YouTube Playlists for CanvasLIVE

Here’s my YouTube Playlist slideshow, with notes and links below, plus the YouTube video. You can find out more about the CanvasLIVE event at the Canvas Community site.

Here are the notes:

Slide 1. CanvasLive.
Slide 2. Title slide.
Slide 3. Connected Learning… with Cats.

Slide 4. Taming the Web: The Power of Curation. Today I’m going to be talking about YouTube, and part of what I’ll be showing you is some technical nitty-gritty about playlists and about embedding playlists in Canvas (or anywhere; you can embed playlists in blogs, wikis, websites, etc.), but I also want to talk today in general about CURATION, the role that we all play today in trying to organize the enormous amount of resources that are available to us in the digital world. So, curation will really be the main theme of my talk today, and how creating YouTube playlists is a really powerful act of curation, and then curation will also be the theme of the other two CanvasLIVE talks I have coming up: on June 15 I’ll be talking about curating online books and other open educational resources, and then on June 29 I’ll be talking about image curation using Pinterest and Flickr.

Slide 5. Before the Web: Books and Libraries. I don’t know about you, but the word curation is not one that was part of my world when I was in school myself as a student. I did all my schooling (all my decades of schooling!) in the years before the Internet. So, that was a world where information existed in books, and those books were found in libraries or, if you had the money, you could buy books to have in your home. Then there was also the information that you had in your head, and a big part of the schooling process was transferring certain information from certain books into your head, and being tested on that. There were a lot of books, of course, and those books contained way more information than you could ever hope to transfer to your head… but you didn’t really think about information itself as something that you had to organize for yourself, even as a teacher, much less as a student. The information was in the books (especially the textbooks) or in the magazines or in the newspapers, and while it might take some effort to find the information you needed, the information was all nicely organized for you.

Slide 6. The Information: A History, A Theory, a Flood. But then came the Internet, and the information explosion in our newly digital world. If you want to learn about that, I cannot say enough good things about James Gleick’s book The Information. He is one of my favorite writers, and this is my favorite of his books. Admittedly, there are a lot of people, even teachers, who still have not figured out how this is supposed to work, and they attempt to resist the digital world rather than adapting to work with it. They still want to rely on textbooks and getting information into their students’ heads, and insofar as they use digital materials, they want those digital materials to mimic the old world of printed books and the libraries that contained those books.

Slide 7. Information Overload and Content Curation. For me, though, the Internet is what I always wanted: infinitely big libraries without boundaries, a world where there is no shortage of information. Instead, there is now a superabundance of ever-growing and changing information — not just books but also images, audio, and video — and the challenge that we face as teachers is how to organize that information, finding the best and most valuable resources for our own purposes, while also teaching our students how to find the best and most valuable resources for their own purposes too (see John Spencer on this important topic). One word to describe that process is CURATION.

Slide 8. YouTube Video Explosion. YouTube is a great example of the digital explosion… and the subsequent need for curation. The first video was published at YouTube in 2005 and now, in 2017, about 5 billion videos are watched each day, and over 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute (source). YouTube is also an incredible mess, especially since it is very hard for Google to provide index and search services for video materials, much more so than text-based materials. For sure there are incredibly valuable materials on YouTube, materials that can really help us in our work as teachers, but it is not easy to find what you need. You can rely on trusted sources, like TED or PBS or Khan Academy, etc., but that is only a tiny, a very tiny fraction of the available video. You can also rely on word of mouth, and one of the most important reasons for teachers to network is so that we can share our discoveries, telling others about some great video that we have found and passing it on.

Slide 9. YouTube Playlists: Learn and Share. And that, my friends, is what curation is all about: keeping track of the great materials you find online so that you can make good use of those materials yourself and also share what you have found with others. This is also the theme of connected learning (which is the pedagogy banner I am usually waving): Learn, and then share what you have learned.

