The video platform Youtube was launched in 2005, and while it was not the first video sharing website, it would lead to a fundamental change in the communication of ideas. What was once the domain of longer documentary subjects for broadcast or film, could be created in smaller segments by independent creators for smaller target audiences. Sixteen years later, the platform known as TIkTok has accelerated this bite-size communication approach and, along with a global pandemic forcing teachers and students to reevaluate their methodology, may also lead to a change in how knowledge is disseminated. A variety of online video platforms have tools for engagement metrics built-in that allow a producer to see how long the average user remains viewing the content, along with the section of the video that is viewed the longest, or the most. The trends of this data might be cause for some to lament future generation’s “shorter attention spans”, but it also might be a clue to how we begin to reinterpret video as a searchable version of a book’s appendix or glossary, using shorter segments for micro-subjects. Shorter segments of video, each with titles and metadata, would allow students to find and reference helpful videos as necessary when they are needed to help them with their studies. These shorter segments tend to skip the preamble and introductions associated with longer videos, and can be repeated or looped to aid in information retention. This article will compare and contrast two methods of communicating content from teacher to student; one using traditional methods of recording lectures or producing videos of longer length, up to one hour in some cases. The second reduces the content to no longer than 90-120 second videos for each micro-subject. Students are polled and tested for qualitative and quantitative feedback during the course of this process.
Gary D. Jacobs currently teaches 3D Digital Design at the Rochester Institute for Technology. He has owned and operated Jacobs Illustration for over 20 years, specializing in public space concept designs for architects, engineers, performing arts, and themed entertainment clients, including Walt Disney World Entertainments, Busch Gardens, and San Francisco Opera.