Social media giant TikTok is partnering with hundreds of universities, experts and charities to create educational content for the platform.
English Heritage, The Prince’s Trust and The University of Cambridge are among the partners that will produce personalized content at launch.
Other contributors include actors, singers and psychologists, who bring together a wide range of skills.
The new focus could appeal to the trend of micro-learning, said one expert.
TikTok has been downloaded more than two billion times on iOS and Android since it was launched globally in 2017. It allows users to make videos up to 15 seconds long, with music playing in the background.
With its success based on user-generated entertainment videos, the choice to integrate professionally produced learning content marks a significant change as the company tries to diversify its content.
At launch, the videos will include British actor Sean Sagar who share tips on preparing for the auditions and television presenter and mathematician Rachel Riley who helps develop math skills.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Click, Rich Waterworth, general manager of TikTok for Europe, said that the platform has noticed user interest in educational videos, with over seven billion views of the hashtag #LearnOnTikTok.
“In the future, LearnOnTikTok is about us investing in partners and content creators with a wide range of professional content … We think it’s about applying the power of TikTok to learning: the effects, the audio, the transitions, the tools that make it so engaging and fun, to make people like to learn. “
Martin Jefferies, social media manager of English Heritage, a charity that manages over 400 historic sites in the UK, believes that access to TikTok’s younger audience offers an opportunity to explore different types of content.
“We think TikTok is a safe space to explore stories that matter most to young people, so things like black history, LGBTQ stories from some of our sites, even the history of women – it feels like a very safe and welcoming environment.”
With the introduction of professionally produced videos along with user-generated content, Jamie MacEwan, research analyst at Enders Analysis, suggests that the former Disney streaming manager who takes command of TikTok, could indicate a new direction for the platform. .
“TikTok really wants to expand its appeal and we will see more structured and premium content in the future. This connects to the new CEO, Kevin Mayer, from Disney. We know him as a content deal-maker and we’re sure to see other partnerships move forward. “
At Disney, Mayer oversaw the successful launch of the company’s streaming service Disney Plus in November 2019. It now has over 50 million subscribers. He was also considered a key figure in the acquisitions of the Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel company.
With the app focused on content in abbreviated form, Dr. Elizabeth Hidson, senior professor of education at the University of Sunderland, points out that the platform will follow an existing trend in online learning.
“Most of us will be familiar with the idea of going online to find instructional videos,” he said. “This idea of small learning units is already well established in online education: we call it micro-learning.”