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Home / Education / Prepping for a test? You can now get expert help on TikTok, Instagram

Prepping for a test? You can now get expert help on TikTok, Instagram

Edtech companies are using fun 30-second videos on micro-vlogging platforms to reach out to a new generation, as well as to those who may not use other apps or video platforms on the internet.

education Updated: Feb 13, 2020 13:50 IST
Cherylann Mollan
Cherylann Mollan
Hindustan Times
A snapshot from a TikTok video by the edtech company Toppr, explaining the different methods of heating.
A snapshot from a TikTok video by the edtech company Toppr, explaining the different methods of heating.

If you’ve been heading to TikTok for dance-move challenges, quirky hair and make-up trends, and funny lip-sync videos, guess what? It’s now also a place for you to prep for exams. Videos, created by education-tech platforms, offer fun, 30-second explainers on a variety of subjects. You can learn about the law of gravitation via animated falling apples. A cartoon hose squeezes in Bernoulli’s principle, about fluids and pressure.

Companies such as Toppr, Gradeup, Testbook and Vedantu have been creating educational content on the video-sharing app since TikTok’s #EduTok campaign, launched in June 2019. “We launched #EduTok to streamline content focused on academic learning and life skills,” says a spokesperson from the company. “We live in the smartphone era, and digital users have shorter attention spans. So the short-video format has become extremely popular. Within the first five months of its launch, #EduTok saw 12 million creations.”

On Instagram, upGrad posts 30-second explainers on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science on Instagram. The slightly-longer 60-second videos are uploaded on IGTV. These videos are targeted towards working professionals in the 21-35 age group, and focus on creating awareness about the subjects and their demand in the job market. “On a platform like Instagram, you’re competing with a lot of fun content. So to get people to watch educational videos, you have to make them visually-appealing and engaging. Our videos feature time-lapses and animated graphics as they tend to grab attention,” says Mayank Kumar, co-founder and managing director of upGrad. 

NEW FORMATS

Shobhit Bhatnagar, chief executive officer and co-founder of Gradeup, says their ultra-short videos aim to help working professionals and aspirants prepare for competitive exams. “You have to build interest in the first 5 seconds,” he says. “We follow a story-telling format and create storyboards to understand the progression of the video,” says Bhatnagar. On one trivia post about why the President does not pay income tax, the video opens with the hook, “Do you want to live in India without paying income tax?”

TikTok video creation is different from producing content for YouTube, Bhatnagar adds. “There’s more work in the pre-production stage than post-production.” Gradeup videos incorporate gifs, graphics, images, animation and sound effects to make the video interesting. In a video explaining the meaning of the idiom ‘cat-nap’, you see napping cats and a boy dozing on a pile of books as animated ‘zzzs’ escape from his head.

The short-video format is pushing EdTech companies to experiment with not just the presentation of educational content, but also the content itself. “In-depth analysis of a subject or topic is not possible, so we focus on explaining a single concept, math problem, or meaning of a word” says Rajshekhar Ratrey, vice president, product and knowledge of Toppr. 

@gradeup_banking

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♬ original sound - Gradeup Banking

So in 30-second videos, you can learn about how the Earth’s magnetic field saves us from harmful solar winds, how histamine causes your cheeks to turn pink after a blow, or how Henry’s Law can help you survive high-altitude summits.

“We train our presenters to use short simple sentences and to be upbeat in their demeanor to match the tone of the platform. On the plus side, once you get a student’s attention, it’s easier to retain it for 30 seconds as opposed to an hour,” Raterey says.

SPREADING FAST

Bhatnagar says that these video-sharing platforms help EdTech companies reach audiences they wouldn’t have otherwise. “Some young people aren’t on any other social media platform, and don’t know much about YouTube, but they’re on TikTok,” he says.

Kanpur-based Arpit Tripathi, 21, who is currently preparing for banking services exams, likes this as well. He stumbled upon Gradeup videos on TikTok two months ago and now regularly views the company’s videos around reasoning and quantitative analysis. “The videos are free, and can be accessed from anywhere,” he says. “Plus, they share tricks that help you solve math problems, like calculating the square of 106 or 76% of 25, without using a pen and book. Since the videos are short, I can cover multiple lessons and subjects in a short time and can replay the video if I didn’t grasp the concept.”

Bhopal-based Gaurav Maheshwari, 25, who actively follows upGrad’s Instagram account, has been enjoying the explainer videos. “Because of all the insights I gained from their videos, like what Data Science entails and how important it is in the job market, I’m now inclined to take up a course on data science,” he says. “It’s good that the videos are entertaining, because when you’re casually browsing through Instagram, you’re not looking for in-depth learning but quirky content, something one can relate to and remember.”