The rise of technology in the past hundred years has seen an exponential growth and expansion of information and communication across previously-thought insurmountable barriers, like that of culture and distance. These barriers are now either in the process of being dismantled through the usage of online communication or have already been surmounted by other technologies. It is no wonder that many teachers and educators have taken to either using or producing educational videos in the classroom. In the fields of medicine, large institutions have created video series and uploaded them to YouTube for learning, teaching and training those entering the field of medicine, with a considerable amount of success (Rangarajan). These videos on Youtube are what would be considered to be “good” quality videos on YouTube, and are fit to serve the consumer well. But the majority of the videos on YouTube come from individual creators and not large corporations. In fact, the research shows that content posted on social media under the header of “Education” by individual entities had lead to a large spread of misinformation, and it is hard to control this spread because of the current struggles that the content identification systems on YouTube currently face. Despite this, there is a large amount of well-thought and researched content in the musical section of YouTube, who bear the hardships of the scrutiny of the system in order to provide content to their audiences.
As by nature of the majority of videos that are posted to the internet, a lot of unfiltered media seeps through that could be misleading, harmful, and downright false in their content. YouTube, as well as many other video platforms, have little control on what exactly gets uploaded to their platform. Indeed, Youtube does have a “Content ID” system, but it’s main function is to “allow copyright holders and content creators to detect possibly infringing videos” (Zapata-Kim 2). This helps major corporations find when their content is being used illegally, but it does only that: find illegally used content. Furthermore, errant claims can even remove someone’s channel from YouTube entirely (Bartholomew 8), even if they are within the rights of the law. While subtle, this drastically affects the ability to do well-researched and thought-out videos, and disincentivizes the creation of thought-provoking content. It would be difficult to imagine teaching mitosis in a biology class without pictures because the pictures were “protected under copyright.” While this might seem obvious that this falls under the doctrine of fair use, the Content ID system fails to consider this, and merely identifies content without considering its context. Even more importantly, there is no protocol in the content ID system that finds if a video is trustworthy or not. This leaves the entire YouTube community to be the arbiter of validity. Sure, a video might be truthful and well-researched, but who decides this? The audience? The speaker itself? The corporations making errant claims on videos? This situation is less than ideal, as it means that the decision of the veracity of the facts is left in the hands of people that often have conflicting ideals with each other.
As such, the majority of educational videos on YouTube can vary wildly, from well-produced and thought out content of high quality, to shabby, deceptive proclamations of mythical concepts that can delude even the savviest of individuals. This can be painfully seen in health-related content on YouTube. It is agreed that “Youtube is one of the major sources for health-related videos globally” (Kocyigit) in the health community, but the quality of these videos are often questionable. At a university in Turkey, one study assessed the quality of health videos across a specific topic within the community. The study found that the quality of videos ranged variably from high quality to low quality content videos. Furthermore, the study concluded that “The number of views, likes, dislikes, and comments per day should not be accepted as an indicator of quality for YouTube videos” (Kocyigit). Another study found that, for food allergies, “more than 1 in 4 (26.3%) food allergy-related videos on YouTube had misleading information” (Reddy 5), and concluded that “there is a need for high‐quality, evidence‐based, educational videos on food allerg[ies].” (Reddy 6). This is obviously very concerning for anybody wanting to seek out information from YouTube. With something as potentially serious as food allergies returning misleading information over a quarter of the time, and likes not providing a substantial indicator of quality, how can one distinguish from good and bad content?
Despite the poor representation that health-related content and even other sectors might find, a possible contrary is found in the flourishing online music education community of YouTube. Of course, Content ID does play a factor and commonly blocks or removes videos from music creators (Neely), but many still power through this, choosing to create content that may risk having their channel terminated (Neely). The majority of these videos are tutorials, with others falling into the categories of the broader topic It is also important to note that those that are creating music education videos are above or at university level and are taught by equally qualified individuals, and some even have proof to show for it. (Whitaker). This provides a glimmer of hope and a nice contrast from the gloomy pictures that the Content ID system and health-related videos might provide. Here we see those that care and love what they are doing, and will go out of their way to teach despite the Content ID system holding them. Despite this, there is growing concern with the quality of these videos amongst educators (Kirstin). As well, there is nothing to be found that assesses the quality of these educational videos. It is a requirement that further research be done into this topic to assess the validity of these videos. Nevertheless, the majority of major educators on YouTube, such as Adam Neely, David Bruce, and others, are all well accomplished musicians in their own right, and are unlikely to create facetious and misleading content.
YouTube brings the exciting technological opportunity for those looking to grow and audience and begin their teaching careers. However, as an indirect result of the Content ID system, the quality can often be questionable in these videos, especially in the health-related sector. On the contrary, music education videos on YouTube are very well researched, but there has yet to be seen an assessment of the quality of these videos. YouTube and other online related platforms should take steps to make sure that high quality educational videos are being posted to their website, and to ensure a high quality exchange of information between creator and user.
Rangarajan, Karan, et al. “Online Digital Media: The Uptake of YouTube-Based Digital Clinical Education (DCE).” American Journal of Distance Education, vol. 33, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 142–150. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08923647.2019.1582308.
ZAPATA-KIM, LAURA. “Should Youtube’s Content Id Be Liable for Misrepresentation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?” Boston College Law Review, vol. 57, no. 5, Nov. 2016, pp. 1847–1874. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=120126036&site=ehost-live.
BARTHOLOMEW, TAYLOR B. “The Death of Fair Use in Cyberspace: Youtube and the Problem with Content Id.” Duke Law & Technology Review, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 66–88. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=111206021&site=ehost-live.
Kocyigit, Burhan Fatih, and Mazlum Serdar Akaltun. “Does YouTube Provide High Quality Information? Assessment of Secukinumab Videos.” Rheumatology International, vol. 39, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 1263–1268. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s00296-019-04322-8.
Reddy, Keerthi, et al. “YouTube and Food Allergy: An Appraisal of the Educational Quality of Information.” Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, vol. 29, no. 4, June 2018, pp. 410–416. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/pai.12885.
Neely, Adam, director. What I Want to Teach, but Can’t, Thanks to Universal Music Group. YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=nryFmUjtwEY.
Dougan, Kirstin. “‘YouTube Has Changed Everything’? Music Faculty, Librarians, and Their Use and Perceptions of YouTube.” College & Research Libraries, vol. 75, no. 4, July 2014, pp. 575–589. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5860/crl.75.4.575.
Whitaker, Jennifer A., et al. “Characteristics of ‘Music Education’ Videos Posted on YouTube.” UPDATE: Applications of Research in Music Education, vol. 33, no. 1, Nov. 2014, pp. 49–56. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/8755123314540662.