School of Education News

UW-Madison’s Nathan speaks with Wall Street Journal about study-with-me videos

June 05, 2018

UW-Madison’s Mitchell Nathan is quoted in a recent report from the Wall Street Journal that examines the explosion of so-called study-with-me videos.

The WSJ report is headlined, “Quiet! I’m Cramming for Finals — By Watching Someone Else Study: As the school year ends, many students are watching videos of others hitting the books.”

The article begins: “The video opens with medical student Jamie Lee at her desk, working on a computer and writing in a notebook. In the eighth minute, she pulls her hair up into a ponytail. At 11:20, she adjusts her glasses. She says nothing. She doesn’t leave her seat. She never looks at the camera. This 53 minutes of footage has been watched almost 500,000 times. As the school year comes to a close, lots of students are cramming for finals. Some are doing it on camera.”

The Wall Street Journal adds: “In a tidy corner of the internet, a diligent class of students film themselves studying and post the videos online. They solve problem sets, revise worksheets, color-code notes and make flashcards—inviting viewers to study with them. …

The newspaper notes: "Some students may feel isolated when they’re up late studying. Having a video on in the background can feel like having a study buddy.”

“I think the people making these videos are tapping into a need where you want to be social without being disrupted from your study goals,” Nathan is quoted as telling the Wall Street Journal for the report. “Think of it like parallel play. This is parallel studying: You’re ignoring each other, but that’s still much more preferable than doing it all by yourself.”

Nathan is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Sciences with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology. He also is the director of the Center on Education and Work.

In the U.S., the WSJ notes, views of so-called study-with-me videos tripled in 2017 from 2016, according to YouTube, which won’t disclose total numbers.

To learn much more about this growing social media trend –- including how the marketers have noticed and engaged with the students producing the videos –- check out the entire Wall Street Journal report online here (however, the article is behind a pay wall).

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