Ph.D. in Communication Sciences, BA in International Journalism
This article looks at how new information and communication technologies can develop Edutainment, particularly considering Youtube’s role in the classroom, combined with the professor’s communication skills, namely as part of non-verbal communication. Effective communication involves paying heed to technical issues pertaining to the target audience (students), the communication channel and the message, among other aspects. This article also focuses on the use of Youtube aimed at the Marketing for Educational Institutions.
Keywords: Youtube; edutainment; education; communication.
Currently, in our society, shows and entertainment tend to influence various spheres, such as journalism, with infotainment, politics, and spectacular political rallies featuring stage/scenery- and teaching-related aspects. Of course, this can elicit either favorable or unfavorable views. I believe that shows and entertainment do not necessarily have to be associated with negative features.
Could classes be spectacular? Is there a problem with a show turning out to be positive, in terms of teaching, and being able to generate student interest in the subjects being taught?
With regard to the various teaching levels, the growing use of information and communication technologies in classrooms could aid in developing edutainment – combining education with shows / entertainment. With edutainment, especially involving an audiovisual aspect, teaching / learning could become more enjoyable and more effective for students than a traditional model (for instance, mostly or almost solely based on an oral presentation by the teacher and / or on written items – books or even Powerpoint). This does not completely nullify the possibility of having pedagogically effective teachers, solely in terms of their own communication, performance and technical / scientific skills, without making use of other resources. However, we need to be realistic and not ignore the fact that the society students live in is widely covered by the media, and that audiovisual content is highly pleasing to students. Such content can be broadcast via television, disseminated by computer and even via mobile. Almost magnetically, the screen captivates not just the eyes of young people. In this context, the teacher can use information and communication technologies to hold students’ attention, while heightening their interest in the subjects being taught and, subsequently, improving their academic performance, especially when it is difficult to attain the same goals otherwise. This is highly significant, considering high dropout rates and a lack of school success. Teaching / learning has to be difficult and unpleasant only when they cannot be easier or more pleasant without being overly laid-back.
Teachers’ knowledge is important, provided they can impart what they know to students in the classroom setting. To this end, they may rely on their own communication skills, in terms of direct communication with students, but audiovisual and multimedia instruments can also be highly useful. The distribution of audiovisual material during the class serves to offset students’ lack of attention and to keep them concentrated on the subjects being taught, over a relatively extended period of time. This way, students should be happy to go to school instead of merely attending classes out of obligation. The willingness to learn encourages learning. We need to create a sense of expectation among students, which must not be thwarted, regarding the way their next class will use videos to continue illustrating topics in an interesting manner. The various outcomes could include fighting student absenteeism. In the teaching / learning process, we currently need to know how to properly combine human and technological aspects.
Relations Involving Youtube, Teacher and Students
Information and communication technologies feature a computer with an Internet connection, a video projector and speakers, due to their high degree of multimedia capabilities, including audiovisual aspects. Using Youtube (www.youtube.com), the latter could be quite developed in the classroom with relative ease. Thus, both teacher and students have at their disposal a highly extensive and diversified audiovisual database. It is up to the teachers to carefully select contents suited to their classes, by taking into account several aspects such as their target audience (meaning, their students). Using videos as their starting point, teachers must touch off debates and develop students’ analytical capabilities. At times, it becomes necessary to watch a video more than once, to achieve a detailed, in-depth analysis of certain aspects or to dispel students’ doubts.
Because the class has a given time limit, teachers need to manage their time, by planning, as much as possible, when they will show audiovisual material and when they will undertake direct interpersonal communication, that is, engaging in dialogue with students. Hopefully, the dynamics created by Youtube videos should not fade when starting to engage in such dialogue. The teacher’s role as a driving force, live in the classroom, is pivotal. In this regard, I wish to highlight a few aspects pertaining to teachers’ non-verbal communication:
- the way they use their voice (for example: volume and intonation)
- speed and rhythm of speech
- facial expressions
- body language
- eye contact with students.
The idea is to maintain a balance between the virtual dynamics brought into the classroom by Youtube and actual, live, in-class dynamics. This involves action by teachers, to get students to participate in class. Such participation is beneficial for learning and, to a certain extent, it is also impelled by how spectacular and exciting the videos are.
As shown in advertising techniques, which need to be highly demanding in terms of the effectiveness of communication, as part of very competitive markets, the first step toward persuading people involves drawing their attention. Message perception and persuasion are directly connected. This way, drawing and maintaining students’ attention is also vital for the learning process. Images and sounds, especially music, can cater to students’ tastes when properly chosen, taking into account age groups, for instance.
The sensory / emotional involvement of receivers is somehow linked to the quality of audiovisual equipment and to classroom conditions, namely acoustics and the possibility of modifying lighting, for proper video-viewing conditions. In this regard, I would like to point out that image size must be suited to the classroom. This has to do with the video projector and the screen. Images and sounds need to be easily perceived by students. With suitable volume and size, images and sounds are an imposing presence on the audience, thereby preventing distractions.
