YouTube is about to surpass television as the most-watched entertainment medium in the world, with 1 billion views a day. It’s no wonder why so many school IT directors spend so much time and effort trying to make YouTube a safer place for students.
YouTube and other streaming video sites offer an incredible variety of educational resources for educators and students. They also offer plenty of videos that aren’t appropriate for schools — distracting content such as TV shows and movies, and graphic content including porn, extremist propaganda, and violence.
Four hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which is why YouTube has limited capabilities to police its content, relying heavily on users to find and report dangerous content. Sites like Vimeo operate similarly.
Now, there’s a better way for schools to handle streaming video: Smart Play. We announced Smart Play yesterday at ISTE 2017, and it’s the result of months of research and development into how to make YouTube safe, educationally enriching places for students.
Here are five things to know about Smart Play, available in the next release candidate of Web Filter 3: Longhorn and coming soon to Relay for Chrome.
1. Smart Play enables access to millions of videos.
Smart Play uses proprietary, machine-learning technology to find YouTube videos that are appropriate for education. (These videos are also accessible if they’re embedded on other websites.) Smart Play identifies and opens access to millions of videos — 28 million, as of this morning.
2. Smart Play’s database gains millions more videos each day.
The more videos we add to Smart Play’s database, the smarter it gets at identifying appropriate content, and the faster it grows. Tomorrow morning, our database will have grown by about 2 million videos!
3. There’s no need for block/allow lists or YouTube’s restricted modes.
Until now, solutions for school YouTube use included:
• Allowing all streaming video, leaving users open to inappropriate content and making CIPA compliance basically impossible
• Blocking all streaming video, limiting educational opportunities
• Allowing streaming video and building a custom list of blocked sites, which is incredibly time-consuming
• Blocking streaming video and maintaining a list of allowed sites, which is also time-consuming
• Managing a custom library of allowed videos, which is time-consuming for IT and confusing for users
• Allowing YouTube categories on a case-by-case basis or enabling a restricted mode, which counts on YouTube’s self-reported categorizations to be accurate (and many aren’t)
With Smart Play, you don’t have to utilize any of these methods to offer safe YouTube access to students.
4. You can enable Smart Play in just one click!
Whether you license Relay for Chrome or Web Filter 3, turning on Smart Play couldn’t be faster.
Through Web Filter, click Web Filter on the left navigation, and select General under Settings. Scroll down and you’ll see Lightspeed Systems Smart Play under Video Filtering; click the radio button next to it, and hit save.
If you have Relay, select Internet Access from the left navigation and click YouTube Block List on the drop-down menu. Toggle the button to the right of Smart Play.
5. You can customize video access if you choose.
Enabling Smart Play takes about a second, but you can customize the access on a granular level, too. Web Filter and Relay enable you to allow and block specific channels and videos and differentiate access by user type and group.
Want to learn more about using Smart Play? Register here for our webinar, “Smart Play: Making YouTube Management Easy and Safe,” at 10 AM CDT on July 27.
Want to learn more about Web Filter 3 or Relay for Chrome? Fill out this form to get a demo.