Overall, TikTok may have a somewhat controversial reputation,1 and social media in general isn’t well-known for its academic merits. However, some teachers have begun using TikTok in the classroom to enhance the learning experience. As a profession, teaching necessitates the embrace of innovation in order to meet the students where they’re at — and in modern times, they’re on social media.
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a teacher at any grade level, you’ll want to keep up with the latest educational trends and innovations, such as the use of TikTok for education. Doing so may help you to better connect with your students, design compelling educational content they’ll actually want to study and help your students achieve new academic heights. There are a number of ways of designing TikTok educational content, and you can find some exciting new ideas below.
Potential Benefits of Using TikTok in the Classroom
Given that TikTok is a relatively new platform and the use of TikTok for teachers is an even more recent trend, there isn’t a significant body of evidence on the potential benefits. However, general surveys do point to some advantages. Consider the following statistics:2
- On average, kids who use TikTok (ages four to 18) spend about 91 minutes per day on the platform. This suggests that teachers who want to capture their students’ attention should consider using TikTok simply because of its universal appeal among this age group.
- One in four TikTok users use the social media platform for educational purposes, and 69% of those users have stated that TikTok videos help them do their homework.
- Students most often use TikTok educational content for their English classes, followed by history, science and mathematics.
The defining characteristic of TikTok is its short-length videos (10 minutes).3 Because of this, the use of TikTok for educational purposes lends itself best to capturing student attention, boosting student engagement and delivering small, digestible chunks of information, as opposed to cultivating critical and deep thinking.
For example, students might turn to TikTok to find out how to cite a source in an essay or to discover the main themes of a Shakespeare play. Although the limitations of TikTok videos might not lend themselves to deep learning and critical analysis, they may serve to spark students’ interest in and passion for learning. A student who hears an interesting tidbit in a history video, for instance, might become intrigued by the topic and do further research on it.
How To Use TikTok for Education
While TikTok does have certain limitations, one thing it does well is encourage creativity. If you’re thinking of using TikTok in the classroom, the ways in which you can use it are limited only to your imagination. The following are a few ideas to help you get started.
Create Condensed Lessons
Teachers may create a video that offers a condensed version of the day’s lesson plan and upload it to TikTok. Film the video set against the backdrop of a whiteboard or chalkboard that depicts all of the salient points of the lesson in order to reinforce the core concepts in both a visual and auditory way. Students can refer to the video after class to refresh their memory while completing their homework assignments or studying for upcoming exams. Condensed lesson videos may also be helpful for students who missed that day’s class.
Create “Further Learning” Videos
One common challenge in the teaching profession is the need to cover a tremendous amount of material within a short period of time. Teachers may find that they don’t have enough time in the class to discuss everything, and so they may need to prioritize the information that will be featured on an upcoming exam. TikTok videos can help address this issue.
You can create and upload videos that supplement the day’s lesson plan, and that spark students’ interest in learning more about the topic. To best capture a student’s attention, consider honing in on an intriguing, yet small detail that can serve as a microcosm for the lesson plan as a whole. For example, when teaching a unit on the American Revolutionary War, you might use a TikTok video to highlight one of the lesser known important figures, like Dr. Joseph Warren or Deborah Sampson.
Reinforce Key Concepts
Every lesson plan contains key concepts, themes or vocabulary that students need to grasp in order to master that particular topic. If you’re a biology teacher, for instance, you’ll teach key concepts like photosynthesis and genetics. Consider creating some short-form videos intended to reinforce these core concepts. Keep the videos short and focused, with only one concept per video.
Assign TikTok as Homework
Many students love to create their own TikTok videos. Why not capitalize on the trend by assigning TikTok as part of an optional homework assignment? Assign your students some sort of major project, like a research project or science experiment. As part of the assignment, the students will demonstrate their work on camera for the rest of the class to view.
This type of assignment can benefit students’ education on multiple levels. They may feel more engaged and interested in the assignment because it involves social media, and as such, they might be willing to put forth more effort than they otherwise would. In addition, creating a TikTok video may help students work on their public speaking and presentation skills, perhaps without feeling as much social pressure as could be imposed by standing in front of the class to deliver a presentation.
Encourage Interaction With the Duet Feature
TikTok has a duet function, which allows users to record their own videos in response to the original video. Teachers may ask students to use the duet feature for TikTok videos that encourage students to engage. For example, foreign language teachers can record a video that asks students to respond to questions or to take part in a non-English conversation by using the duet feature. This format could also work well for math assignments.
Correct Common Mistakes
Teachers often see students make the same mistakes over and over again — whether it’s incorrect grammar in an essay, concept misunderstandings, incorrect math formulas or some other frequent error. Consider keeping a list of common issues that you see in your students’ work and use that list to build a TikTok editorial calendar.
You can create brief videos that highlight those frequent mistakes and explain what students should do instead. For instance, if you’re an English teacher, you might use TikTok videos to explain the differences between the words “except” and “accept,” and to offer some examples of when to use each word.
Be Aware of Potential Issues
Although using TikTok in the classroom (and outside of it) can be impactful for students, teachers need to be aware of a few potential issues before moving forward.
No matter what type of school you teach in, whether public or private, it’s important to speak to school administrators about your intent to use TikTok educational content. Explain how you plan on using it and discuss how the school’s policies may cover social media usage. You may need to obtain permission, both from the school administration and from the parents of students in your classes.
It’s difficult to understate the importance of digital privacy and security, particularly when minor students are involved. Consider making your TikTok account private, which will prevent people outside of the school community from seeing your videos and your students’ interactions with them. You’ll need to accept students’ requests to follow your account so they can see your videos.
Access to TikTok
Not all students may have access to TikTok, and not all of them may have parental permission to use it. Anything that you post on TikTok should be accessible to students who do not use the social media platform. For instance, you could copy the videos to a Google drive folder and share access with all of your students.
It’s also a good idea to establish a TikTok commenting policy for your classroom. Implement commonsense guidelines that discourage students from engaging in cyberbullying. Explain to your students that any content they themselves upload for your class should follow the general school guidelines.
If you’re passionate about innovation in education and aspire to become a teacher, you can find a career-oriented degree program at Grand Canyon University. Apply to the Master of Arts in Communication with an Emphasis in Education degree program today, which teaches core principles of learning theories as applied to online and in-person classrooms. Complete the form on this page to take the first step toward furthering your education.
1 Maheshwari, S. and Holpuch, A. (2023, May 23). Why Countries Are Trying to Ban TikTok. The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
2 Langreo, L. (2022, November 16). Students are turning to TikTok for homework help. Is that a bad thing. EducationWeek. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
3 Malik, A. (2022, February 28). TikTok expands max video length to 10 minutes, up from 3 minutes. TechCrunch. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
Approved by the dean of the College of Education on July 28, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.