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Mar 23 2014 - 08:00 PM
YouTube: Where the Heart Is

Title: How useful is YouTube in learning heart anatomy? (2014)

Authors: Athanasios Raikos & Pasan Waidyasekara

Source: Anatomical Sciences Education

Research Question: Is YouTube an effective teaching tool for medical education?

Study Design: Medical education has long used visual teaching strategies like observed dissections, anatomically accurate models, and media-based textbooks. Video has recently become a part of this traditional field along with self-directed learning and new teaching methods such as classroom flipping. The authors of How useful is YouTube in learning heart anatomy? took stock of the quality of YouTube videos for instruction. Their intended audience is medical students, but this survey has implications for the quality of other types of instructional videos on the site.

The initial searches revealed 55,525 videos, but of these only 294 videos qualified for further analysis. The researchers chose only videos that were intended for instruction and dealt with human, rather than animal, anatomy. The authors first scored the videos for anatomical content; to earn a passing score, videos had to present an anatomically complete description of the position of the heart, the parts of the organ, and its interaction with other body systems. The videos were then evaluated for the general quality and accuracy of the information. Finally, the videos were coded for instruction type, materials used, duration, upload date, number of views, average daily views, and opinions (likes and dislikes) submitted by YouTube users.

Findings: The selected videos had a combined 2,023,420 views. The examination revealed that plastic models were the most popular instruction strategy, appearing in 54.4% of videos, and that these videos had the most likes and most views. Lectures represented 12.9% of the videos and had the most dislikes and lowest views. Videos featuring cadaveric content represented 20.9% of videos; these were often more accurate but had lower views than the plastic model videos.

Moving Forward: Since the launch of YouTube in February 2005, the number of human heart anatomy videos on the site has increased exponentially every year. This upload trend can also be seen in general uploads to the YouTube site; at present 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Steaming video has become central to both self-driven and classroom based education and this research is an important investigation into the accuracy of a tool many students and educators are already using. The authors identified issues with content and description on the site. Many highly accurate videos had low views because they lacked descriptive metadata or featured cadavers. (The authors theorized that cadaver-based videos were avoided by younger users who lacked medical training.) The authors were able to find quality content on the site, but had to sift through many off-topic and inaccurate videos. The flashiest videos and videos with the most views were often not the most accurate.

Image: Banksy - Peaceful Hearts Doctor by Eva Blue via Flickr