What TikTok reveals about the future of education

Even pre-pandemic, the decline of conventional education was already underway. With exorbitant prices and a give attention to standardized take a look at scores, the industrial education mannequin has develop into more and more disconnected from the wants of each college students and employers. Worse, little consideration goes towards encouraging the expertise and mentality wanted for lifelong studying.

As the cofounder of an education startup, I don’t suppose it must be this fashion. A recent Harvard study confirmed that college students truly be taught extra when education is constructed on “lively studying,” which promotes working collaboratively on initiatives. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the disruption of education as children and younger adults have been compelled to be taught from residence. In the collective depending on what studying ought to appear like going ahead, I’ve discovered that the social media platform TikTok gives some shocking insights.

Over the previous few years, TikTok has develop into one of the largest studying platforms in the world: It’s out there in over 150 markets and is one of the most downloaded apps in 40-plus nations. On the app, which is on the market in 75 languages, creators make a range of short-form movies on the whole lot from cooking hacks to bop strikes to crafts and math expertise. The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok presently has greater than seven billion views.


Why has TikTok develop into such a well-liked studying platform? It embodies the following traits:

Creators are empowered: Conventional education has been targeted on establishments that restrict and management entry to lecturers, regulating their relationship with their college students. In distinction, TikTok is designed to make it simple for anybody to be a video creator, to share data, and to seek out an viewers.

It additionally empowers lecturers of all types by giving them a platform unbiased from their establishments and a brand new approach to meet their college students the place they’re. As an example, @Iamthatenglishteacher started posting TikTok grammar classes to assist her middle-school college students overcome widespread errors. She now has 1.5 million followers.

Affect is the new accreditation: The highest creators on TikTok aren’t there as a result of of the faculty they went to or the certificates they’ve. It’s their expertise and talent to embody what they’re instructing in a compelling manner that offers them their authority and affect. It’s a pattern throughout the studying sector: Individuals are on the lookout for demonstrated mastery or recognition versus conventional institutional credentials.

Studying is enjoyable, and learners are actively engaged: Entrepreneur Seth Godin famously stated that the focus of trendy education may be summed up with one query: “Will this be on the take a look at?” He believes that what’s lacking at the core of this mentality is “enrollment”—that is the concept that college students are there as a result of they need to be. TikTok captures this idea: It’s enjoyable, partaking, and individuals are displaying up by selection, sparked by a love of the material and never for a certificates or course credit score.

The future of studying can be social: TikTok is a strong device for education as a result of it’s each a studying platform and a social community. Individuals discover their associates, scroll by way of content material, and alongside the manner discover new teams with shared pursuits. TikTok’s 500 million active users now put it forward of better-known social websites similar to LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

However whereas TikTok illuminates many of the traits defining the future of studying, it additionally has its clear limitations. The utmost video size it helps is 60 seconds, which makes a full education or deeper expertise coaching unattainable on the platform.

TikTok additionally doesn’t present dwell connection or accountability—two important elements that had been additionally lacking from the first technology of on-line studying. When on-line lessons acquired their begin, they principally supplied entry to instructional content material, however struggled with follow-through: On average, only 4% of folks will full an internet class, principally as a result of on-line lessons lack a group. And it’s the group that gives the accountability and peer stress that helps preserve folks going.


Nonetheless, TikTok is effective for educators proper now as a result of it gives publicity. Nevertheless it’s not a sustainable income supply. 

“TikTok lets me seize and share these profound moments that showcase my work,” says Rachel Weinstock, a TikTok creator, coach, educator, and activist who gives cohort-based programs and training (the place she makes her income). “TikTok is the floor space device—letting me unfold my message—nevertheless it doesn’t supply an earnings supply. More and more, I exploit it to ask customers into my paid and deeper packages.”

Educators and creators similar to Rachel want greater than TikTok can supply. A business-in-a-box answer may make it simple to construct instructional experiences that create sustainable earnings streams without having thousands and thousands of followers.

This turns into potential when instructional content material goes deeper than what a platform like TikTok gives whereas nonetheless retaining some of that social, partaking ethos that folks naturally gravitate to. In a dwell, on-line, cohort-based course, as an example, teams be taught collectively; they provide and obtain suggestions and are held accountable. In comparison with the earlier technology of solo, self-paced on-line studying, this mannequin can create a real sense of belonging.

These are the instructional experiences that work greatest for the trainer and learner and which might convey us right into a golden age of studying—one that’s accessible from wherever, led by passionate creators and educators, and grounded in a related group.

Candice Faktor is the cofounder of Disco, a platform for creators to construct and monetize dwell cohort-based programs and studying communities.