Slide 10. Dimensions of Curation. Now there are all kinds of ways you can curate, and different roles you can play as a curator, different priorities you might have. This graphic provides a nice set of categories to think about (source). If you poke around in Google, you can find all kinds of graphics and infographics about the curation process. What’s fascinating to me about the topic of curation is that it is not just something that teachers are thinking about; it is also a huge concern to anyone who is communicating information online. That means you can get ideas from people in many different professions and — here’s the best thing! — you can help prepare your students for those different professions by teaching them about curation and making that an explicit part of what you do as a teacher. You are curating information as the teacher of the class, and you can also be teaching your students how to be information curators as well. I create YouTube playlists, for example, and I also teach my students how to create YouTube playlists. I embed playlists in my blogs, and I also teach my students how to embed playlists in their blogs. We are co-learners… and co-curators!

Slide 11. My YouTube Channel and Playlists. So, now I’ll talk some about YouTube and playlists. Playlists are a way that YouTube lets you collect videos and organize them as part of your YouTube channel. If you have a Google account, that means you have a YouTube channel, although most people don’t spend a lot of time organizing their channel. I made a conscious decision a few years ago to clean up and organize my videos because they were really just getting totally out of control, and that was a really great decision, one that has paid off tremendously in being able to offer my students lots of high-quality video options in my classes. So, before I get into the details of how playlists work and the cool things you can do with them, let me quickly run through some of the playlists that I use in my classes now.

Slide 12. Growth Mindset Playlist. A theme I emphasize in both of my classes is growth mindset, and I have this growth mindset playlist for students to browse; they can then do a “learn about growth mindset” assignment each week, reading an article or choosing a video to watch, and then writing up a reflection blog post with their thoughts. I also have a related set of videos that I call Learning by HEART which explores related meta-themes like health, happiness, empathy, attention, reading and time (that’s where the H.E.A.R.T. acronym, or, rather, backronym comes from).

Slide 13. Daily Announcements Playlist. As you might know from an earlier CanvasLIVE about using a blog-as-homepage, I do daily announcements for my classes, and I include at least one video every day. I build a playlist of all those videos each semester so that students can go back and browse through past videos. Here’s the playlist that resulted from the daily announcement videos in Spring 2017.

Slide 14. Indian Music Playlist. I teach a course in Indian Epics which might turn out to be the only course about India that my students will ever take, so in addition to teaching them about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, I also try to expose them to Indian culture more generally, and of course music is one of the most beautiful dimensions of Indian culture. I use YouTube music videos to share music from India with them; I have an overall playlist of Indian music, plus individual playlists dedicated to my favorite musicians like Manish Vyas, Anoushka Shankar, and, my favorite of favorites, Maati Baani.

Slide 15. Videobook Playlists. I am very fortunate that the Epified TV channel in India has created “video books” for one of my favorite authors, Devdutt Pattanaik (he’s at Twitter too!). They release those videos singly, but I then put them into playlists which I can share with my students. The latest one they have done is Secrets of the Goddess (which is also available as a cheap Kindle book for my students who want/need a text to go with the video). For many of my students, reading is a chore, but the ability to listen to and also watch a book being presented in this way really appeals to them, and I am really grateful to Epified for making all this amazing content available for my class.

Slide 16. CanvasLIVE Playlist. And while it’s not for my classes, I also have a CanvasLIVE video playlist… to which I’ll add this video as soon as it is ready. One of my main motivations in doing these CanvasLIVE presentations is the fact that we are using YouTube as a platform, and that I can share the videos in the form of a YouTube CanvasLIVE playlist.

So, those are some of the playlists I am using. Of course, you can snag any videos that I am using if you think they can be useful to you (that’s the power of curation AND sharing), and even if the actual contents are not useful to you, perhaps some of the strategies and approaches I am using — daily videos, videos for enrichment, videos to supplement text-based content — will inspire you to think of new ways you can use video systematically as part of your teaching.

And now on to some of the nitty-gritty for how you create and manage playlists. Luckily, it is all really easy!

Slide 17. Creating Playlists. I’ve written out some instructions for my students on creating playlists, and you can use those same instructions: Creating Playlists. (You’ll see there that I used a Shankar Tucker playlist as an example there, and I pinged him at Twitter when I first created these instructions… and we had a Twitter back-and-forth as a result! That’s another really fun thing about working with artists who are social-media-aware; you can connect with them directly sometimes at Twitter or wherever they are active online.)

