The YouTube debate forum

I  have heard so much about the danger of Youtube and in the schools that I work in you cannot access it because it has some “dodgy” material that children might find offensive.

There are a number of problems related to this act by the authorities. The obvious one is that children are still able to access Youtube when they go back home (and may even be uploading material onto it) and that to ban in it in school is to make the “forbidden fruit” seem all the more attractive to them.

I could continue to investigate this line of the problem but I have already written elsewhere about the recent Ofsted report that said that schools should be prepared to take on board the management of internet access for children and should be about teaching them to filter out the bad and recognise and use the good that exists “out there”.  (I am aware that this raises the next problem as to what constitutes good, what bad and how we teach them to understand the difference).

No, it is the other thing that comes from the banning of Youtube by many schools that I wish to look at today,namely the fact that there is so much on Youtube that is really good and will allow our children to develop their ideas and skills.

One of the key skills that children in a democratic society need to learn is alternative points of view. I was interested therefore when I saw a video being recommended on a blog that I follow called “An Open Letter To Educators”. This video has been made by a young University of Nebraska dropout by the name of Dan Brown.

I watched the video and was impressed by Dan’s persuasive argument about the need for schools and colleges to adapt to new technology or die. It was strong stuff that was well argued by a likeable young man who may well have a future in media or salesmanship.

I then noticed that along with the comments facility that has always existed on Youtube, they now have “video responses”. This provides a forum for discussion by others of a video that has been uploaded.

I looked at a couple of the responses and found some of the arguments against Dan’s point-of-view really good. It made me think just how important it is that we use this facility to get children and young adults to see that there are alternative points of view in an argument and that they need to listen (and watch) the arguments being made and then try to decide which one has convinced them the best.

But of course they cannot do this in many schools because the teachers are unable to get them to access the Youtube site. My argument is that this is an opportunity missed and that we should not ban them from the chance to see these things and start to make up their own minds…. they are not just digital citizens of today they are fully fledged voters and possibly administrators and politicians of tomorrow.

I am sure that there will be some who do not agree with my point of view. You can retort in the comments section if you wish…. or maybe make a video to upload to Youtube where you can state your point-of-view.

I am putting both Dan’s video and a really interesting response (one of 40 on the site) for you to consider where you stand. Our schoolchildren will be able to watch the video here.. but, because they are downloaded from a banned site, they will not be able to look at them in their classrooms or I.T. suites… and therein lies the problem.

I really  do welcome your opinions on this entry.

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