Seven streaming video sites

When I started teaching high school science around twenty years ago, a filmstrip was still considered an advanced instructional technology.  Incorporating films into a classroom was no easy process.  To show a movie, a teacher would have to request a film from a local repository weeks or sometimes months before she needed it and then keep her fingers crossed that the film was delivered when it was needed.  There was really no way to preview a film to gauge its quality or relevance.   Add in the expense of film projectors and the difficulty with setting them up and maintaining them, it’s no wonder that many teachers just avoided using movies altogether.

But the world is a much different place now. High speed Internet has brought us streaming video that we can access on demand.  We can use LCD projectors to display the movie to a class and easily cue up the parts we want to show.  We can even embed videos into other websites (Ning, Desire2Learn, etc) to allow students to watch movies in an online class or as part of a homework assignment for a face-to-face class.  Videos are a great way to engage the visual learners in your classes and a perfect way to reinforce a concept discussed in class.  Seeing how valuable videos can be in our classes, I thought I’d feature a bunch of resources for streaming video and what they can offer your classes.

YouTube: Any discussion of streaming video should begin with YouTube.  Although it is often maligned for the number of videos featuring Lady Gaga or showing Charlie biting his brother’s finger, YouTube offers tremendous opportunities for educators.  Besides the millions of videos on a variety of topices, YouTube also maintains an EDU section where you can find lectures from Columbia, Stanford, UCLA and many other institutions.

Hulu: If you aren’t familiar with Hulu, you need to check it out.  Now.  Hulu offers free (but commercial supported) streaming television shows and movies.  Although rumors persist that Hulu will eventually start charging members to use the site, there is an amazing amount of content available.  Besides current movies and TV shows, Hulu offers a treasure trove of oldtime favorites like Bewitched and the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  There are also thousands of PBS shows spanning the last thirty years that would be perfect for just about any class.

The Internet Archive: The Internet Archive is a little known resource for video. The mission of the Internet Archive is to offer permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.  In addition to offering videos that can be streamed from the site, videos on the Internet Archive can also be downloaded and shared.  The site is pretty incredible.  Want to show a 1919 video on Democracy in Education?  The Internet Archive has one.  Want to show Reefer Madness?  The Internet Archive has it.  All for free!

The Open Video Project: The mission of the Open Video Project is to collect and make available a repository of digitized video content for the digital video, multimedia retrieval, digital library, and other research communities.  Unlike the other sites in this post, the OVP does not stream its videos but instead offers all of the videos as free downloads.  Although the site can be difficult to navigate, the OVP offers a wide variety of scientific, historical and educational videos.  For instance, check out this short film from the turn of the 20th Century featuring students in a school in Lancaster.

22Frames: Unlike the other sites I’ve featured in this post, 22Frames really stands apart.  While the content that 22Frames offers might not be that expansive, the videos offer closed captioning for students with hearing impairment.  The site can also be useful for students who are learning English as a second language since the words are shown and spoken simultaneously, which may aid in language acquisition.

Netflix: While I initially hesitated to add Netflix to this list, I think the site offers a great deal of potential in our classrooms.  Netflix is a subscription based video site that offers streaming video and DVD rentals.  Netflix is quickly entering the smartphone (and iPad) world and I predict will become more ubiquitous over the next year or so.  Besides popular theatrical releases, Netflix offers TV shows like This American Life and a host of documentaries like Food, Inc. which would be great resources educationally.

BBC Motion Gallery: The BBC has partnered with a few other broadcasters (HBO, CBS, etc) to offer a great deal of old news footage and television shows online.   While NBC offers a similar services with its new archives, NBC charges for accessing the contents.  BBC Motion Gallery does not.  For instance, check out this video of the desegregation of the University of Alabama from 1963 or this news reel from the bombing of Pearl Harbor.


One thought on “Seven streaming video sites

  1. Pingback: Free streaming documentaries with SnagFilms «

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