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What YouTubers Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy


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Professor Renee Hobbs explores vlogging as it supports students' literacy and learning in a workshop offered at the Northeast Media Literacy Conference, November 10, 2018 in Providence, Rhode Island

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What YouTubers Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

  1. 1. What YouTubers Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy Northeast Media Literacy Conference Providence RI November 10, 2018 Renee Hobbs Harrington School of Communication & Media University of Rhode Island USA Email: Twitter: @reneehobbs #mindovermedia
  2. 2.
  3. 3. • Gain knowledge about vloggers and vlogging • Identify structural features of the vlog as a genre • Consider the power of vlogging for literacy and learning • Identify algorithmic features of YouTube comments that shape viewer response • Practice extemporaneous oral performance through the use of a safe online platform Goals for this Session
  4. 4. Performing a Life People vlog to inform, to entertain and to persuade others
  5. 5. Vlogbrothers Vlogbrothers are John and Hank Green, who use video twice a week to share ideas with each other and their YouTube audience. They have been vlogging since 2006.
  6. 6. Vlogbrothers Addressing a specific target audience – in this case, talking to your brother – can be a stylistic device that helps extend ideas and information to a larger audience
  7. 7. Vlogbrothers 101
  8. 8. Vloggers Make Choices decisions  Self-representation: where & how to be standing (or sitting) & whether to include face, upper body, or whole body in the frame.  As producers: they make decisions about the length of the video and choose production values: whether to publish their videos as unedited video files or edit them to include introductory & closing sequences, music, other video content, title credits, sound effects & more.
  9. 9. Vlogging creates a parasocial relationship between the host & the audience, enabling viewers to feel emotionally and socially connected Hobbs, R. (2017). Create to Learn. NY: Wiley.
  10. 10. Create to Learn: Introduction to Digital Literacy, Renee Hobbs. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 4 production techniques that impact how a speaker is perceived
  11. 11. The Close Up To achieve a sense of emotional intimacy, vloggers use the close‐up, focusing attention on the performer’s face Because YouTube videos are generally low resolution, close‐ups become effective devices to create visual intensity
  12. 12. Direct Address When the performer uses terms like “you” while looking into the camera, the the role of the viewer is elevated We become directly part of
  13. 13. Camera Movement Camera movement affects the ethos of the performer. Using a selfie stick while walking around in a city creates a moving camera effect. The technique combines the excitement of action and unpredictability that is appealing to viewers
  14. 14. Framing  Poor quality video can actually make a performance seem more intimate  The rough image quality constructs the impression of the situation as authentic  Unusual framing may suggest the private nature of the message, as if the camera was only a witness
  15. 15. Sliman, age 10 Amman, Jordan
  16. 16. Who is your favorite YouTuber? What makes it great?
  17. 17. Who is your favorite YouTuber? What makes it great?
  18. 18. YouTubers share their passions with others, using a mix of communication strategies that create the perception of authenticity and authority
  20. 20. Learners may infer from YouTube that being angry or mean will attract attention
  21. 21. YouTube Comment Algorithms 1. Controversy Creates Popularity. On YouTube, the “Top” comments are the ones with the most replies. The comments you see first are often the most controversial. 2. Low accountability. Unlike on Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter, a user’s profile doesn’t hold a collection of their comments or a list of things they’ve commented on. 3. No searchability. Users cannot freely scroll through comments or use search to find comments. 4. No human moderation. There are no rewards or punishments for making a comment on YouTube & no human-based comment moderation.
  22. 22. Vlogging Embodies the Power of Performance • In vlogging, authenticity and authority are constructed through spoken oral performance • Vloggers use four specific techniques to create a parasocial relationship to build audiences for their work • Comments on YouTube videos are shaped by algorithms that reward controversial replies
  23. 23. Learners can use many forms of media to express their knowledge & understanding
  24. 24. Practice Vlogging Respond to the question, “How could vlogging be useful for your learners? Provide a snappy response in under 90 seconds, using the 1, 2, 3 formula.
  25. 25. What vloggers are your students learning from? How can you help students learn to critically analyze vlogs? What current activities could be modified so that students experience the power of performance? What potential impact might vlogging have for learners?
  26. 26. Renee Hobbs Professor of Communication Studies Director, Media Education Lab Co-Director, Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Literacy Harrington School of Communication & Media University of Rhode Island USA Email: Twitter: @reneehobbs LEARN MORE Web: