Reflection on the use of social media, video, animation, research methods and literature reviews through a discussion and analysis of, Public comment sentiment on educational videos: Understanding the effects of presenter gender, video format, threading, and moderation on YouTube TED talk comments”. Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., Larsen, R., Dousay, T. A., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). 

The topics and research reviewed this week led me to a discussion of this paper as I made connections with the ideas presented and discovered applications that would be useful in guiding my future research as well as current teaching practices. In addition to this, this paper reflected specific topics presented and discussed throughout course discourse this week, leading me to the belief that it would be particularly useful and relevant to discuss multiple aspects of this research.

We were able to have a face to face visit with one of the authors of this paper, George Veletsianos. The visit was beneficial in many ways as we were given the opportunity to engage with him regarding his research through questions and discussions. When discussing the 4 R’s this is directly relevant as it gave insight into who George is a researcher and what has led him to become involved in the work he does. According to his “About Me” page on his blog, one of the larger influences for his work was his parents’ direct experiences with war and their beliefs in education. Veletsianos shared as part of class discourse how within his research he wants to know people and hear their stories. “My research aims to understand and improve teaching, learning, and participation in digital environments” (Veletsianos.com/About Me).  This study does exactly that.

In the introduction, Veletsianos et al (2018) reviewed current literature to provide background research justifying why this study was important and needed.  The discussion of relevant literature led to the conclusion that there was a gap in the research and this experiment was justified in that manner. As a reader, I found this literature review to be interesting in a new way as I was now reading through it with a deepened understanding of what a literature review was. 

After exposing this gap, their research object was stated as follows.

“To investigate these issues, we examined the strength of positive and negative sentiment expressed in response to TEDx and TED-Ed talks posted on YouTube (n = 655), the effect of several variables on comment and reply sentiment (n = 774,939), and the projected effects that sentiment-based moderation would have had on posted content.” (Veletsianos et al,.2018)

The importance of this research is discussed in a practical manner as more and more students, teachers and others are encouraged to go online and to build online digital identities. Further research that outlines these ideas as well as a discussion around the practical implications and application of the findings of this study are discussed. Based on discussions and topics covered this week in class regarding Twitter, Blogging, using social media in the classroom and creating professional online digital identities; I agree, this research and future connected research is needed.  

Sentiment is the topic [term] primarily under investigation for this study and as such Veletsianos et al (2018) spend time discussing the term so the reader is familiar with it. In addition to the discussion of sentiment,  Veletsianos et al, (2018) go on to explore the concept of moderation in depth. Again, as a reader, I am connecting to the literature that is reviewed through these sections.

……I wonder why people choose to post negative comments, I wonder why these begat further negative comments, I wonder about the ease with which one person can post a comment that can make or break another human, I wonder about the disassociation with humanity, the lack of kindness/of thoughtfulness, and then I wonder about the rich and deep connections people build…..

This literature review gives an overview of some of the current and past research associated with both sentiment and moderation as well as some of the general findings resulting from this research further establishing the necessity of the research they are conducting. This is important because it not only gives the reader (myself, and other educators, researchers) a broader understanding of the terms, it also addresses connected and relevant research.

The research investigated Ted-X and Ted-ed talks and resulting comments to answer their research questions. Those researched were not directly impacted in anyway; only data they had posted or responded to was included; personal interviews, questionnaires or any other form of communications with those involved was not a part of this study.  Interestingly, this contrasts with another Veletsianos study we investigated this week: Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse: Self-protection, resistance, acceptance, and self-blame by George Veletsianos, Shandell Houlden, Jaigris Hodson and Chandell Gosse. This study focused on a small group of participants who were interviewed individually.  In this study, both the researcher and the researched would have been impacted through their participation in these interviews. For the researchers, conducting this research may have provided a sense of connection with these women and a deeper understanding of the issues they had faced/were facing. It may have impacted them on an emotional/personal level. For those researched, the interviews may have become a coping skill itself as their voices are heard (their stories are important) or it may have been therapeutic or may have created further anxiety. Given Veletsianos’s background information as well as insights gained in class, I am curious about his experiences with both studies as the research methodology differed.  I am also curious about whether the unknowing participants of the Ted-X and Ted-ed study would have been affected had the result of this study been shared with them. What, if anything would they change going forward? This would be interesting to explore further.

