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A K12 Teacher’s Guide to TikTok

Many teachers are now looking for a guide for using TikTok in the classrooms.  Why?  That’s where the kids are! Like it or not, TikToK is probably here to stay and is a mecca for kids ages 10 to 19. Can TikTok be used for conveying lessons?  Yes, but with some modifications, your lesson and delivery will help as discussed in SchoolTube’s Guide for Using TikTok in the Classroom.

What is TikToK and How is it Different from YouTube?

According to an article in Influencer MarketingHub, TikTok is a social media app with over 1 billion users, it was launched by ByteDance, a China-based company, in 2016 and is the fastest social media platform to hit the 1 billion user mark. Like all popular social media apps, TikTok is free, supported by advertising. TikTok is more like the “Twitter of video,” allowing users to post short videos (up to 3-minutes) that are displayed in portrait (vertical) orientation.  TikTok is famous for generating millions of viral views around “trends” started by influencers, where users attempt to copy-cat the “trends” first published by the influencer.  For example, some type of dance move, “kiss your crush,” a contest, or goofy activity. YouTube allows users to post up to 15-minute videos on unverified accounts and videos of longer length for verified YouTube users.  YouTube videos are shown in landscape (horizontal) orientation. According to Influencer MarketingHub, the most-watched videos on TikTok are around 16 seconds in length. Because of its Chinese-based ownership, there are many political issues and concerns surrounding TikTok, not the least of which is data and identity privacy. In sum, TikTok is optimized for sharing short full-screen vertical videos on smartphones.

What is the Average Viewing time on TikTok?

According to the Wallaroo stats website, there are over 130 million users from the United States on TikTok, of which 60% are female and 40% are male. According to an article in Edutopia, nearly one-third of US TikTok users are between the ages of 10 and 19, and with many users below the age of 10. TikTok allows users to quickly scroll from one video to another, so while the average video may be short, total viewing time can be long.  The Edutopia article states that the average TikTok user spends 82 minutes a day watching short videos. Think about that…82 minutes per day x 60 seconds is 4920 seconds. With an average video length of 16 seconds, that means the average viewer is watching over 300 TikTok videos per day.  That is a mind-numbing flash of videos passing before their eyes. As such, TikTok can be very addictive, creating an environment where kids can get mesmerized by flipping from one video to another.  

8 Steps on How to Start Using TikTok for K12 Teachers

While TikTok has its drawbacks, it can be a powerful avenue to reach students because that’s where they are comfortable. The goal is not to use TikTok as the main lesson delivery method but to augment in-classroom lectures with a fun and quick place for students to go for help. The challenge is to break the lesson into bite-sized pieces that convey lesson segments that can be easily enjoyed and consumed by the student.  Here are SchoolTube’s 8 steps on how to start using TikTok for K12 teachers.

  • First, create a TikTok account and get familiar with the app. 
  • Follow other teachers and groups (ex #TeachersonTikTok) on TikTok to learn from them. 
  • Learn how to create and edit videos on TikTok – see example tutorial below.
  • Turn off comments on TikTok?  Do you want students or others to comment on your videos? It can be a “Pandora’s Box.” We suggest starting with them off. 
  • Create short lesson videos, less than 1-minute for certain.
  • Add strong, fun visuals to your video.
  • Tell a story and make it fun! Students like to be entertained.
  • Organize and promote your TikTok videos to your students.

Video Embed: How to Edit Videos on TikTok

Understanding TikTok Parental Controls

Many parents, especially for very young children, have enabled strict controls on their children’s TikTok account, including “pairing” the child’s account with their own account so that the parent can see what their child is watching. So, if you teach students younger than 13 and want to use TikTok, you will need to learn about and navigate the privacy and parental control issues. A great way to do that is ask a few parents (or fellow teachers) how they control their children’s TikTok account or review the parental control settings on your own account. We also suggest watching a TikTok parental control overview video like shown below. You’ll want to make sure a large percentage of your students can access TikTok, otherwise, it may be a waste of time.

Video Embed:  Understanding TikTok Parental Controls

How to Promote Your TikTok Videos to Students

Ok, so you have jumped in feet first…you have created your TikTok account, learned how to make videos, and have started making short videos. Now you need to share the videos with your students. How do you do that? How do you share your other lesson materials with your students?  Use the same process to share your TikTok videos. If you are using an LMS like Schoology or Google Classroom, just start incorporating your video into those pages. Talk about them in class! Put your TikTok username on the board and ask your students to follow you. It’s pretty simple to start sharing your TikTok teaching videos, just add them to your normal classroom process and the ease of access, and will do the rest!  And, if your content becomes popular you can be paid by TikTok, but per TikTok, you must have amassed over 10,000 followers and generated over 100,000 video views over the last 30-day period. Learn more on how to get paid by TikTok by reaching this article

Keep those cameras rolling!