YouTube is a free social media website that allows its users to view, upload and comment on videos. It is a place where users can share their video with any web user. Users who are not registered with YouTube are permitted to view videos, while registered users are able to upload an unlimited number of videos to the site. Most of the content uploaded to YouTube is by individuals however, some videos are added by professional media companies. YouTube is accessible via the following link

History and Background of YouTube

YouTube was founded in February of 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim in a garage in Menlo Park, California[1] . By November 2005, YouTube received funding from Sequoia Capital, which is a company that invests in start-ups. The site became an online phenomenon and in March 2006, 25 million videos were available for viewing. In November 2006 was purchased by Google Inc for 1.65 billion[2] . Since then, YouTube has become not only a video website, but a community of users who upload 20 hours of videos a minute[3] . For additional information about YouTube, play the video below.


Key Functionalities of YouTube

The free social media site, YouTube, is filled with valuable features and functions. Below is the listing of the most important functions of YouTube and a brief description about how to use them.


Unlike many other sites, YouTube is free for viewer and registered users that want to upload videos. To create an account you will need to come up with a username and provide basic information about your geographic location. Once an account is created you are free to upload videos anytime. By logging into your account you have the option to review all of your uploaded videos, review the history of videos you have seen, view any subscriptions you may have added and have the option to view any video you have marked as a favorite or on your playlist.


YouTube consist of a number of ways that a registered or an unregistered user can search for videos. The simplest and quickest way to search for videos is using the search box located at the top of the homepage. Simply adding key search terms and clicking the Search button will produce a listing of videos which can be played one at a time.

Another way to locate videos is to search by category. Clicking the videos section of the homepage displays a listing of categories which you can browse, for instance, education, comedy or sports to name a few. By selecting a category, you are narrowing down the search to videos that have been tagged with corresponding text[5] .

Another search option can be to use the channel feature displayed on the YouTube homepage. The channel section allows you to not only select a category but within a category select a specific channel. Selecting that channel will display not only the selected video within the topic but also any videos that are match that subject. For instance, you can select the category: news and politics. Within the news and politics category you can choose to view Russia Today channel. Within the Russia Channel page you will see the latest video but also any other video broadcasted by the Russia Today channel.

The last basic searching option on YouTube allows you to search by shows specifically. The shows section has a specific categories for instance the Documentary and Biography categories may be useful for you in your search.

An advanced search is also available within YouTube for registered users only.


Just like any other video viewing product, the video player has a play and a pause button. The audio of the video can be adjusted as well. The size of the video can be adjusted to full screen, a large screen on the page or a standard screen that is seen by default on the webpage. Videos shot in high definition mode have the option to be viewed in HD mode, allowing for better viewing quality[6] . Once the video is done playing, you have the option to replay the video or view others like it.

When a specific video is viewed, a section of the page is dedicated to viewing videos that are similar to the one being played. The related video section of the page will display them with image and title of the videos. You also have the option to view all videos posted by a specific user or channel.

Rate and Comment

Each video on YouTube is subject to a one to five star rating scale ranging from Poor to Awesome! You can rate it based on your liking or disliking of the video. Additionally, you can choose to add a comment to be displayed below the video for all to see. In order to rate the video or comment on it, you must be logged into your account.

Within the comment section you can choose to to reply to someone's remark on the specific video. You can also choose to agree or disagree with the remarks/comments made by other users by using the thumbs up and thumbs down icons. If a specific comment appears to be spam, you can choose to mark it so that it can be hidden on the page.


The videos can also be stored for personal reference later, in order to use this feature of the page you must be logged into your account. To store the video for easy access, you can chose to mark the video as your Favorite. Once marked as a Favorite, you may view it anytime you log into your account. You can also choose to add the video to your playlist making it easily accessible as well as providing the capability to view a list of videos in sequence and one after another instead of one at a time. Finally, you may also choose to subscribe to a user's videos or a channel. Subscriptions allow you to view all the videos for that user or specified channel in your subscription section. It also allows you to quickly review any new videos added by the user or channel.

Flagging a video would allow you to mark it as an item that may be seen as inappropriate or that violate YouTube's Community Guidelines. This features allows you to submit the video for review to the YouTube staff.


You must be a registered user of YouTube to upload videos. You can upload videos from you computer or your mobile phone. As long as the videos do not violate copyright laws, the videos can be personal or created by your organization. The videos can be shot at your computer using a webcam, using your mobile device and uploaded directly to YouTube provided you have internet connectivity or using your camera and then uploaded to your computer and then YouTube. When uploading the video, you can choose to make it public or private.

