I clicked around SchoolTube in order to familiarize myself with the site’s content. An interesting comparison surfaced. I watched the first video on SchoolTube’s Discover page, which boasts the best videos from teachers and students. In the top trending video on SchoolTube, a school principal spoke directly into the camera, introducing herself to her school’s community. She talked about her family and explained the leadership styles that matter most to her. Nice? Yes. Exciting? No. Next, I watched the first video appearing on YouTube’s Popular on YouTube channel. This video featured a teenage boy standing in a field. Dressed in jeans, work boots and a hooded sweatshirt, the boy leaned down to place a firecracker in a pile of fresh cow manure. With the explosive lit, he stood back about four feet and awaited the detonation. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but the difference in content between SchoolTube’s top trending video and YouTube’s most popular explains why SchoolTube is necessary in the first place.
SchoolTube is YouTube without profanity-laced comments. SchoolTube is YouTube without a sidebar recommending videos you might like alongside videos that you wish you didn’t know about. SchoolTube is YouTube without most of the reasons many schools choose to block YouTube.
Luckily, SchoolTube has the basic features of YouTube that help students develop some important skills. It's best for teachers and schools who want to create and publish videos but have concerns about YouTube’s questionable content. On SchoolTube, kids and teachers can upload and view videos. A moderator from the school must review all videos before they're published. Teachers who register accounts become moderators who agree to review content. Since the videos have to be approved before they go up, videos might take 24 hours or longer before they appear on the site. SchoolTube tries to be clean, not fast.
Generally speaking, the video content has all the excitement of a formulaic five-paragraph essay. Because of the tight restrictions on content, don’t expect SchoolTube to replace YouTube in terms of popularity anytime soon. Unlike YouTube, kids won’t be drawn to the content on SchoolTube. The emphasis on keeping content clean means that kids who search the site to explore their interests will find mostly school projects. For that reason, it's best used as a place to publish videos, not watch them.
Teachers create accounts by finding their school in a dropdown menu and submitting an email address. If no school account exists, SchoolTube prompts teachers to register their school. Students hoping to register have to also find their school in a dropdown menu. If the school isn’t there, they’re directed to ask an adult at school to create an account.
Uploading and sharing are simple. You have to title, describe and categorize your video before submitting it to a moderator for approval. You’ll set privacy settings to either Public or My School. Once a teacher’s account is confirmed by the staff at SchoolTube.com, a teacher can approve their own videos and publish instantly. Teachers organize their videos on a channel, while students don’t have the option to create a channel. Once the video is up, the page with the video has a hyperlink and an embed code for putting the video in another Web page. Facebook and Twitter buttons allow you to quickly post to social media channels.