Gil Scott Heron claimed that, "the revolution will not be televised." I agree, but this assertion was made well before YouTube. The democratization of the media has made it possible to broadcast the revolution. Though GE might not make a habit of informing the masses about abuses by the man, a video of police brutality can reach millions almost instantly and force the hand of the mainstream media. In St. George, MO an officer was caught on video threatening to jail an individual on false charges. Once posted to the internet and pick up by local media, an investigation was initiated.
Granted there are still many hours of useless video residing at YouTube (I should know I have posted some of it), but since its purchase by Google is has been gradually inching its way to legitimacy. In conjunction with CNN it has become a part of the 2008 election campaign. Users were invited to pose question via YouTube and the best of those questions were posed to the candidates.
Why then do a majority of schools still block access? For any tech savvy teacher there are ways around this problem. There are web tools that will allow you to download streaming video and free converters to allow you to put it in almost any format you desire. However, as we all know, the number of teachers with the expertise, patiences, and time to do this is limited.
I have long advocated web access to almost all but the most obscene sites. How are we to teach students to be citizens if we deny them access to the community? YouTube is only the beginning. Open the playground and let the experimenting begin. Denying students access to the web is not just annoying, but it is criminal.