University of Liverpool media students launch new YouTube channel
Students in the University of Liverpool’s Department of Communication and Media are this week celebrating the launch of a new YouTube channel which brings to life theoretical perspectives on the rise of social media.
The channel, named Media/Pool, following the Department’s blog of the same name, is part of a new final year module launched in September 2017, entitled Viral Video. The channel will publish videos across four playlists exploring media theory, social issues and cultural phenomena as well as video essays in which students reflect on their practice.
At a time when the UK is facing a major digital skills shortage and employers are finding it difficult to assess the digital skills of job applicants, the channel offers opportunities for students to develop digital skills and demonstrate their talents to employers.
Students involved in the channel should find themselves well-placed to secure one of the 1.2 million new jobs that the UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicts will be created in the creative and digital sectors by 2022, which require specialised knowledge in social media and other digital fields such as cyber security and big data.
Following the techno-optimist perspective, students are publishing a playlist of Media/Society videos about social issues and causes close to their heart, such as animal cruelty, educational disadvantage, depression and social media addiction, urging viewers to support campaigns, boycott unethical retailers or take positive action to improve their lives.
This playlist follows the work of media scholars such as Henry Jenkins and Clay Shirky, who argue that the internet represents a democratisation of media production, reducing the influence of powerful legacy media gatekeepers and empowering citizens to organise for social change.
Another playlist acknowledges the increasingly commercialised nature of the internet, following media scholars such as Jan van Dijk. For the Media/Culture playlist, students are producing videos which encourage viewers to book trips, try new foods, buy beauty products or engage in online gaming.
The third playlist, Media/Geek, showcases videos about media theory, drawing on the students’ specialist theoretical knowledge developed during their studies. For these videos students draw on best practice guidelines for e-learning videos developed by Philip Guo and his colleagues at MIT and EdX, who found that e-learning videos are more engaging and aid student learning when they’re short and feature informal talking-heads and Khan-style tablet drawings.
The process of producing instructional videos enhances student learning through development of positive emotions, according to a 2017 study by Pirhonen and Rasi.
Since launching, the channel has achieved more than 3,000 views, drawing viewers from 27 countries and dozens of comments. The vast majority of viewers are from the UK but the channel has also been watched by viewers in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, UAE, Indonesia and Thailand.
Initial analysis suggests the channel is achieving some of the key characteristics of virality according to Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley’s Going Viral – there is a clear ‘bottom-up’ human and social aspect to the sharing of content and there is a spreading of content to distant networks.
Early indications also suggest that the channel is reaching a majority female audience and that the most watched and liked videos in these early stages are part of the Media/Geek playlist, suggesting that the students’ specialist media knowledge and communicative skills are proving valuable assets in the digital marketplace.
The channel can be accessed here.
For further information about the channel or module please contact Dr Kerry Traynor on firstname.lastname@example.org.