Slide 18. Managing Playlists. You will probably be adding new videos to your playlist, and possibly removing videos also. When you look at a playlist page, you have options to rearrange the order of a playlist, and also to choose the thumbnail for the playlist display. You can also add annotations there, although the options for annotation are really primitive; in particular, you cannot include active links, just the raw URL, the annotations can only be very short although I’m not sure what the actual character limit is. As a result, I have pretty much given up on doing annotations there at YouTube, although it is possible; if I were to be allowed one change to make at YouTube playlists, it would be for real links and extended space in the annotations box.. For more information about managing playlists, see this post at my Canvas blog: YouTube Playlists.

Slide 19. Embedding Playlists. And here’s where the real excitement begins: you can embed a playlist, and you can have the playlist start either at the beginning automatically (based on whatever the current video is at the top of the list), or you can embed a specific video with backwards/forwards buttons that take you to the other videos in the playlist (based on whatever the current order of the playlist is). By default, the playlist will keep on playing until it gets to the end of the list. I’ve written up instructions for how to embed here: Embedding Playlists.

Slide 20. Embedded Video-in-Playlist. So, for example, when I embed a video in the daily class announcements, I do that by putting the new video at the top of the Announcements playlist, and that means students can play not only the video for that day, but they can let the playlist keep on going to catch any videos they might have missed and/or want to see again. See the post here.

Slide 21. Embedded Playlist. I also embed playlists in the sidebars of my blogs; for example, here is the Indian music playlist in the sidebar of one of my India class blogs: Indian Epic Images.

Slide 22. Playlists in Canvas. It’s also easy to embed a playlist in Canvas; here’s a Canvas page where I have actually embedded three different videos: one is a randomized video that I made with a javascript (more about that in my CanvasLIVE on javascripts), plus two embedded playlists.

And here’s an important tip about embedding playlists: when you embed the whole playlist, as opposed to a single video, the top video in the list is what gets displayed OR the thumbnail (depending on the web context). So, to keep your playlists fresh, you can set yourself a reminder to move the bottom video from the playlist up to the top and make it the thumbnail. If you do that every few days, your playlist stays fresh even if you are not adding actual new videos. That’s what I do with the playlists I embed in my blog sidebars. That way, students returning to the blog once or twice a week see a new video each time (new in the sense that they have not watched them before).

So, as you can see, there is not a lot of nitty-gritty in this presentation compared to other CanvasLIVE presentations I’ve done: YouTube playlists are both incredibly powerful AND incredibly easy. It really just takes a desire and a commitment to curate… there’s no special technical expertise of any kind that is involved here.

Slide 23. Advantages of Playlists. And in order to hopefully inspire a desire for curation, let me know quickly run through the advantages that I see in using YouTube playlists:

1. Save those videos! With playlists, I can quickly save the videos I see making the rounds here at Canvas Community, at Twitter, and at Google+. Before I started curating, I lost track of so many fabulous videos at YouTube that I will probably never find again. Now, when I see a video I think I want to use, I save it in a “to-do” playlist, and then later, when I have time, I put it into the right playlist(s) for my classes. That way, I know where to find the video again, while also sharing it with my students.

2. I provide the students with an endless supply of good videos to watch. Every video that I share with them is in some kind of playlist, which means there are more videos if they want, right there, as chosen and arranged by me. That is one of the real services I can provide to them as a teacher: I have the time, expertise, and eagerness to go out there and create collections of videos that can offer a good learning opportunity.

3. I put the videos in context. One of the biggest problems with YouTube, and with the Internet in general, is that information becomes decontextualized. One of the most important things we do when we curate content for our students is to put that image in context, and by sharing videos in playlists, that playlist provides the students with valuable context, increasing the value of every video in the playlist.

4. I model curation and sharing for my students. All my students are aware of YouTube, of course, but many of them have not thought about having a YouTube channel where they can create playlists. I show students the value of sharing videos in playlists, and I also encourage them to do the same, teaching them how to create their own playlists.

5. I increase the value of the Internet. Seriously! The Internet needs content creators… and it also needs content curators! So, by creating and sharing my playlists, I increase the value of each video on that list by putting it in the context of a playlist. The videos become more useful to any human being who encounters one of my playlists, and the playlists are also useful to the Google Mind, helping Google to understand what videos are related to each other. As I mentioned earlier, Google has a hard time searching and organizing video content (more so than text-based content), so by creating playlists we are helping Google figure out what’s going on with these videos… and Google really does need our help with that. So, give Google a break: organize your videos in playlists. You, your students, and the Google Mind will all benefit.

