TikTok Teaching and Learning

TikTok! What a revolutionary way of engaging students in learning.

Goodbye to the past curricular days where students sit quietly at their desks, completing endless worksheets until the bell rings for the next class, possibly, completing the similar, tiresome assignments.

Hello to a more upbeat social media platform that allows students to get out their seats to generate excitement for learning—TikTok.

TikTok allows its participants to be creative by posting videos that illustrate hilarious or meaningful content. Almost everybody likes to be amused, and more than not like to learn new, beneficial lessons. TikTok welcomes these opportunities.

If perusing videos on TikTok—warning: much of its topics can be provocative, perhaps excessively so, for high schoolers, and for this reason, some educators prefer to stay away from TikTok; yet, with careful monitoring, the unsavory topics can be waived by teachers and responsible students.

TikTok pulls viewers through its magic, and, if not mindful, TikTok can hold the attention of viewers for an inordinate amount of time. This revelation is good news for classroom teachers looking for innovative ways to engage their students in learning “until the bell rings.”

In sooth, many students are already a participant on TikTok, for TikTok conveys the language that young students speak–jargon, slang, opprobrious in some cases, and TikTok’s language is what many participants prefer to spend their time listening to. Participants are smitten with watching, creating, learning.  

Regardless of the reluctance on some educators’ parts to use TikTok in the classroom, some students will stealthily watch videos on their cellphones. Therefore, since TikTok is a hit with young students, teachers would be teaching in the zeitgeist by adding TikTok to their lesson plans.

In an article from Education Week, “TikTok: Powerful Teaching Tool or Classroom Management Nightmare” (Klein 2019), https://www.edweek.org/technology/tiktok-powerful-teaching-tool-or-classroom-management-nightmare/2019/11,  “TikTok video-sharing platform is becoming increasingly popular with tweens and teens, and some teachers have started using it in their classrooms.”

However, what do educators need to know about TikTok before they add it to their lesson plan?

First, teachers should be cognizant of the need for TikTok: If the platform will not engage students in responsible learning, if the platform will not aid the teacher in instilling knowledge about a subject matter, if the platform will bring anarchy to the classroom, for these few reasons, TikTok might not be a clever move to enhance student learning.

On the other hand, if students are already familiar with TikTok and enjoy its purpose, if students can learn subject matter through their creativity with the use of TikTok, if teachers can manage classroom management while synthesizing TikTok’s influence, then, to entertain the idea of implementing TikTok in the lesson plans, is a sensible decision to embrace.

Jeffrey Young (2021) via EdSurge shares, “Some teachers have gone viral on TikTok.”
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.edsurge.com/amp/news/2021-01-26-teachers-are-going-viral-on-tiktok-is-that-a-good-thing. TikTok has brought forth a revolutionary style of showing what teachers execute in the classroom and how they transport their jobs; TikTok has also brought forth “fun” in the classroom, an element often found missing in the classroom, according to seminal research.

Thus, TikTok can be a positive or a negative instrument for classroom teaching and learning, depending on teachers and how they convey TikTok into classroom instruction for student learning.

Educators might consider conducting research on TikTok to determine the validity of its platform and its appropriateness for classroom instruction.

In the end, what matters the most is that students learn assigned standards for teaching and that teachers continue to be accountable for meaningful instruction.

Cynthia Mathews

Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction

Classroom Teacher

Professional Development Presenter


Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.