Live and learn.

19 06 2008

Ever since this AHA Perspectives article that I wrote about teaching history with YouTube got published, I’ve been peppered with e-mails explaining that contrary to what I wrote in that article it is in fact possible to download videos from YouTube and play them back from your local computer. Now that I’ve had some time to play around with this concept, I can report definitively that my correspondents are right.

[In my own defense I was going off the YouTube FAQ. From its silence I surmise that Google doesn’t want you to do this, the same way that record companies don’t want you to download music onto your iPod. In any event, since this is a legal gray area, I’m not sure I could have written about this in Perspectives anyway.]

By far the easiest way to download video from anywhere (YouTube included) is to download the the latest version of Real Player. If Real Player is active a button will appear during every video you view asking you whether you want to download it. You click the button and that’s that. It is both quick and easy.

My problem is that my campus computer system is Microsoft exclusive so I can’t download Real Player anywhere else except the computer in my office. Therefore, I’ve started using one of many YouTube download programs that are available. My choice is aTube Catcher 1.0 [Available here.] With this I download from YouTube, convert it to an .mpg file and keep it in a folder on my desktop which I can access from classrooms across campus. By doing this, I can treat all the YouTube videos the same way I handle the files I get from the Library of Congress or the Prelinger Archives. It’s also easy to back them up this way.

Thanks again correspondents! I’m actually glad I made that mistake in print otherwise I never would have known what to do.


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