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May 30 2013 - 08:00 PM
When it Comes to YouTube, What Should We Be Researching?
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Title: Research Priorities for YouTube and Video-Sharing Technologies: A Delphi Study

Authors: Chareen Snelson, Kerry Rice and Constance Wyzard

Source: British Journal of Educational Technology

Study Design: As of 2010, YouTube had bragging rights to 2 billion views per day. With such a massive global audience, the site has become an attractive outlet for scholars interested in understanding the learning opportunities and challenges associated with video-sharing services. As this body of scholarly literature is still in its infancy, prioritizing a future research agenda is necessary.

The authors of Research Priorities for YouTube and Video-Sharing Technologies: A Delphi Study used the Delphi Method to explore future research priorities. The Delphi Method is a three-stage process that begins by asking a panel of experts their thoughts on a particular issue. In this study, experts were asked, "What should be the research priorities in video-sharing technologies (particularly YouTube) over the next 5 years?" Their collective responses were organized into seven categories, and participants were then asked to rate each statement and the categories in order of importance. The cumulative results of the ratings were shared with the panel, and the Delphi process was complete when the panelists did a final round of re-rating the statements and categories.

To find a panel of YouTube experts, the authors of the study conducted a thorough literature review of refereed articles and conference papers that included the word ‘YouTube’ in the title. Of the 315 international scholars that emerged from this review, 35 had completed empirical research studies and/or contributed to theoretical discussions. These 35 scholars were invited to participate in the study; 17 agreed to participate and 14 completed all three stages.

Findings: The panel of experts collectively offered 63 statements when initially asked their thoughts on YouTube research priorities. Their responses were collapsed into 7 categories: (1) users, groups, and communities, (2) teaching/learning, (3) social/political impact, (4) video creation/production, (5) legal/ethical, (6) media management and (7) commercial interests. A plurality of statements fell under the teaching/learning category.

When it came to rating the importance of statements and categories, the panel felt that social context of video sharing was a top priority. Research in this area could answer questions such as why people post, what they watch and how video sharing brings users together. Next on the priority list was the impact of video-sharing technologies on teaching and learning. Experts felt it imperative to examine big questions, like the potential of video-sharing technologies to revolutionize education. But more specific questions were also on the research agenda, including effective instructional design techniques, and the potential of mobile devices to enhance collaborative asynchronous video learning environments.

Moving Forward: Thanks to digital technologies, the potential to share information and learn from one another through video is substantial. But to truly optimize the learning potential of video-sharing platforms, thoughtful and rigorous research must be conducted on how to effectively navigate video tools. It is important to keep in mind that the list is not exhaustive. Other, non-scholarly, video experts would probably produce a new list of equally relevant research directions. It would be interesting to do a similar study with a mix of different populations, such as teenagers who actively use YouTube, or non-academic loyal YouTube users.

Image: Logo (via YouTube).