You may upload a video that match the following criteria:

  • Capture and Upload in High Definition
  • Upload up to 10 videos at a time
  • Best video formats[7] for YouTube
  • Up to 2 GB in size
  • Up to 10 minutes in length[8]

It is important to note that you should not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts, or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself.

A good reference for copyright information can be found on YouTube's Copyright Tips page [9] and YouTube's Community Guidelines [10] which can help you determine whether your video infringes someone else's copyright.


You can choose to share the video easily with others using various social websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Bebo, hi5, Live Spaces, and Orkut with a built in sharing feature. YouTube also has the option to AutoShare which will post the video to a number of social sites simultaneously. You may also chose to share the video via email directly from the YouTube site or via instant messaging by providing the preset link to the video.

Embedding a YouTube video is simple as the embedded code is provided for every video displayed on YouTube. You may embed the video into any website, wiki, or blog using the provided code. YouTube allows you to decide the size of the embedded video and the skin color of the video controls. There are also privacy setting that can be selected using the embed feature.

Examples of YouTube in the government sector

YouTube can be used for personal use, however, many government agencies are beginning to use this tool as a way to communicate with the public. Below are some examples of sites that are currently being used in the government.

The U.S. Senate Channel and The U.S. House of Representatives Channel

The Senate and House of Representative channels provide the public with the ability to view videos produced by the respective agencies. The channels page contain a U.S. map and every state senator's or representative's page linked to the respective state on the map. These YouTube sites/channels are designed for constituents who want to engage with their elected senator. These channels can be found by going to the following links:

U. S. Department of State Channel

The Department of State Channel provides the public with the ability to view official videos produced by the State Department. Videos include comments made by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, daily press briefings, videos on foreign policy and candid interviews of U.S. diplomats. The channel can be found by going to the following link:

Advantages and Disadvantages of YouTube

As you are learning about YouTube you may be wondering why one would use this tool and what are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing videos online. Below is a list of YouTube’s advantages and drawbacks.


  • It’s free – as previously mentioned, YouTube is free for user to search, view and upload videos
  • Easy to use – as long as you are able to record a video, you are easily able to upload videos onto the site
  • Searching is easy – YouTube has a powerful search engine making it easy to locate your video if tagged accurately
  • Sharable – YouTube videos can be easily shared with anyone over a social website or email
  • Audience - YouTube is access by a wide audience, the site has its own audience as well as users who just browse
  • Built-in technical support - the site has easily accessible technical support[11]


  • Inability to restrict viewing - YouTube videos are available to members and non-members of YouTube, there is no way to resctrict viewership to individuals within a certain network or the United States for instance
  • Limited Information Sharing – due to the inability to restrict access to the videos, you have to be careful about how much information to disclose
  • Time limit – as previously discussed, videos can only be up to 10mins long
  • Low Quality – although there are HD quality recordings and displaying capabilities, due to videos being optimized for fast streaming, some quality is lost in picture and sound
  • Logo – YouTube automatically adds their logo to your uploaded video[12]

Activities and Assessment


The WebQuest portion of this page is dedicated to individual and group exploration of YouTube. The suggested activities are listed below, however, you may choose to explore additional aspects of YouTube after you do individual research.

Phase 1: Create an account
To register for an account, go to and sign up.

Phase 2: Explore
After registering, explore the account settings and options and modify them according to your preference. Briefly review YouTube's Copyright Tips page and YouTube's Community Guidelines.

Phase 3: As a group, complete the following tasks
  1. Search for a few videos or review channels related to your organization(s)
  2. Rate and comment on at least 3 of the videos
  3. Subscribe to a channel related to your organization
  4. Create and upload a video created by your group on work related subject or on how YouTube is or would be used in your organization
  5. Share your video with other groups using a social site, email and attempt to embed it into another site (such as a blog or a wiki)

Phase 4: Discuss your Experience: Personal reflection
In 300 words or less, discuss your YouTube experience, what you liked/disliked about it and name at least one example of how you would use YouTube (or would like to see YouTube being used) in your workplace. Post your response to the discussion board using the following format as the subject of the post: [your name] YouTube WebQuest.

Discussion Board

Use the discussion board to post your responses to your WebQuest as well post any questions that you may have about YouTube or this course. As a discussion board user, don’t hesitate to provide comments or responses to users postings. Follow this link to view the discussion board.


To assess your knowledge on YouTube, click here to take a quiz.

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