Tiktok Turns To Education

Tiktok has a new strategic direction, it’s turning to education! With its popularity sky rocketing during the lockdown, the company can now plan for its captive audience. Taking a journey like that of YouTube, which started off from viral videos before adopting a more structured approach, the tech giant is now embarking on a program called “learn on Tiktok.”  As reported, last week on BBC “click”, this strategic decision has already attracted notable partnerships with names like Cambridge and the charity English heritage coming to the fore.

The writing is on the wall. Those that must come to the classroom, must make it exciting and motivating.  The platform would like to explore stories that will not only matter to the young people but that will help them with life skills.  As Tiktok online opens to learning with fun, it’s time that traditionally modelled learning structures woke up and smelt the coffee. Times have changed and there is need for a robust response as Tiktok downloads find themselves streaming into the educational sector.

Indeed, what has happened in recent times has been phenomenal. With greater numbers turning to Tiktok for entertainment and socialization, discerning investors especially in the education sector must seize the immense opportunities available to engage with such a huge audience.  A June report from CNBC stated that Tiktok could even be the place to learn about managing your money. The good news is that most of the Tiktok online viewers are the young people who will be happy that learning and having fun are no longer mutually exclusive, thanks to Tiktok.

The platform is offering an exciting pointer and reminder to how students learn which has been at the canter of discussions for years. Susan Ambrose and four of her colleagues published How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching in 2010, to much critical acclaim. Ambrose, who is a Senior Vice Provost at Northeastern University, gave an overview of the seven principles which included motivation as one area vital to sustaining learning.

Growth of Tiktok

According to Wikipedia, Tiktok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. ByteDance first launched Douyin for the China market in September 2016.

As a social media app, it allows users to create, promote, and react to short-form music video content. Tiktok users have been using the app to create videos of themselves dancing, acting and exercising to audio clips and sharing it with their friends. The concept has proved immensely popular. According to official company announcements, Tiktok has over 500 million monthly users, and has been downloaded from the Google Play store over 1 billion times.

While millions of people have lost their jobs, a lucky few are just starting to build what they hope might be lucrative careers in entertainment. The good news is that the door has not yet been closed. If you are an educator you can seize the opportunities inherent in the platform as well.

Seizing the opportunity

As the coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for Tiktok, the users who’ve taken advantage of it became “quarantine famous,” and one kid who created a series of elaborate reality show parody videos, said “all the opportunities that I dreamed of are suddenly like, at my fingertips.”  It is such stories that made the bosses at Tiktok ask themselves, why not extend to education as well?

It’s a widely held view that the use of online learning tools and open-source educational resources have been known to increase productivity and accelerate learning rates. In fact, they also reduce costs linked to program delivery and instructional material. So it is easy to see why Tiktok is taking this giant strategic step. Even the US Department of Education recognizes the need to blending online learning with school-based instruction “so as to accommodate students’ diverse learning styles.” It acknowledges that the use of technology has made fundamental structural changes that helps students attain significant improvements. The department further says that the tools available reinforce experiences, expand course offerings, and keep students’ perceptions wide and diversified while at the same time boosting motivation and engagement. In short, the flexibility of teaching methods using digital platforms enhances learning.

When the coronavirus spread and people changed the way they interacted, they found themselves engaged as communities through the prism of technology. Digital apps like Zoom and Tiktok took center stage. Today their use is expanding and promising. Now even Tiktok, despite being a short-form mobile video platform, will be adapted strategically to get structured learning outcomes. Of course, this perfectly fits into its mission where it aims not only to inspire creativity but also bring joy.  Next time when people create a Tiktok account online, it won’t only be strictly for fun but a learning experience as well.


Online Shopping Surges During Pandemic

Since the coronavirus pandemic began this year, there have been 13 straight weeks where more than 1 million people have filed for unemployment for the first time in the US, according to the recent article from the Washington Post. Analysts said the weekly numbers point to steep challenges the country faces in its recovery. For most people looking for a way out, one of the tips on how to survive the coronavirus pandemic has to be identification of opportunities available despite the current headwinds.  Unsurprisingly, the online retail market has offered a silver lining in this dark cloud.

The pandemic has driven a significant acceleration in online grocery sales. In the US, in sharp contrast to the overall U.S. retail market results ending Q1, down 2.9% for the 13 weeks ending May 2, there was solid performance by Walmart driven by grocery, essential goods and strong digital commerce. According to a Forbes report, Walmart’s net sales increased by 10.5%, with e-commerce sales up 74% as stated in the investor call on 18th May, 2020.

“Despite a tumultuous Q1 for many companies, the coronavirus created a huge opportunity for Walmart to capture market share,” said Kunal Chopra, CEO of etailz.

Across the Atlantic, in the UK, the BBC also reported, this month, that London-based courier business Gophr had just seen its busiest ever two months as more people got a taste for online shopping. Global retail sales generated through E-commerce saw a drastic surge as consumers turned to online and mobile shopping to buy groceries, daily necessities, and other products.

In the meantime, British online supermarket Ocado plans to raise over 1 billion ($1.3 billion) in capital, enhancing its online delivery services as people in the UK continue to shop more from the comfort of their homes. In a yet another June article, the Business Insider reported that the chain stated that the coronavirus pandemic had driven a significant acceleration in online grocery sales which had made way for a “permanent redrawing” of the global grocery industry.

47% of existing online shoppers in Europe have increased their online grocery purchases since COVID-19 and are expected to continue, Ocado was reportedly to have said, citing data compiled over four weeks to May 16 by analytics firm Nielsen.

The group said UK online market penetration had reached 9% in May 2020, compared to just 7% last year before the coronavirus struck. The grocery chain already has a bunch of licensing deals with nine partners including US supermarket giant Kroger, Japan retailer Aeon, Australia’s second-largest grocery Coles, Groupe Casino in France, and Sobeys in Canada. In May, the chain said its retail sales were up 40.4% in its second quarter compared to the previous year.

While there was significantly positive news in the online retail front, some segments, including travel and airlines, experienced a severe downturn due to COVID-19 in both online and offline channels. Online travel agencies such as Booking Holdings, Expedia Group, and Airbnb saw weekly accommodation bookings plummet by over -90% during April 2020.

Digital and contactless payment methods rise amid the COVID-19 outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak is not only transforming the way consumers shop but also how they pay for their purchases. Contactless payments received an unprecedented boost during the pandemic, seen by consumers as a cleaner way to pay in-store. Consumers are also trying out new payment methods while purchasing from E-commerce websites, and favour those methods that have the strongest protection against fraud losses.

Reduced Momentum

The momentum for online retail sales may not be sustained at the current levels as a new study, just released by Chain Store Age, contains some good news for brick-and-mortar retailers.

According to a survey of more than 18,000 consumers from shopping rewards app Shopkick, about three-quarters (73%) of respondents say they feel equally or less concerned about COVID-19 than in May. And in a May Shopkick survey, 82% of respondents said the pandemic was affecting how they shop and now that statistic has dropped to 70%.

Looking ahead, the survey found that although 48% of respondents say they are shopping online more frequently than one month prior, 65% still plan to make most of their summer purchases in-store. Consumers say they plan to spend most of their summer shopping budget on groceries (41%), home improvement projects (27%), vacations (10%), recreation and outdoor activities (7%), clothing and apparel (6%), back-to-school preparations (4%), and summer camps (1%).