Slide 24. Presentation Recap.
Slide 25. Let’s connect!
Slide 26. Closing slide.

Growth Mindset CanvasLIVE

Here’s the Growth Mindset Slidedeck for the CanvasLIVE presentation, with notes and links below, and I’ve also embedded the YouTube video of the event. 🙂

Here are the slides with notes:

Slide 1. Welcome Slide.

Slide 2. Title Slide.

Slide 3. Connected Learning… with Cats.
You can find the complete series here at this blog: Connected Learning with Cats. I’ve got four more events scheduled after this one: Javascripts, YouTube Playlists, Free Online Books, and Pinterest/Flickr. Let me know what other topics would be of interest!

Slide 4. Five Key Mindset Concepts.
In Part A of the presentation, I’ll describe my approach to the growth mindset concept with these five key ideas.

Slide 5. Carol Dweck: Mindset.
I recommend Carol Dweck’s book Mindset very highly, and you can also find some excellent Carol Dweck videos along with articles and interviews online. She is extremely good at speaking to a wide range of audiences: teachers, parents, and learners of all kinds.

Slide 6. Five Design Strategies.
In Part B, I’ll explain how I use growth mindset ideas when I design my courses.

Slide 7. Five Tools at the Website.
In the final part of the presentation, I’ll provide an overview of some helpful tools I am using to build a new open Canvas course resource: Exploring Growth Mindset which has this simple URL:


Slide 8. Five Key Mindset Concepts.
I approach the growth mindset concept from different angles: Aim High — Explore — Work Hard — Improve — Enjoy. You might decide to break down the mindset concept differently for your students; this is what I have found works best for me!

Slide 9. 1. Aim High.
This area involves setting realistic personal goals, along with being willing to take risks to achieve those goals, and persevering. One thing I find really helpful is to get students focused on moving forward; don’t try to retrace your steps, but just keep on looking ahead to figure out what to do next! There are articles and more resources here.

Slide 10. 2. Explore.
This is probably my personal favorite among the growth mindset domains: curiosity and creativity. This is also where I locate research on neuroplasticity and the fact that as you learn, you are literally growing new connections in your brain. Given that many of my students are future medical professionals, this is definitely something I like to emphasize in the growth mindset approach. There are articles and more resources here.

Slide 11. 3. Work.
Side by side with open-ended exploration is the need to stay focused, work hard, and be patient as you put in all the practice that is required to learn new skills. I teach writing, so practice is a huge part of that process, and patience is definitely required! LOTS of patience. There are articles and more resources here.

Slide 12. 4. Improve.
As a teacher, there is where I put in the most effort: students need detailed, helpful, timely feedback in order to learn from their mistakes. I also urge the students to do a lot of self-reflection and to see themselves as learners beyond the scope of the course: my biggest goal is to help them become self-determined learners for life! There are articles and more resources here.

Slide 13. 5. Enjoy.
By fun and enjoyment, I have in mind the joy of learning itself, along with connecting and sharing with others. Plus, it’s important to take care of yourself: learning is hard work, so you need to make sure you take time to relax. You can’t afford to neglect health or happiness if you want to succeed over the long run! There are articles and more resources here.


Slide 14. Five Design Strategies.
These are strategies that work in my classes, and I am guessing they can be generalized to other classes as well: Teach about Mindset — Reinforce Daily — Create Challenges — Focus on Feedback — Be a Co-Learner.

Slide 15. 1. Teach about Mindset.
I start the semester with a growth mindset activity in the first week of class: Week 1 Growth MindsetThis TED talk by Carol Dweck is one good way to get started, and my students then share their thoughts and reactions in a blog post (my students all have their own blogs), although of course a discussion board could work also. Students usually have a lot to say on this topic!

Slide 16. 2. Reinforce Daily.
I use Growth Mindset Cats every day in my class announcements, and you can find out more about the daily announcements: CanvasLIVE on Blog-as Homepage. There are Growth Mindset Cats both in the body of the announcements and in the sidebar, along with random student quotes from their blog posts in the sidebar as well.

