Greetings, blog lovers.  Welcome to my first post to the BlackboardTV Blog.  I’m a graphic designer at Blackboard, handling some of the creative needs for BlackboardTV, so I spend some of my time online, searching for innovative trends in design and video use.

I think you’ll agree with me that the Internet, and more specifically YouTube, can be a powerful educational tool. Where else can you learn how to fry a turkey, fix a leaky sink, or paint portraits like a master artist just by watching a short video clip?

Typing "How To" into the YouTube search field brings up a variety of instructional videos, like a detailed explanation of how to fold a shirt in two seconds or how to plant a tree, and even how to train a cat to turn on a light switch (I’m not kidding).

But there are how-to videos posted to YouTube that clearly illustrate unethical and sometimes illegal things: cheating on tests, picking locks, making your iPod into a Taser (no, still not kidding).  And many of these videos contain humor aimed directly at children and teenagers.  I’ve read so many news stories about teenagers building destructive things from plans available on the Internet or hurting themselves while emulating "cool" — and physically dangerous — things they’ve seen online.

So, I think it’s important for adults to teach children how to use the Internet as they would a tool.  And, like any tool, the Internet can be used in both good and bad ways — in safe, constructive ways and harmful, destructive ways.  In the classroom, especially, teachers have a real opportunity to model the good use of video by working with students to create instructional video clips.

If you’re a teacher and using video in class or in an online course, please let me know.  I can be reached at BbTV@blackboard.com.  At the BlackboardTV Channel on YouTube, you can search and watch scores of instructional videos created by Blackboard users, and we’d like to add to that archive the instructional videos you’ve created with your students.

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