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TikTok teaching? U of T researchers study the social media platform’s use in academia

“In a bid to shine a spotlight on their research and make it more accessible, academics around the world are following in the footsteps of their students and taking to TikTok to share videos. The trend is being highlighted by a team of researchers at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. The researchers looked at the different ways academics, educators and scholarly communities are using TikTok, the popular social media platform that specializes in short-form user-generated videos, to share knowledge – from Gothic architecture explainers to weight loss tips. In particular, the researchers examined user behaviour, concerns about youth engagement, data and privacy implications, the technical features of the app and the visual aspect of scholarly contribution. “If watching YouTube is like sitting in a lecture, then using TikTok is like having a conversation,” says study co-lead JP King, a sessional instructor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design who works as KMDI’s data visualization and graphic designer. “TikTok provides a fun place to create new forms of accessible learning shared outside of classrooms, textbooks, and conference halls…”

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