 Within this study, justification is given for using only Ted-x and Ted- ed talks; however, I do find it to be a limiting factor as they look at only one type of video and arguably, one type of audience. The three research questions for this study were then given:

RQ1. What is the strength of positive and negative sentiment in response to TEDx and TED-Ed Talks posted on YouTube?

RQ2. How does the gender of the video presenter, the delivery format (presentation vs. animation),

and comment threading influence the sentiment of comments and subsequent replies?

RQ3. What would be the likely impact of moderating negative comments upon community participation?

One thing I wondered about these questions is: Are three questions too many to address within a piece of research? Does it make more sense or is it more appropriate to delve deeply into one question? It makes some sagacity to include the first two questions are they are explicitly connected. I do wonder about the reasoning and validity of including the third question as this seems to begat its own study.

My other question, as mentioned previously, was the limiting factor of only using one type of video for the study. I questioned whether it had to do with the amount of data being analyzed but upon further examination of the methods of analyzing the data I noticed that they used a piece of statistical software called “SentiStrength”. “We then generated sentiment scores for all comments and replies in the dataset, by using the open source sentiment analysis tool SentiStrength” (Veletsianos et al., 2018). According to http://sentistrength.wlv.ac.uk/, SentiStrength is capable of analyzingup to 16,000 social web texts per second with up to human level accuracy for English”. In this case, why not analyze a larger data set that includes multiple types of educational videos? Perhaps this had to do with the manual coding that also took place as well as the fact that they were examining both quantitative and qualitative data. This limitation was addressed within their study leading me to the belief that the researchers felt, that despite this limitation, the study would still provide valuable information. Upon reading through their results, I would agree.

 The results of their study are listed below:

1.      Overall, comments and replies were categorized as neutral.

2.      Some video topics were more likely to lead to positive comments and replies (beauty, passion, career) and some were more likely to lead to negative comments and replies (cancer, college, pain).

3.      Male presenters were more likely to receive neutral comments and replies.

4.      Female presenters were more likely to receive positive and negative replies.

5.      “Animations neutralized both the negativity and positivity of replies at a very high rate” 

6.      Positive responses were more likely to lead to further positive responses. The same was true for negative responses.

7.      Comment moderation did not significantly reduce negative responses.

The conclusions went on to discuss each found phenomena in further detail along with potential applications and a call for more research in some of these areas. These results, as the reader and an educator impacted me in multiple ways.  I was surprised, especially given pre-existing research, that the results found for comments overall were categorized as neutral overall. I wonder if the researchers had chosen to view multiple types of educational videos, if these results would be the same. I also wonder, if other educational videos were examined, perhaps the same results would be found as it may be that all educational videos would have the same specific type of viewer. I found the results regarding topics interesting. This could lead to a greater understanding of what topics may cause negative or positive responses within the classroom OR when educational videos are viewed. The information regarding gender is applicable in many ways, both as a female venturing into the online world …..this can feel scary at times…. and as a teacher with both male and female students. It is important to understand that online experiences for males and females is not the same. It is also important to remember that social media as a tool can be both a positive and a negative experience. This reminds me of a recent twitter feed post:

Relevant read from this week’s classes. #tiegrad @veletsianos @ChristineYH
This is important. When I teach about academic blogging now, I highlight the benefits of social media but also mention the drawbacks and make it clear that no one should feel obliged to engage with social media. #femedtech twitter.com/KAMWright/stat…

 

I think this post contains vital information. It is so very important to remember that no one should feel obliged to engage with social media.  I view this idea with a new lens now as recently, as a result of discussions and readings in class, I had begun thinking of the ways I could incorporate social media in my blended and online classes as a means to engage, promote discussion and community within the online learning environment.  Keeping this idea close as I begin to explore the use of social media in my classes is very important. This also connects to concepts and ideas presented this week in class through both the readings on privacy and through the information shared by the guest speaker Jesse Miller from Mediated Reality

One idea for application that arose as part of this study is student use of animations to share information rather than a video or live presentation of themselves. This eliminates the male/female phenomena and, according to research presented as part of this study, also creates anonymity which can increase overall participation. This would benefit the student as they would be given a voice. This would benefit other students in the class as they would have new ideas to listen to.  And with that I circle back to my thoughts at the beginning and my purpose for writing; that of knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Education is power.  

Media, Social Media, Apps, Social Network, Facebook

Image from Pixabay