User Generated Edutainment
This private-public partnership would feature small & large companies supporting the program in exchange for access to the best teachers to lead their employee engagement activities.
Before we get to E, let’s start with C.
Why are we moving from User Generated Content to User Generated Edutainment?!
Isn’t UGE just User Generated Content, but with us changing the last letter so we can coin a new term and pretend we’re oh-so ahead of the game?
UGE does look like UGC on the surface, but the best work in this area has something different going on: an increased focus on Pedagogy.
Although some UGE creators may not see themselves as students of the science of learning, the proliferation of access to learning about learning means UGE is on the rise.
But what’s the driving force behind UGE?
We believe it’s a combination of frustration at the current higher education system, technology lowering barriers to entry, and new delivery modes like cohort-based courses.
These are making learning about learning (and learning about teaching) far more accessible, tangible, and easily applicable.
Room to Room
One place we’re seeing UGE explode is in the classroom itself - peer learning with students teaching other students. We’re not saying students are studying Pedagogy. But perhaps learning about learning and teaching is becoming more intuitive. Students are observing teachers and putting their own spin on that content to help themselves and their peers retain that knowledge.
Because of pedagogy, some creators of UGE (students or life-long learners alike) will become influencers who happen to teach; others will become bona fide Teachers (and the new DJs).
What we do know is that as more learning about how we learn and teach becomes more engaging and accessible, the more people will use tried and tested pedagogical principles. In turn, the experiences they create will be more impactful. A virtuous circle, indeed.
The UGE trend will see...
- More quirky classes, less linear CBCs
- Mixing it up between long and short-form material
- Study groups with ASMR
- Students remixing content
- Self-directed learning
- Macro-level flipped classroom: forging partnerships with traditional institutions after a period of self-exploration
Is this the same as Teachers becoming DJs?
You may be thinking this trend seems similar to Teachers are the new DJs.
While there’s definitely some crossover, that trend is about the use of expansive new tools by professional teachers and facilitators, and established educators taking greater ownership of their work.
UGE on the other hand has a more freestyle, low fidelity vibe. It may be less polished, but there’s a far greater sense of openness and vulnerability.
Why this trend matters
Relatable, accessible, and real learning is the future of the classroom. Letting learners have a voice in what they learn creates a peer-to-peer experience that beats solely teacher-led lessons any day of the week. Learners will retain more information and be more engaged by learning from each other.
In Action: UGE
This thriving science news site was created by Hüseyin Kilic, who was looking for a way to interact with his father’s café patrons while he was on college breaks and improve his English language skills through blogging.
11 years later, his site has 15.5 million followers, a full-fledged staff, and a subscription paywall that earned him 10X more than his engineering job.
Learning about accountancy doesn’t need to be taxing. This German accountant has over 700k followers looking to him to help them save money on their taxes. Fabi creates quirky TikTok and IG reels videos, with his signature espresso always in hand.
Steuer Fabi isn’t the only person who has created a unique brand by developing quirky TikToks about spreadsheets.
With over 650k followers, Kat Norton aka Miss Excel uses skits, dancing, and rewritten song lyrics to help people easily understand one of the longest-standing yet most misunderstood software tools around - Microsoft Excel.
As well as becoming educational DJs, teachers are also becoming social media savvy as a way to keep students tuned in. Some teachers, like Brittany Sinitch, have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and YouTube for their vlogs, lesson plans, and Q&As all about their lives as teachers. This tactic allows them to gain followers, find community, and make extra money as content creators and influencers. The other reason we’re including teachers like Brittany in our UGE trend? They’re not afraid to share their own struggles and self-doubt along the way.
Key Themes for Edutainment 3.0
Platforms double down on learning
From TikTok to LinkedIn to Snapchat and Pinterest, tech platforms are significantly expanding their educational offerings.
The appeal of authenticity
Yeah, we know, you’ve heard the word “authenticity” 4000 times in the last week. While we don’t love the term “authentic self” (let’s be honest - most of our full 100% authentic selves would not be the ones we’d like to share in public), this isn’t a passing fad. UGE is here to stay because it’s relatable, accessible, and real.
Influence is the new accreditation
People care more about demonstrated mastery or recognition versus traditional institutional credentials. Have an MBA from Harvard? It’s a signal, sure, but less valuable than it once was. This is why the top creators on TikTok are making more of an impact - their skills and ability to embody what they are teaching in a compelling way is what gives them their authority.
In Action: Ones to Watch
“My channel is edutainment, absolutely. I believe that only rarely and in very trivial cases should accuracy take a backseat to a joke. If a joke is going to make something inaccurate, it's not a good joke.”
While our attention spans apparently keep dropping, the likes of Dan Olson are successfully operating at the opposite end of the spectrum: the video essay genre. Dan creates long-form lecture performances on the intersection of pop culture and philosophy.
He started out deconstructing everything from 50 Shades of Grey and Minecraft to the conspiracies of flat-Earth believers, but skyrocketed to fame with the above video that posits NFTs are a “poverty trap.” This 2hr 18 min video has 7 million views and counting, and mainly features Dan sitting at a desk.
Who needs CGI and Insta Reels, anyway?
This South Korean comics company has over 72 million monthly active users who are consuming and co-creating. While Webtoon doesn’t have explicit plans to move into educational material, we can’t help but see Edutainment 3.0 being a hugely valuable area for them. They’re also well-placed to benefit from one of our emerging trends: Liquid IP
Medical influencers are the new social media stars.
Makeup and beauty influencers have been around for a while. Now medical professionals are unpacking the science in their respective fields. Unsurprisingly, it’s the likes of dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons who are leading the way, but there’s now plenty of Edutainment content now being served up by less obvious medical practitioners such as your friendly expert anesthetist. Perhaps what’s most appealing about the medical influencers is the combination of serious science with a lighter tone, along with behind-the-scenes glimpses into their practices and lives. They may even be your access point to a whole new career...
Guidelines for Greatness
- As Edutainment breaks the formal learning norms of “knowledge deposits,” learning communities are a great way to further democratize education. Take this one step further by having people vote on the next learning topics. Your learners gain self-autonomy by advocating for their interests. Go further still? Set up a Learning DAO (that’s an emerging trend, though...)
- Relatable, accessible, and real content leverages authenticity. Let your students have a say in classroom content. It’ll give them agency and keep them engaged with their learning.
- Accuracy and Regulation: UGE has issues with a lack of authority (in a peer-review sense) and regulation. In a world rife with misinformation and bias, this isn’t a challenge that’s going away easily
- The Power Law: A 2018 estimate found that the top 3 percent of channels take in 85 percent of all views. Don’t expect overnight stardom.
Spark Your Creativity
Ideas to jumpstart your imagination and help you include Edutainment 3.0 in your endeavors.
- Which seemingly niche, mundane, or unexplored areas of your world could you bring to the fore through UGE? You may surprise yourself at how many others are seeking what you have to offer
- Which members of your community could you partner with to create your own UGE?