I've seen educators on TikTok and Instagram but I haven't used either of them although, like everyone else, I use YouTube videos all the time. But how does video sharing work, how do my students use it, what are the risks and how might I use these platforms in my teaching? 

VIDEO SHARING - GETTING STARTEDIf you are familiar with platforms like Instagram, YouTube or TikTok, what do you see as the differences between them? Have you used them or are you basing this on what you're read about them?

Sharing video online is an integral part of many social media, apps and online services.

Videos can be shared with a limited group of users or may be publicly available for everyone to view, access and download. 

People video content (usually from their mobile device) and then live stream it or upload it to a site which then can be shared to either a limited group of people or to anyone.


YouTube 2.2 billion
Vimeo 1.6 million
IGTV by Instagram 1.3 billion
TikTok 1 billion
Twitch 40 million
DailyMotion 300 million

These figures change all the time, and the pandemic has increased the number of users very quickly for almost all apps. There are also a huge range of educational platforms that are based on, or use, video sharing functions.


Most video sharing platforms do not allow users who are younger than 13 (although there are now some platforms that are designed for younger users such as YouTube Kids).   


YouTube has come a long way since two researchers, Troy Jones and Kristen Cuthrell, described it as a "vast wasteland of garbage and social parody that adds nothing to the learning process.”

YouTube, and other platforms are now home to a vast array of content that is used in all kinds of teaching contexts. Increasingly, students are creating some of that content themselves.

Some of the benefits of creating video, when incorporated into student-centred learning activities, include:

Increased student motivation
Enhanced learning experience
The potential for deeper learning of the subject
Development of learner autonomy
Enhanced team working and communication skills
A source of evidence relating to skills for interviews
Learning resources for future cohorts to use

The opportunities to use video in learning and teaching are many and varied. These include: 

Summative assignments. Video is especially powerful when asking students to summarise and explain what they have learned in a class, assignment or project and share with their peers. 

Immediate response. Video is an immediate, vivid and easy to use way to ask students to reflect on a specific question or to share their reactions. 

Reflection. Capturing students' in-the-moment reflections on what and how they are learning can be valuable. Video is a much easier medium than writing. 


There is very little regulation of video sharing platforms and many, like YouTube, rely on the community understanding and abiding by community guidelines and flagging problematic content for removal. YouTube also uses AI and human moderation to remove content that violates their policies

In general, though, teachers should be aware of the same issues that students should consider:

Unauthorised sharing of videos. Once videos are online they can be taken by others or repurposed.

Inappropriate content. On streaming sites videos are often live and there are no filters to protect people from what they see.

Privacy. As video can inadvertently reveal personal details.

Reputational damage. Video published online is permanently available (or easily copied).


Before using this platform, am I certain I understand how it works, especially features around privacy management?

What other options exist to do what I want to do - and have I evaluated them?

Does video - whether watching or creating - fit with my learning objectives and encourage engagement?

Is this platform blocked by school filters and firewalls? 

Does the platform conform to school or department guidelines? 


TikTok is one of the most successful video sharing apps.

What TikTok offers is social, engaging atmosphere that, compared to self-paced online learning, creates a sense of belonging. 

It has become one of the largest learning platforms in the world. The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok currently has more than 150 billion views, #education has 20 billion views and individual teachers are gaining millions of views and followers. The TikTok teacher @Iamthatenglishteacher posts TikTok grammar lessons and now has 1.5 million followers, for example.

You can read about how more teachers are using TikTok here.

teachers on TikTok

But there have been lots of concerns raised about TikTok - how it uses personal data, inappropriate content on the platform and the amount of time people are spending using it.

These issues have been well-documented but it is wise to sort fact from fiction. For example, TikTok doesn’t appear to collect any more personal information than Facebook and there is little evidence that TikTok is sharing data with China, but it is wise to recognise that TikTok (like all platforms) collects a lot of data about its users. There are also signs that TikTok, along with other platforms are taking these issues seriously

You can read an article about TikTok in education by Dr Peter Thomas and Lauren Sayer on Medium. 

To get the most from TikTok, as with other video-sharing apps, it's probably wise to first understand how to control who sees and can comment on videos.

TikTok has a number of privacy settings as you can learn about in this video from Howfinity on YouTube. 

TikTok of course isn't the only video creation and sharing platform, and we can expect to see more platforms that allow people to create video content, such as Vimeo which has carved out a niche for ad-free, beautifully presented videos with a range of customisation options and features for in-app editing, screen recording and streaming, and a short-form video creation tool called Vimeo Create

And, finally, a platform emerging from its roots in gaming is Twitch, a live streaming platform with 140 million monthly viewers. 

You can learn more about the use of Twitch in education in this podcast by Dr Peter Thomas and Lauren Sayer, on Soundcloud.