If you aren’t already using YouTube to expand your mind and learn new skills, it’s time for you to catch up. There’s so much free knowledge available out there. Why not take advantage of it?
Want to learn a musical instrument? How about learning how to draw? For the handyman there are tutorials on DIY basics and for the code-minded there are computer programming lessons. If you feel like building your skills and knowledge, YouTube will always have some great starter videos.
But the YouTube interface is not always conducive to study and learning. Presumably, it’s been designed to distract you so that you’re constantly clicking from video to video. Here are some tips to clean up YouTube and get the most out of it.
Finding Educational Channels
YouTube is massive. There are billions of videos to sift through, making it difficult to separate the quality videos from the not-so-quality ones. We only have so much free time in the day — who wants to spend hours browsing through dirt for the occasional gem?
Some of our recommendations can get you started on the right foot. Check out some of the best general education channels, science channels, sex education channels, and a few finance channels. That’s just scratching the surface.
One interesting place to look is YouTube EDU, a YouTube-sanctioned channel that delivers free lessons and courses by top educators from around the world. From academic lectures to inspirational speeches, all videos are categorized for stress-free browsing.
But the best thing to do is to compile videos into learning playlists. Not only do playlists keep the material organized and easy to follow, they prime you for deliberate practice, a technique that every learner should internalize.
There are few things more distracting on YouTube than the comments section. No matter how many times it undergoes renovation, it always seems to attract the worst trolls from the deepest Internet caves. Fortunately, with ViewPure, that’s no longer an issue.
You can use it in two ways:
- Go to ViewPure and paste in a YouTube URL
- Create a “Purify” bookmarklet that you can click while browsing YouTube.
Instructions for both are on the site. Purifying a URL lets you watch the video without any comments, related videos, or advertisements.
Taking Notes On Each Video
How useful would it be if you could take notes on a per-video basis? YouTube doesn’t provide innate functionality for that, which means we need to keep a separate set of asynchronous notes — a process that’s both annoying and prone to errors. That’s where VideoNotes comes in handy.
Opening a YouTube video through VideoNotes provides you with a side-by-side text editor that you can use to write and store time-synced notes for that video. These notes can be saved with Google Drive, which means they’ll be accessible from anywhere. Piggybacking on Google Drive also makes it just the right fit for collaborative learning with your friends.
Unblocking YouTube Videos
One big annoyance with YouTube is the dreaded region block. Most channels that offer educational resources won’t lock their content behind such a wall. But in case it does happen, you should know that there are legal methods of unblocking a region-blocked video.
The easiest way to bypass the regional filter is to use a proxy website that handles the details for you. For example, with Unblock YouTube, all you have to do is paste in the URL of the YouTube video and the site will perform its magic behind the scenes.
But a better solution would be to install a browser extension designed to unblock these videos. There are several from which you can choose:
- YouTube Unblocker [Firefox, Chrome, Opera]
- ProxMate [Firefox, Chrome]
- Hola Unblocker [Firefox, Chrome]
- ProxTube [Chrome]
These tools work by routing the YouTube video request through a proxy service, which makes it appear as if the end user (you) is from a different country. If all of the proxy service regions are blocked then these tools won’t work, but that shouldn’t happen very often.
Installing YouTube Center
Perhaps YouTube is incredibly distracting and you want to cull those distractions without having to rely on an external tool (such as ViewPure). What can you do? Have no fear because there’s a certain browser extension that will transform your YouTube experience.
It’s called YouTube Center, which is available on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and more.
This extension is packed full of features that not only clean up the messy YouTube interface but introduce extra functionality. It comes with dozens of options that you can tweak to customize YouTube to your preferences. This is what vanilla YouTube ought to be.
What can you do with it?
- Remove advertisements.
- Alter various layout options to change up YouTube’s interface.
- Alter various behavior options for the video player and playlists.
- “Lights Off” mode that darkens everything but the video when playing.
- Easy one-click downloading of videos.
These distraction removal features combined with added functionality can really help to create an environment that makes it easier to focus and learn.
Your YouTube Tips
We all have our own personal tricks and tips for improving our productivity when using YouTube. What are yours? How do you minimize YouTube distractions and maximize your productivity? Share your advice and thoughts with us below!
Image Credits: Education Via Shutterstock
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