well as engaging the viewer with polls. This can occur during videos and at the end.

The last option in regards to editing video is the ability to add subtitles and closed captions. This then then leads into the various options associated with the videos

There is a Creator Studio app for mobile devices, which allows users to check out statistics, respond to comments and get customised notifications, while the core mobile YouTube app allows you to upload video, apply simply filters and add a soundtrack. Neither provides the options made available through the web.

YouTube Live Stream

Live streaming was added to YouTube in 2011 as a way of recording events in real time. This was designed in part for such things as gaming and concerts. Although the video can be trimmed later on, there is no post-production added, the video goes out as is. Recently, Hangouts on Air was also added as another means of sharing. Although Hangouts can still be used for conducting video conferences and chat, the recording aspect is now done through YouTube. At the recent I/O announcements, 360 streaming was also announced.

To create a stream, users go to the Creator Studio > Live Streaming > Event. If this is the first time then YouTube requires the completion of a verification process. A once off, this is done by telephone, either by sending a text or via an automated voice call. When complete, an event can then be scheduled.

Once a new event is created, there is a range of basic information and settings that can be adjusted, including the title, title, tags, privacy and description. In regards to types of video, users can choose between Hangouts on Air, which utilises the webcam, or custom encoding options, which allows for high quality experience by bringing together a number of audio visual sources.

There are a range of advanced settings that can also be adjusted, many which flow through from the channel upload defaults. These options include category, comments and licensing.

Stream Now provides more options around production, third-party encoders, analytics and engagement. This includes the ability to add cards to the video with further content, live chat to interact with viewers, as well as adjusting the workspace associated with streaming by moving around the various elements on the streaming page.

Although it is possible to stream via mobile devices, the options differ depending on what platform users are working from.

Collaborating in YouTube

In addition to being able to create content, YouTube offers a range of ways to collaborate, whether it be in the creation of playlists, sharing private videos and adding videos to a communal channel.

Playlist

In the settings there is the option to add collaborators to a playlist. This either involves directly adding the accounts for the various users or sharing a link which people can access. Larry Goble has shared how collaborative playlists can be used to provide feedback to student videos shared via YouTube.

Sharing Videos

Another means of collaborating is by uploading a private video and sharing it with various users. There are two options provided, one to share directly with users or to share with anyone within an organisation if the account is in a domain. This can be a useful function when sharing videos just within a school.

Collaborative Channels

Although individuals can have a channel content is posted, another way of collaborating is through a shared channel. This is Brand Account. It is attached to a user’s primary channel. With multiple owners, there is no need for a separate username or password. The most obvious use of this is a school account.

The first step is creating this is going to YouTube Settings > Overview > Create a New ChannelAs with any channel, there is a requirement to verify the account. This channel can then be set up like any other channel, with the difference being multiple users can be added. To add users, go to YouTube Settings > Overview > Add and Remove Managers.

Here users are taken to the myaccounts.google.com page where they are able to adjust the information attached to the account. This includes the adding roles and managing permissions.

There are three roles associated with users attached. Owners control all aspects of the channel, while managers can add videos. Communication managers have no privileges associated with YouTube and is a role associated with other platforms, such as Google Photos and Google+.

Transferring Ownership

The other way of setting up a Brand Account is by transferring the content an existing Google Account. To do this, go to YouTube Settings > Advanced > Move channel to Brand Account. Users are then required to select the Brand Account they would like the content transferred to. This can be useful if starting from scratch or wanting to transfer ownership.

Admin Settings

Another way in which YouTube can be customised is through the Admin Console. This allows schools and businesses to adjust content based on those users who are signed in.

There are three forms of restrictions that can be applied in regards to what content can be searched, as well as what might show up in the recommendations.  This includes restricted where content is blocked, moderate where users can only watch approved videos and unrestricted where users can browse all of YouTube when signed-in. Beyond this, there is a setting to moderate and approve content for users.

These restrictions can be applied to the whole organisation or just for particular groups. In addition to this, there is the option to turn Hangouts on Air / YouTube Live on or off.

There are also settings in User Contents where search settings can be adjusted, whether it be restricting searches to Safe Search or applying certificates to particular sites.

Although all these various settings are within GSuite, YouTube is not a part of the core services and has its own terms of service. Therefore, further permissions from parents about posting content is needed.

Other Links

A more automated way of sharing content is using a service such as IFTTT and Buffer, which allows users to create recipes which are run via all sorts of triggers, such as videos liked or new content posted.

Creator Academy – Learn tips from savvy creators as they showcase their secrets and level up your YouTube skills with Creator Academy lessons

Creating Video Content – A post unpacking some alternatives to creating video outside of YouTube.

Nat and Friends explains what happens to a video after you upload it and when you watch something.

197 Educational YouTube Channels You Should Know About – A collection of channels organised into subject areas.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting the integration of technology and innovation. I have an interest in how collectively we can work to creating a better tomorrow.

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A Comprehensive Guide to YouTube by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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