Thursday, July 12, 2018

YouTube Searches Favor Videos That Attack Public Education, Scholar Finds | EdSurge News

YouTube Searches Favor Videos That Attack Public Education, Scholar Finds | EdSurge News

YouTube Searches Favor Videos That Attack Public Education, Scholar Finds




When a scholar did a YouTube search for the term “public education” recently, the results painted a bleak picture of the nation’s schools and state colleges.
Among the top results: a slick animated video called “Problems in Public Education,” a rant arguing that all public education “kills creativity,” and a video essay titled “public ‘education’ has become indoctrination and distraction.” And that was just on the first page.

The researcher in question, Burhanettin Keskin, happens to be an education professor at the University of Mississippi, and so he decided to do an analysis of how public education is portrayed on YouTube.


His study, published in the peer-reviewed journal SAGE Open earlier this year, formalized what he had found in that initial search: that the majority of videos on the first few pages of searches for “public education” painted a negative view of the subject. “A substantial amount of these videos contained blunt attacks on public education,” Keskin writes in the paper.

The professor believes that YouTube’s search algorithm is favoring extreme views against education. And that, he worries, could be influencing internet users around the globe. As he concludes in the paper: “The severe negativity of such videos continues to pose barriers for teachers and public education overall.”

Keskin himself is a proponent, and a product, of public education. To avoid bias in his research, he had an independent coder rate the videos. And he made sure the YouTube searches were done without logging into a specific YouTube account and with a web browser whose history had been cleared.

The researcher notes that the exact nature of how YouTube’s algorithm works is a mystery, since Google, which owns YouTube, considers its workings a trade secret. It is also constantly changing, and results will likely vary for each user once they are logged in. But many of the videos that emerged in the professor’s research are clearly popular, with many of them attracting hundreds of thousands of views.
In an interview this week, Keskin notes that one of his goals is to call attention to how tech giants may be skewing the debate about all kinds of public-policy issues, including education.

“These big companies like Google—whether they know it or not—they shape and have an impact on the social construction of reality,” he says. “People say ‘it’s coding’ or ‘the algorithm does it,’ but it’s a not a neutral act.”

Others have raised similar questions about search algorithms. In a 2017 TED talk, “technosociologist” Zeynep Tufekci described her experience on YouTube, which she noticed was recommending increasingly extreme videos to her as she did her political-science research. As she watched videos of Trump rallies to write about them, for instance, suggestions on Continue reading: YouTube Searches Favor Videos That Attack Public Education, Scholar Finds | EdSurge News






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