Downloading YouTube (and other streaming video and media)
We’re all being encouraged to use more multi-media in teaching today. The problem is how to get to all this great content. I am a big proponent of making video sites, such as YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo, and others available freely in schools, but most administrations see otherwise. Unfortunately, this closes the door on a wide range of fantastic material, including documentaries, tutorials, television and feature film clips and much more that could be used to add depth and breadth to lessons in any subject area.
This shouldn’t be a deterrent for you in your class, however. In fact, with only a little legwork at home you can grab any videos you need or want to show in your classroom from these sites while at the same time preserving them to use year after year without searching online. Having the videos and clips you want to show stored offline also avoids the sometimes problematic issue of videos buffering while they are streaming directly from the Internet.
The following are fantastic (and easy) ways to capture those videos and have them ready to use in the classroom.
- KEEPVID – Simply copy and paste the video URL from your browser’s address bar into the keepvid site and click download. You can choose from a High Quality or a High Definition mp4 file to download. Recently Keepvid has added a bookmarklet option. Drag the button on their site to your bookmark bar in your browser and a “Keep It!” link will appear. Click that for instant downloads.
- SAVEVID – Another copy and paste for the video URL. Savevid has a slightly nicer interface, however, and allows you to see the formats available for download (it supports HD in .mp4, .avi, .mov, .flv, and .mpg) and the file size along with video resolutions. Of added interest, Savevid allows you to browse by categories and see the latest downloads, daily top 20 and all time top 50 downloads to find new and different videos to use.
- SPLANDOO – The final copy and past on this list. Splandoo offers you an immediate choice for file format of your video and lists its supported video sides in a dropdown menu next to the text box for the URL. Splandoo is a very clean, easy to understand interface, but it does not support downloads from vimeo.com. As with all the downloader’s, remember where you’ve saved your video so you can find it. You might want to go back and rename the file too, since they will be named by the URL tag, and not title.
- FREEMAKE – This is a stand-alone, downloadable freeware program. Freemake works under the same principle as the browser based downloader’s but offers much more. Not only do you have the convenience of an independent program in case your favorite download site is down, but Freemake’s program also allows you to save your video in multiple formats, and also convert already saved videos to several formats. Depending on the software you will be using to show your videos, this is very important as not all video formats play in all players. I personally recommend converting videos to .avi as this seems to be the most universally played type.
- BROWSER ADD-ONS – Each web browser (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) has an ability to search for and add on buttons that will help you download video as well. Some limitations are in place, such as supported sites (Chrome won’t grab YouTube, for example) as well as functionality. I have found that the most reliable and easiest add-on to use for downloading video is the Download Helper for Mozilla Firefox. Inside Firefox, you can access add-ons through the help menu and then when browsing add-ons, search for DownloadHelper. A button will be added next to your address bar and as supported media is found on a page, the icon will begin to move. A drop down menu will allow you to choose your file formats for download. I really like this one because it not only supports video, but any media – so you can download audio and even all the images on a site, with just one click!
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of the video and media download sites and services, hopefully it will give you a starting point for finding and adding these fantastic multimedia tools into your lessons. As with any resource used, please make sure you check the copyright protection and ensure that is will qualify for an Acceptable Use and always give credit where credit is due.