Tiktok Turns To Education

Tiktok has a new strategic direction, it’s turning to education! With its popularity skyrocketing 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 modeled learning structures woke up and smelt the coffee. Times have changed and there is a 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 blend 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 help 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 to 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.