5 Reasons I’ll Be Yelled At for This Post About TeacherTube

Nov 2, 2009 by

Back in the Spring of 2007, just a few months before almost every major university had established their own channel on YouTube, TeacherTube was making the rounds of the edublogosphere. At the time, it was a Godsent gift to teachers everywhere looking for an alternative to the increasingly blocked preeminent video-sharing site. I planned entire projects around TeacherTube for the following school year, and hosted many of my student’s projects on the site. No commercials, no filtering or blocking, and best of all, it had a bright shiny apple in the logo with the word “teacher”, which magically made it 100% perfectly safe (in the eyes of many teachers and parents) from all of the detritus of fowl-mouthed YouTube commentators and inappropriate content.

Fast forward to present day, and TeacherTube has become one of the worst examples of online video-sharing, so much so that I’ve even started to explicitly advise teachers to STOP using TeacherTube to share their content.

Why do I feel this way you may ask? To be fair, I’ve broken my reasons into 5 separate thoughts, so that supporters of TeacherTube, and the entrepreneurs behind TeacherTube itself can respond in a way that best addresses the issues. That, and making lists is a lot of fun πŸ™‚

1. Commercialization Makes Me Cry…

I understand that as a business, TeacherTube must make money (or at least earn enough VC to attract the attention of Discovery Education in hopes of a buyout). However, After several months of video hosting and streaming, putting commercial advertisements on my videos (even though they be text advertisements) is NOT cool.

If I wanted advertisements, I would have hosted at YouTube, not your site. My students don’t need to be bothered with a link advertising help with their algebra from a tutoring service. They’re getting it from me, RIGHT NOW, with the video I’ve uploaded! Also, pick a target demographic and stick with it. Advertising for online Master’s degrees on one page, while soliciting “rock hard abs” by following “just 2 rules” isn’t exactly nailing your audience is it?

Am I saying you should take down your advertisements? NO! But if you’re going to plaster them on every video you need to offer a subscription-based OPT OUT system. I’m sure there are plenty of people willing to pay 5 dollars a month to have their content be add free. It would certainly be more money than what I assume you’re getting for the advertisements being run now.

2. Fix the Uploading Crash Bug Feature

In the past 4 weeks I have been unable to successfully upload a video from home, school, and a “neutral” third party location (public library). The little java-loader tells me that everything is going fine for the majority of the upload, and then, right at the end, as I’m preparing for the “All’s well that ends well” notification, I get nothing. The web browser times out, and TeacherTube becomes inaccessible for me on whichever machine I happen to be using for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Once it does become responsive again, is it possible that my video got uploaded? Nope! I’ve had the uploading “timeout” problem since I first started using TeacherTube. It’s become more pronounced, and soul-crushing in the last few months, to the point where I don’t trust TeacherTube for getting video up in a timely fashion, let alone even successfully uploading the earth shattering discovery in my ongoing investigation as to why elementary students MUST put headphone wires in their mouths.

3. Homepages…..Specifically MY homepage…..should have…..MY videos on it, WITHOUT clicking on another link!

‘Nuff Said

4. Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

I’m not in marketing, nor advertising, so I’m sure if presentation is the word I’m looking for, but at least put a little more attention to how seamless (or unglued) the TeacherTube experience is across the web. When I visit the site itself and view movies I’m presented with a nice, visually appealing video player. Visit that same video embedded on another website and the player is completely different. No buffering notification so I can see how much of the video has loaded, no quick rewind button, not even a zen-like spinning wheel that assures me something is happening in the background. And I’m presented with yet a 3rd kind of video player when I stumbled across my “video shelf”, which I’m still not sure how I found. Pick one seamless experience, and stick with it. My vote is for the player on the site itself.

5. When So Many Others are Doing Video Sharing Better, Why Keep Going?

The list could go on, but the point is….if you’re not going to innovate (uploading and attaching documents does not count), then at least imitate! Too often we as educators get the second-string effort when it comes to professional tools. We don’t always get the nicest, fastest computers at school. We don’t always get the best digital video cameras to create content with. We don’t even always have the top-shelf whiteboard markers that don’t leave greasy streaks on the board, but what we do have is competent at performing our daily tasks! We ask the same online.

If even by “adopting” some more standard practices among other video sharing sites equates to a small measurable difference in performance of the site, I say go for it! If blatantly copying features of other sites turns TeacherTube into a video-sharing powerhouse, then full steam ahead!

My real point isn’t to harp on how awful the site is, but rather to point out that we as educators have choices…too many choices to allow ourselves to be shackled to a sub-par service simply because it’s branded “for teachers”. Do I have other gripes with TeacherTube? Yes. Do I appreciate the service TeacherTube has offered simply by existing? Sure…it’s served as an excellent catalyst for the educational video hosting/sharing market, now we just need someone to step up the game.