Slide 17. 3. Create Challenges.
Students can complete weekly growth mindset challenges of their choice; developing new kinds of challenges is one of my goals for this summer. In addition, as students work on their writing, I pose that process in the form of  writing challenges. For those of you who teach writing, I have found this to be really successful: it helps students remember that learning how to write is a long-term growth process, and it also encourages them to set goals for themselves as part of that long-term process.

Slide 18. 4. Focus on Feedback.
I am constantly trying to improve my own feedback practices, while helping students understand both giving and receiving feedback. This is where I spend the largest chunk of my time as a teacher, and I try really hard to couch my feedback to the students in terms of growth mindset concepts.

Slide 19. #TTOG Teachers Throwing Out Grades.
I also have to say something here about the need to stop punitive grading if we want students to trust us that learning from mistakes is really okay. If it’s really okay, we have to stop penalizing for mistakes and instead focus on recognition of learning progress. You can read about how I’ve tried to do that in my classes here: all-feedback-no-grades.

Slide 20. 5. Be a Co-Learner.
Probably the thing I like best about growth mindset is that I am constantly working on my mindset, side by side with my students. We are COLEARNERS. Admittedly, our goals are different (I’m trying to learn how to become a better teacher; they are learning how to become better writers)… but growth mindset allows us to see those different goals as part of a shared growth process.


Slide 21. Five Canvas-Friendly Tools.
I’ll finish up with a quick overview of my new Canvas course resource site: Exploring Growth Mindset. My goal is for this site to have a continuous stream of new content automatically. I am not going to have time to update it when the school year begins, so I need it to update based on my normal web activities which is based on using these tools.

Slide 22. 1. Flickr & Pinterest.
As I create new mindset cats, I add them to my albums at Flickr and at PinterestBoth of these tools are easy to embed inside a Canvas course, and I’ll be doing a CanvasLIVE presentation later this summer about using Flickr and Pinterest in Canvas: Beautiful Curation: Pinterest and Flickr in Canvas.

Slide 23. 2. Diigo Bookmarks.
As I find new resources, I bookmark them with Diigo, and they then appear automatically in Canvas. My current focus is transcribing infographics. To get the Diigo bookmarks to appear in Canvas, I use an RSS tool called Inoreader; if that is something you are interested in, get in touch with me, and I will be glad to share details about how that works.

Slide 24. 3. Twitter.
I have a dedicated Twitter account, @MindsetPlay, that I use just for growth mindset and related materials. You can see the live feed inside the Canvas course, and I did a CanvasLIVE that explains how to use real Twitter widgets this way inside a Canvas course: Twitter4Canvas CanvasLIVE.

Slide 25. 4. YouTube.
I have a YouTube playlist of growth mindset videos. Please send me suggestions of videos you find useful in teaching about growth mindset with your students! There’s a Feedback form at the site you can use for that. Also, I have a CanvasLIVE about YouTube Playlists coming up this summer: Amplify YouTube with Playlists.

Slide 26. 5. Padlet.
I am really excited about using Padlet to collect and share thoughts from my students about their growth mindset experiences. I find their ideas to be really inspiring! You can read more in my Canvas Community blog about Padlet and my Padlet Randomizer. I’ll be doing a CanvasLIVE on javascript randomizers like this: Laura’s Widget Warehouse: Canvas-Friendly Javascripts.

Slide 27. A recap….

Slide 28. Five Key Mindset Concepts.

Slide 29. Five Design Strategies.

Slide 30. Five Canvas-Friendly Tools

Slide 31. Let’s connect!
And I’m glad to discuss and brainstorm about any and all of those things! You can reach me at Twitter: @OnlineCrsLady and at the Canvas Community where I’m now blogging regularly.

Slide 32. Get Involved…



Notes on YouTube Playlists

I wanted to write up some notes for a possible CanvasLIVE demo on working with YouTube Playlists, so I checked the Community to see who might have posted about this already, and I found a very useful post from Laura Joseph: Video killed my Canvas page. She discusses the power of playlists and also the very useful “start at” hack.

I also found this very useful page from Adam Williams: Embedding Content Using the Public Resources LTI. YouTube is indeed one of the resources you can embed that way, along with Vimeo, SchoolTube, Khan Academy, and Quizlet.

