Teaching via YouTube – “What we want to do above all else is inspire people”

ARD and ZDF offer the first educational YouTube channel for school children with “mustewissen”. (DPA/Image Alliance/Sebastian Kanert)

Regina Brinkman: Homework and then teaching after school – for most of them it’s annoying and not great at all. This format, available online from today, is more informal:

“Didn’t you pay attention in class? Hey, I’m Nicole and I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about math in school.” – “Hello, I’m Lisa, and this is my mustewissen Deutsch.” – “We two will accompany you in physics at school.” – “Today we devote ourselves to the topic of strength. How do you really differentiate between mass and weight?” – “History – When you hear that, what do you think? Maybe something like this here?” – “476, the beginning of the Middle Ages, 1492 – the French Revolution.” – “I am Mirko, and we will see each other often in the future, and then, I promise, you will have an overview.”

Brinkman: Yes, and Mirko Drochmann’s voice can be heard with us today. He’s one of the teachers involved in the tutoring format, which can be found on YouTube as of today. Mr. Drotschmann, you are in charge of history, and you have studied this subject as well. There was a lot to understand already in the trailer. In general, how does this format work?

Mirko Druchmann: It actually works quite simply, i.e. by looking around the channel every week and then watching a new video. There will be a new video every week and we’ll do it in chronological order. We start in the Middle Ages and then feel our way a little more. At some point we ended up in the modern age. We start with eighth grade for all kinds of schools, and at some point we end up in top grades.

“Of course you also have to look at a book for yourself.”

Brinkman: Yes, and history, you can already hear that a bit, it’s packaged in a slightly funky way, plus definitely other educational content like physics. Is this enough to get students to fit these subjects?

Druchmann: Yes, I hope so. What we want to do above all is to inspire and interest people in such topics, and then get them to do their own research. Of course it is not enough to watch a video or some videos from a series like this, but of course you should also look at a book yourself and create something on it yourself.

But videos should give you a bit of momentum. Because, unfortunately, this is our experience and also the feedback I get from students. I’ve been making educational videos in the broad sense for students on my YouTube channel for five years, and they still say, OK, the topics are very interesting, but often the teachers don’t understand them in a way that makes it interesting. I don’t want to say in general terms, of course not, there are a lot of good teachers, but some obviously don’t get it right. And we just want to spark a little excitement and curiosity.

Brinkman: Does this mean that someone who is bored in class in the morning can blossom again in the evening or in the afternoon with you?

Druchmann: Yes, so to speak, exactly. Or someone who missed something in class or looked at their smartphone and then didn’t pay attention and then left, can catch up with what they know with us.

Brinkman: Yes, you have your own YouTube channel, did I mention “Mr. Knowledge to go”. Now there is a huge bandwidth on the Internet, many of them are already familiar with it, many schoolchildren, they know how to gain knowledge. So why do we need this shape?

“Public broadcasters should be given the opportunity to continue in school”

Druchmann: This is a good question. There are now a lot of tutoring offers on YouTube. Some are run privately, like my channel, for example, and others are owned by companies. Now our new format is powered by Funk, the network of ARD and ZDF, the young show of ARD and ZDF.

And we simply said, OK, public broadcasters, they also have an educational mandate, and it’s important to understand education in a very traditional way, and public broadcasters should also give young people a chance, at school to come in and that’s why we want to use this educational mandate for something like that and also stand out a little bit from the shows that was available until now.

Well, on my channel, for example, the videos are very long, mostly 10-12 minutes. That’s a long time for YouTube. In the case of Musswissen’s history, the videos are usually between five and seven minutes, also on other musswissen channels, so they’re crispier, tighter, lots of graphics, and very colourful. And that’s just a slightly different approach, although I wouldn’t say it’s something completely new. There are other shows that do this as well.

“It is important to serve in bites”

Brinkman: What do you say to people who say, well, after all there is no other way to reach the Snapchat or Instagram generation. So the videos got shorter and shorter, and the attention span got shorter and shorter. Is this true?

Druchmann: Yes, that’s right, although I can already say from my own channel that the videos can be longer sometimes. When they’re too short, people complain and say, man, there wasn’t as much information as I would have liked. You just have to pack it properly, and then it can be even longer sometimes. But it is important, this is our experience, that we serve in bites. So making a video that covers all aspects of WWI, from the beginning to the last day of the war or to the Versailles peace treaty, is going to be a bit important. That’s why we try to convey the combined knowledge in short, but nonetheless big bits, in a way that makes you want to click on the next video.

Some teachers lack enthusiasm

Brinkman: Now, most teachers probably somehow won’t be able to create a YouTube video like this to engage their students in one way or another. What should they learn from you?

Druchmann: I don’t want to present myself as a better teacher. I didn’t study until I became a teacher, I just studied history. I think most teachers do this well. But what I also noticed over and over in school was that there were teachers who simply no longer had the enthusiasm for their subject that they might have had, and hopefully once had, and then wrap up their own thing. And when someone is excited, excited about something, the listeners are often excited too, or mostly excited, and the enthusiasm jumps. And I think it’s great when it happens so often with teachers. And that is what we want to convey through our videos, just convey the fun and enthusiasm about the thing, and also tell it in a way that you love to listen and not only disturb years in my case of history, but make everything a little more lively.

Brinkman: There is also support for cheating at the end. I read that there are cheat sheets about what I’ve learned on Facebook and Instagram.

Druchmann: Yes exactly. But that doesn’t mean people should hide it in a pencil case somewhere from the exam or stick it on the back of the bottle, it just means that what you hear should be written down again. So the videos are compressedly summarized in written form. It’s also an experience I’ve had on my channel, people keep saying, yeah, I’d love to co-write your video, but sometimes you talk too fast or I still have to think about something, and then I have to come back and press pause . Did you not know that? And we just want to provide that, so people get what they heard back when they go to school on the bus or they can take a look in the morning.

Brinkman: Well, I didn’t take notes either, but I enjoyed listening. Mirko Druchmann, Thank you very much for the interview!

Druchmann: gladly!

Statements made by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not take the statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.

Leave a Comment