Gen Z students

Don’t Knock TikTok (Yet): Lessons from Livestream Content

The rapid rise of livestream content development and consumption has been nothing short of remarkable. According to Ceci (2022), 126.7 million users in the United States viewed livestreaming content on mobile devices in 2019; the same year, 23 percent of Americans livestreamed content themselves. In

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Move Over, Millennials . . . It’s Gen Z’s Classroom Now

As educators, we need to recognize the difference between the Gen Z students of today and the millennial students of a few years ago. The Pew Research Center designated the last birth year for millennials as 1996. The oldest members of Gen Z, born in

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What Can YouTube Teach You about Creating Videos for Students?

A national survey found that Generation Z students (defined as those born between 1995 and 2012) ranked YouTube as their favorite learning tool (Overland, 2018). Yet many instructors think to themselves, “There is no way I could create videos like the professionals.” The good news

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The rapid rise of livestream content development and consumption has been nothing short of remarkable. According to Ceci (2022), 126.7 million users in the United States viewed livestreaming content on mobile devices in 2019; the same year, 23 percent of Americans livestreamed content themselves. In other words, a vast segment of the US population finds livestream content valuable to both consume and create. Not surprisingly, Gen Z students are heavy livestream users (Huang, 2022). Considering the sheer popularity of livestreaming platforms, especially among those of traditional college age, educators should pay attention to these phenomena and even try to garner a few teaching strategies that may align with livestream content.

Recently, the three of us conducted a study measuring motivations, information behaviors, and perceived credibility differences between livestreaming video and prerecorded videos on social media (Rubenking et al., 2023). Without digging too deeply into the results, we found, first, that our 369 participants—all aged 18–24—generally consumed non-live content more than live videos when they were targeting information-based content. Second, participants found edited content to be more credible than live content. Third, community and social interaction were not significant factors when participants chose to consume information live. From a teaching and learning perspective, what can we glean from these results?

Flexibility (still) reigns

During the COVID-19 pandemic, synchronous and HyFlex environments saw a renaissance (Mentzer & Mohandas, 2021). The issues surrounding these modalities’ implementation are well documented (Strawser, 2022), and as we continue to recover, it is important to remember that asynchronous learning can still achieve learning goals and in fact may be preferable for its flexibility and potential to communicate content in different ways (through visuals, editing, and other means).

Craving credible content

Not surprisingly, participants in our study appreciated non-live content that incorporated visuals or different ways to share information. This potentially entails some editing. While it may not be realistic for instructors to become world renowned video editors, having basic editing skills is appropriate for today’s classroom (Oranburg, 2020). (See this piece for tips on creating more engaging and interactive videos.) The fundamental issue here is that students want content that looks and feels credible. In many ways this is encouraging. The fact that students recognize differences between content that may or may not be trustworthy is a good sign that some semblance of information literacy is taking root.

Social is social anywhere

Our respondents indicated that the live social community was not a particularly strong selling point to join a livestreaming community. Instructors would do well to remember that social can be social anywhere and that the synchronous elements of community may not be important enough for students to opt in to live elements. Yet we know the importance of social learning (Chuang, 2021), and we also know that live streamers can teach us how to integrate with a live audience if we want to be engaging (Gonzales & Heck, 2020). The important takeaway here is to give students an opportunity to learn in a community when you can.

Livestream teaching tips

Our findings might indicate that livestream content preferences are still a future desire of our students, not a present demand. But the overwhelming number of livestream participants in other areas seems to indicate that, at the very least, our students may appreciate the ability to watch their instructor work out problems in real time. Here are a few quick tips for teaching using livestreams:

Moving forward

Livestreaming is yet another way to reach students. As such, when we consider a livestreaming content shift, we should keep in mind student needs and the end goal, student learning. Livestreaming can be a semiflexible, social, and credible means to teach a generation of students clamoring for relevant content. Be purposeful and intentional but not fearful.

References

Ceci, L. (2022). Number of live video viewers in the United States from 2019 to 2014. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1284059/usa-live-video-viewership

Chuang, S. (2021). The applications of constructivist learning theory and social learning theory on adult continuous development. Performance Improvement, 60(3), 6–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/pfi.21963

Gonzales, E. B., & Heck, A. J. (2020, October 7). Managing the chat in online teaching: What we can learn from live streamers. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/online-course-delivery-and-instruction/managing-the-chat-in-online-teaching-what-we-can-learn-from-live-streamers

Huang, K. (2022, September 16). For Gen Z, TikTok is the new search engine. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/technology/gen-z-tiktok-search-engine.html

Mentzer, N., & Mohandas, L. (2021). Student experiences in an interactive synchronous HyFlex design thinking course during COVID-19. Interactive Learning Environments. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2022.2124423

Rubenking, B., & Strawser, M. G. (2023). Learning from a live stream: Differences in motivations, psychological needs, perceived learning, and information behaviors across live streaming and nonlive social media video viewing. Technology, Mind, and Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000115

Strawser, M. G. (Ed.). (2022). Higher education implications for teaching and learning during COVID-19. Lexington Books.

Oranburg, S. (2020, March 13). Distance education in the time of coronavirus: Quick and easy strategies for professors. Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2020-02. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3553911

Perrone, V. (1994). How to engage students in learning. Educational Leadership, 51, 11–13. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ477517


Michael G. Strawser, PhD, and Bridget Rubenking, PhD, are associate professors and Erica Kight, PhD, is an associate lecturer in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media at the University of Central Florida.