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Goodbye, Google! Part 2

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On Dec. 17, Xavier faculty and staff accounts will be migrated from Google to Microsoft.

Last week, I wrote about my experiments with Google's Takeout service (get it?) to move some (but not all) of the documents on my XULA Google Drive to my personal Google Drive. As I noted, Takeout works best, in my opinion, for very targetted exports and migrations. This week, I want to talk about a related but also separate concern: YouTube videos.

As you probably already know, Google owns YouTube. Xavier's switch to Google came not long after I embraced inverted teaching, often called flipping the classroom. I've been posting videos of lectures (20 minutes or more), mini-lectures (usually between 10 and 15 minutes), and micro-lectures (less than 10 minutes [ideally less than five minutes {according to Bart}]) for several years now and have over 100 on my YouTube channel. (Those definitions are my own, by the way.) So when I learned about our planned migration from Google to Microsoft, I worried about what would happen to my YouTube videos. My understanding is that our videos will not be removed from YouTube. Anything we have uploaded to our Xavier-based YouTube accounts will remain where it is, meaning it will be accessible and, if set as publicly accessible, included in any relevant search results. However, since my Xavier-based Google account will no longer be active, I won't be able to access those videos as the channel owner, meaning I won't be able to edit them or delete them. They will be frozen in cyberspace.

I'm not going to focus here on how I might continue posting videos for my students. Maybe that's a topic for another blog post (although I seem to be running out of time for all these blog post ideas). Instead, I will focus simply on how I plan on maintaining full control over the videos I have previously created and posted to YouTube. Once again, please remember: What follows are a few things I've tried out of personal concern and curiosity, things that I thought I would share with my colleagues, in case they have similar concerns. Just to be clear, CAT+FD is not involved in the Google to Microsoft migration, and we are not advising any actions by faculty and staff.

My concern with simply leaving my videos out there, frozen as it were, is that I would be giving up all control of those videos. The suggestion that leaving them up on YouTube will not be a problem seems to me rather dismissive of the idea of intellectual property. These are my videos. I don't want to lose the ability to edit or delete them.

Be sure to only select YouTube and YouTube Music for this go-around.

So, I will be deleting all of my YouTube videos before the final switch to Microsoft takes place in December. Before I do that, though, I will use Takeout to download all of those videos. To do that, I'll once again go to https://takeout.google.com (while logged into my XULA account). When prompted to Create a New Export, I'll click on the Deselect All button (since Google selects all the options by default (and there are a lot of options)) and scroll to the bottom of the list, where I will find the option for YouTube and YouTube Music. Clicking on the Multiple Formats option, gives me a long list of things that will be downloaded (Video media, Video metadata, History, Subscriptions, Playlists, etc), but Takeout doesn't give any options to change most of those formats. Clicking on the All YouTube Data Incuded button does give me a bunch of options (memberships, comments, etc.) but since I've only used my XULA Google account for uploading my class-related videos, I'm not going to bother changing any of these settings. Then, I'll click the Next Step button.

Most users will be fine leaving these settings on their defaults.

The next screen gives me the same options as I had when exporting files from Drive. How do you want to receive the download links? (Email should be fine.) How often do I want to run this export? (Only once.) What file type do I want the archives to arrive in? (If you don't know the different between a ZIP and a TGZ file is, leave this on ZIP.) What size do I want the archives limited to? (The default is 2 GB, which is a big download if you have slow internet service. The smaller the archive size, the more files you will have to download.) When I click the Create Export button, Takeout will begin grabbing all those files and data from YouTube and packaging them in 2 GB ZIP files.

I currently have 104 videos on YouTube. It took about 7 to receive the email with the download links. Google gives you only one week to download the archived files, so plan ahead. Once downloaded, I find that the archives include a variety of data, but what I'm most interested in are the videos themselves. Opening them, I have 104 MP4 files, a standard format for videos. I've also got some CSV (comma-separated values) files listing all my playlists and subscriptions, although, to be honest, I'm not sure what the point of downloading those is. Wherever I host these videos, I'll have to manually recreate any folder structure.

What I don't have is all the YouTube-specific metadata that was attached to these videos when they were sitting on YouTube's servers. For many, this won't really matter, but it's worth noting. If I upload these videos back to YouTube under a personal account, I'll have to re-enter all the information I had to enter the first time I uploaded them to YouTube: Title, Tags, Categories, Copyright, etc. It's all gone and will need to be redone. Also gone are the statistics about the video's useful on YouTube: likes, views, etc. Again, for many, this won't matter. In recent years, though, I've been reporting the number of views for some of my videos in my Faculty Update, though, as a way to demonstrate how my teaching methods are having any impact beyond Xavier. It's a nice, basic example of my personal commitment to making knowledge public.

I uploaded this Grammar Mini-lesson on February 24, 2016. Since then, it's been viewed over 13,000 times. If you do a video search on Google for "grammar restricted non-restricted", it is the second result, coming in after the video hosted by Purdue's OWL web site, arguably the most popular English-language writing resource site.

So there you go. I'll preserve the control over my videos by exporting them and then deleting them from my XULA YouTube account. Takeout has again made it fairly easy to download and save a specific set of materials from Google's rather expansive data cloud.

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About Jason S. Todd

Jay Todd studied writing with Frederick and Steven Barthelme and Mary Robison at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals. Since 2007, he has been a member of Department of English at Xavier, where he teaches American Literature, Freshman Composition, Modern English Grammars, and The Graphic Novel and Social Justice. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Todd served as Xavier's Writing Center Director. From 2010 until 2015, he served as QEP Director, managing Xavier's Read Today, Lead Tomorrow initiative. In 2015, he became the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development's first Associate Director for Programming. As Associate Director for Programming, Dr. Todd assists in providing high-quality, relevant, evidence-based programming in support of CAT+FD's mission to serve faculty across all career stages and areas of professional responsibility. You can follow him on Twitter at @jason_s_todd.

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