In this post, I’ll share my tips and tricks for working with YouTube playlists, starting with some examples of the kinds of playlists I use in my classes, and then some nitty-gritty how-to information about creating and maintaining playlists, and also about embedding videos and playlists in Canvas.

Why playlists? When you share videos in a playlist, it gives your students some learning context for what you are sharing, and it also gives them other videos to watch if/when they reach the end of the video that you are sharing. I try to only share videos in playlists; it doesn’t take any more time to share videos-in-playlists, and it really adds to the value!


Spring 2017 Announcements: I include a video in the announcements each day, and that builds up to a big playlist by the end of the semester. It also means that each day’s video in the announcements is connected to all the other videos of the semester. I embed this playlist in the sidebar of the announcements blog.

Growth Mindset and HEART: These are student success / motivational videos that are connected to the growth mindset and Learning by H.E.A.R.T. activities in my classes. I embed these videos in the sidebars of the blogs for these activities: Growth Mindset blog and H.E.A.R.T. blog.

Indian Music: I really like sharing music from India with my Indian Epics class, so I keep a big Indian Music playlist, and I also have dedicated playlists for some of my favorite artists like Maati Baani and Manish Vyas. The same videos can appear in multiple playlists so it’s easy to have big playlists and also more specialized lists too. You can see the Indian Music playlist in the sidebar of my Indian Epics Comics blog.

Epified Videobooks: An amazing resource for my Indian Epics class is the Epified Channel’s videobooks based on Devdutt Pattanaik’s “Seven Secrets” series for Hindu Calendar ArtVishnu, and the Goddess. You can see one of those playlists embedded here in my PAINT Canvas workshop: Calendar Art.


Creating a playlist. This is a tip I wrote up for my students. It covers how to create a playlist and add videos, and then how to share the playlist list and/or to embed the playlist in a blog. You can find lots more info at the YouTube Help page for Creating and Managing Playlists. You can even do collaborative playlists, although this is a feature I have not used myself. You can also build playlists that add new videos automatically, although again this is a feature I have not used myself.

Keeping playlists fresh. Some playlists you might want to keep fresh; that’s the case for my Indian Music playlist, for example. Other playlists might have static content that doesn’t change, like the Pattanaik videobooks. When you have a playlist that needs fresh content, you can add new videos… but you can also just recycle videos from the bottom of the playlist up to the top. To do that, hover over the time display for the video listing in the playlist, and then make it the thumbnail (if you want) and move it to the top of the playlist. When you do that, it refreshes the content of the playlist wherever it is embedded.


And now, last but not least, embedding YouTube playlists and playlist videos in Canvas! First, you need to ask yourself if you want to embed a video-in-a-playlist or if you want to embed a playlist.

When you embed a video-in-a-playlist, the video will display, along with controls that allow students to move backwards or forwards in the playlist. By default, when the current video finishes, the display will move on to the next video in the playlist.

When you embed a playlist, the top video in the playlist will be the video that plays. This means the content is dynamic; when you change the top video in the playlist, that will change the playlist display wherever you have the playlist embedded.

To embed a VIDEO, just click on the Share button you see underneath the video, and select Embed. You will see that you have some options to configure, including the size! See the iframe code in the box? That is what you will copy-and-paste into Canvas.

To embed a PLAYLIST, go to the Playlist page, click on the Share button there, and then Embed, and you will see the same type of dialogue box as for a video share. Just like with the videos, you can configure the playlist width and other options.

So, once you have got the iframe code, you can paste that into the HTML Editor view of a Canvas page. If you want to center the video, just type VIDEO or something like that, center it, and then you will know exactly where to paste the iframe code when you are looking at the HTML Editor view:

Beware the Canvas-Bot. Be warned: Canvas will offer to convert a YouTube link into an embedded video for you, but the results are pretty poor, as you can see from this comparison page: YouTube Playlists in Canvas. It’s easy to learn how to configure your own YouTube embedding and do that yourself instead of letting the Canvas-Bot do that for you. 🙂

So, that’s an overview of how I am using the amazing power of YouTube playlists in my classes. What about you? Share your stories, questions, and suggestions in the comments! 🙂