The Education on YouTube panel took place on Sunday at Summer In The City 2015. It featured creators including Hannah Witton and Michael Stevens. It was chaired by Jazza John.
With YouTube being the second largest search engine at present, it’s inevitable that the platform is host to a wide range of educational videos. The panel, which was chaired by Jazza John and made up of Hannah Witton, Michael Stevens, Jake Roper and Tom Scott, took place in Panel Room B and discussed issues around educational content on the platform.
Jazza kicked off the discussion by asking the panellists about the stereotypes around YouTube and YouTube content. He asked if they found it frustrating that there is the perception of vlogging and online video making that automatically goes to low-brow content. Michael says that the low brow content is really important to humanity, so he doesn’t like the distinction. “People like watching something completely ridiculous and then in the very next second, they’ll watch something from Tom Scott and they’ll learn all about the polar effect or something and it’s all part of the human experience,” he said.
There was then talks about having the right balance of being both educational and entertaining on their channels. Jazza asked about how the panel pull their personality through when they script their videos. “There’s more than I can fit into the video on a particular topic but what I chose to show is what I liked,” said Michael. “I don’t deliberately try to insert my personality into it. I just make sure the script is a conversation and the camera is my friend.”
Tom added: “I tend to write how I speak, so I will be saying it in my head as I’m typing the script out, and when I actually have it in front of me and it’s memorised, I think I’m obviously going to take that out and make it more personal.”
The discussion then moved on to talking about second channels, using Jake’s vlogging channel as an example. He said the main reason for it was because the content he creates for VSauce takes a while to make, and so he started the second channel so he could record more things.
Jazza then asked Hannah about when she was thinking about starting a second channel to separate everything else she does from the sex ed videos, but said she had a lot of varied advice back. “I quite like that amongst my channel there’s all sorts of stuff and then we can throw in education videos, because what I kind of like to do by example is show anyone that anyone can be an educator,” she said. “Someone said to me once that it’s equally as important to have someone that isn’t an expert talking about these things because it makes it relatable and it could inspire other people to be like ‘oh, if this person who isn’t an expert can talk about these things correctly and intelligently then I can too.’”
They all agreed that they weren’t experts in the subjects they talk about, but rather they are good at researching and talking about those topics that they have researched. “I hope that everyone knows that I don’t know everything, and no one knows everything,” said Michael. “Most of us don’t know anything, really. I just hope that I curate what the experts are saying well enough that people know where to go.”
Finally, the conversation moved onto the topic of the YouTube algorithm (which currently favours creators who upload content more regularly) in terms of the negative impact it has on educational YouTubers. Since many of their videos take time to put together, the panellists all agreed that they can’t always upload regularly enough to not be at a disadvantage.
However Michael didn’t think the algorithm was an insurmountable hurdle. “You have to be comfortable and love what you’re doing and let your passion show and you’ll be successful, but there will always be specific formats that will be more popular,” he said.
Photos by: Ollie Ali
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