And if no one’s game, I may just have to spend an afternoon getting a phpMotion install running on my own server. πŸ˜›

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14 Comments

  1. Paul Schillio

    Bravissimo! πŸ™‚

  2. Kit Hard

    You said it! And I’ll just add, TeacherTube is painfully slow to load.

  3. Jason

    Plus….accessing the site from school (a safe location) takes eons!!!

  4. Tom

    Dead on. I have grown to despise teachertube. There’s a line between making money and commercializing, they stepped over that line a while back. And if they are commercial then we ought to expect a decent product from them. They are now the portaportal of video and I do not say that as a compliment.

    Too often we as educators get the second-string effort when it comes to professional tools.

    I’d say that’s part of why web 2.0 and other free high quality tools have been so popular among teachers and students. They aren’t dumbed down, lame version of what “real” people might use. Teachertube doesn’t get that and that’s a shame.

  5. Craig

    Well said. So, what alternatives are working for everyone in an educational setting?

  6. You said it all. And if I get another “graduate school” ad from them – well, who knows what I’ll do!

    I really liked it at first but over the years, it has become a really frustrating and too commercial product.

    David

    • Tell me about it. What’s even more insulting is that the graduate degrees they’re offering area advertised as costing less than $6,000. Now, I’m not one to usually judge a program simply on how much it costs, but six thousand dollars does not a (highly accredited) graduate student make.

  7. Don

    My students and I have uploaded close to 500 videos on SchoolTube.com in the past 2 years. Not only do my students LOVE IT, many have received internships with local production companies, because they were able to send these employers to SchoolTube. My administrators LOVE IT as well, and we use it as one of our main communications tools for our students, district and community. No ads, easy uploads, etc……and it’s FREE for teachers. My entire broadcast program has changed due to the incredible benefits SchoolTube has to offer. Check them out as a fabulous alternative site that IS NOT BLOCKED at schools, because they have been endorsed by every major Administrative organization in the country, NAESP, NASSP, etc.

  8. I came across this post threw my stats for anim8 stop motion and wanted to say thank you for listing anim8 as one of your examples of a good video site.

    I have seen a lot of niche video sites with many of the problems you have mentioned here, personally I feel many try to monetise their sites to early and secondly when they don’t make a lot of money they begin to spam the users of the site with unrelated adds placed everywhere.

    I believe any website should treat their users with the respect they deserve and thanks for participating/using the site. I am sure teacher tube could fix a lot of these problems mentioned, if they will or not is another question.

    An option that I believe would be much more appropriate from serving up google adds, in video adds and all of the 3rd party banners would be to look for a site sponsor appropriate to their content and then they can tastefully have one or two banners which they can design to fit in with the rest of the site. They would possibly make more money doing this as well as many people don’t actually click on the adds now and instead would have a monthly revenue which they can then have more control over.

    I hope some of this made sense.

  9. Meghann

    Thank you for the schooltube recommendation…I have been bangning my head on the desk trying to get teachertube to successfully upload a video!

    • heather

      me too. God I thought I was going insane! There is no excuse for this kind of frustration. Teachers have enough as it is.

    • Schooltube has a nice desktop uploader too, so you can send videos to the site without having to login via a web browser.

  10. Hi Ben

    My first, only, and last experience with Teacher Tube was in May 2012 (just last year!). I spent a whole afternoon trying to upload a video. I had the same experience you had. I thought the problem was me. I went to Youtube and the whole thing uploaded instantly. I see your blogpost was written in 2009. I wonder how many customers/teachers they’ve lost in the interim?

    There’s a Youtube Education channel now. Youtube Education Channel I think Google has stepped in to do the job.

    • Ah yes Vivian, we also remember those days. Trust me we have definitely made improvements since then. Adding many more servers and a CDN to serve accros the globe to support video play has made a world of difference since we added both in late 2012. The cost of servers and CDN’s have dramatically came down in cost and now affordable since we want to keep TeacherTube free for Educators to use. It was hard at times for myself to enjoy the experience on the site. Now I cannot get leave it!

      Since our server and site upgrades we have also added Docs, Audios and Photos. Most importantly that we are very proud is to allow users to align their content to State Standards (Common Core and TEKS). Now the media content that is on TeacherTube serves a more valuable purpose for those who choose to to so. We also allow the community of educators to change, add, like/dislike, etc… the State Standard that are applied. This idea was actually brought to our attention from the community themselves.

      We respect any feedback, good or bad. We listen, and hope to make it more enjoyable to use as a learning tool in the classroom. Feel free to email me anytime at adam@teachertube.com.

      Thanks again for your feedback and patience.

      Adam Smith
      Co-Founder, TeacherTube.com
      adam@teachertube.com

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