The selected contents need to be related to the subjects being taught. For instance, university professors in Communication Sciences and Journalism can easily find an abundance of examples on Youtube to use in their classes: musical materials (video clips), videos, movie excerpts, advertisements, journalism works, among other aspects. To this end, Youtube’s internal search engine is useful. This requires teachers to have some idea of what they are looking for, to be able to select contents and to know how to take full advantage of the aforementioned search engine, by entering appropriate keywords.
Thanks to Youtube’s contribution, Edutainment can be developed in any branch of study; however, in principle, this is more easily and more naturally the case in academic areas closely linked to shows and entertainment, such as Cinema, Music and Communication Sciences. The challenge is likely to be greater for teachers seeking to make other branches of study more attractive, using audiovisual materials, to benefit their students. However, Youtube is so vast and diversified that, in principle, it provides teachers with a realistic hope of having at their disposal at least one video matching their goals.
It should be pointed out that, currently, with its own search engines, Youtube comprises categories devoted to Education (www.youtube.com/t/education) as well as Science and Technology, including various scientific fields. Therefore, finding specific topics becomes much easier. This swiftness is beneficial to the following moments in the teacher’s professional activity:
- lesson preparation
- illustrated replies to unforeseen questions asked by students in class.
On the one hand, the contents found on Youtube can be used in a classroom setting. On the other hand, students and teachers themselves also contribute toward expanding the database, with regard to their branch of study, when producing academic assignments of an audiovisual nature that go on Youtube. Teachers can impel the teaching / learning process, by having students do individual or group assignments to be put on Youtube. The possibility of such assignments being viewed by other people, anywhere in the world, could generate particular student interest. Of course, there are students whose training enables them to produce videos of some quality, compared to other students. This is the case, for instance, with university students in Journalism or Communication Sciences.
It is understandable that not all videos uploaded on the Internet have the same ability to draw and maintain students’ attention, with positive effects on learning. In this regard, we need to consider several factors, noteworthy among them the way contents are put together, taking into account the target audience. Below is a list of aspects pertaining to audiovisual communication:
-audio materials (including music)
-visual rhythm (featuring video editing)
-(verbal and non-verbal) communicative skill of the people taking part in the video
-the relation between verbal and non-verbal communication.
We know that, in principle, any individual can upload work to Youtube; however, the competent and effective mastery of the aforementioned materials is not within everyone's grasp. Such competence and efficiency could imply a certain degree of specialization and even professionalism.
Marketing for Educational Institutions
We notice that several universities are institutionally present on Youtube. In terms of Marketing for Educational Institutions, these videos play a significant role. This can contribute toward garnering and retaining students, both nationwide and around the world, depending on the competitiveness among universities. To this end, the appealing nature of verbal and non-verbal messages is important. Some of the aforementioned videos concern the presentation of universities, by focusing on faculties, degree courses, facilities, students, professors and multiple activities. This is also a means of asserting the institution’s prestige.
Other videos comprise classes. These could enable universities to make known their technical, scientific and educational quality, both nationally and worldwide. Thus, universities can exert their influence on other educational institutions. This occurs when faculty members show their students a video of a class lectured by a professor at another university, because of its quality. This professor, with his / her knowledge, verbal and non-verbal communication, could be shown in several classes in various parts of the world, any time. To this end, all that is needed is a suitable computer and audiovisual equipment. Thus, I wish to highlight Youtube’s potential in the sphere of distance learning.
A video class should not be the same as a live class. The audiovisual medium has certain requirements for drawing and maintaining students’ attention, to achieve positive results with regard to learning. In principle, placing a video camera on a tripod and constantly having a fixed image could become monotonous and boring for the audience. An audiovisual dynamic needs to be developed, which includes capturing a variety of images, possibly using more than one video camera, along with editing work. The quality of all this depends on the professionals involved.
Universities can either have their own audiovisual production services or they can turn to companies providing such services. Along with the production of books and magazines, in either hard copy or electronic format, which sometimes include publications services, I feel that universities need to have audiovisual production services of a scientific and educational nature, including video classes and other kinds of content. In strategic terms, this should be included in the Marketing for Educational Institutions. In the expense-to-revenue ratio regarding the aforementioned audiovisual contents, we need to consider the possibility of including some advertisements. In this regard, the promotion of audiovisual works found on Youtube could be useful for increasing the number of hits. Such a promotion goes by way of the Internet itself, including social networks. Using the technological resources required for connecting to the Internet, the dissemination of content and access to Youtube are free of charge, while reaching a potentially large audience.
Currently, in our society, information and communication technologies are present in several areas of our lives: individual, family, social, professional and even academic. The aforementioned technologies serve as means of disseminating contents that fall in the category of shows and entertainment. Young people enjoy such contents, which take up a substantial part of their lives. In this context, Youtube is noteworthy not only for its entertainment capabilities, but also for its potential in a school setting.
The school needs to find out students’ preferences, to improve their academic performance as much as possible. In the classroom, teachers need to manage communication of several intervening factors: their own communication, particularly the non-verbal kind, that of students, as well as the messages conveyed via new information and communication technologies, as is the case with Youtube.
In the Marketing for Educational Institutions, universities make their presentation while launching various types of contents on Youtube. These institutions know that merely having good quality is currently not enough. This good quality needs to be made known.
Published by Marinho Media Analysis / February 10, 2014