I like to think I’m reasonably up to date with what’s happening, especially when it comes to studying and learning but I have to confess I have only recently come across what are called “study with me videos”, which have actually been around for more than 5 years. Study with me videos are exactly what they say they are, a type of video in which people prepare for an exam on camera, while others watch and study at the same time, it’s literally a video of someone studying, either live streamed or recorded.
Before we go any further its worth taking a look at some of these videos.
Firstly, Thomas Frank who describes himself as a video creator and writer with a focus on productivity, learning, and personal development. Thomas has a huge following on YouTube with nearly three million subscribers, although he offers far more than just study with me videos, here is one of his, a 25-Minute Pomodoro Session.
Secondly a Korean YouTuber who broadcasts under the name of “the man sitting next to me”. In Korean they call making these video gongbang, which translates to “study broadcast”. Normally the man sitting next to me live streams but here is a recording with a background rain sound effect thrown in for good measure.
And thirdly Jamie Lee, who lives in New York and has a YouTube channel called “The Strive to Fit.” She started her channel when she was in medical school but even though she has now qualified as a doctor she continues to broadcast. Unlike The Man Sitting Next to Me, Jamie’s “study with me” video are pre-recorded. Two clips from Jamie, the first a typical study session, with background music, its already had 1.3 million views, and secondly a get to know me video where Jamie answers questions.
What purpose do they serve?
As you can see from these videos each person has their own individual style with some streaming live whilst others are pre-recorded and slightly more professional with music, the sound of rain or pen on paper etc. As a slight aside if you just want the background noise and a relaxing scene, here are a few more videos, an ancient library with a roaring fire, a cosy library with jazz playing in the background and heavy rain that will apparently help you throw away that stress.
But what’s the point of these videos, why do people find them helpful?
- Motivational and help with feelings of isolation – the YouTubers who make these videos are all students, they are therefore by definition the same as the people watching, and if they can sit down for two and a half hours and study, I guess you can do the same. Rather than getting in with a “bad crowd” you’re in with the good guys, they are hardworking, studious, and ambitious, their behaviour and attitude can and does rub off. This is consistent with Albert Banduras social learning theory, where he discovered that when people observe others they begin to model and imitate their behaviours. In addition, these are communities, comments are made underneath the videos by the many students that watch them, reminding you that you are not alone, and that others are feeling the same pressures. These YouTubers often connect on a personal level, by explaining why they work so hard and sharing details of their personal lives, successes and failures. To all intents and purpose, they are your study buddy.
- Excellent for time management – the Pomodoro technique, which was mentioned above is where you break your studying down into short 25-minute sessions, these videos work very much in the same way by helping manage your time. In fact, as you saw in the Thomas Frank video, he actually studies for exactly 25 minutes. There is also some evidence to show that studying like this in short bursts helps with memory and improved attention.
- An inspiring learning environment – environment plays an important when it comes to learning, having a physical location where you study can get you into the right mood as soon as you enter it. It’s one of the reasons people go to a library, you know that before you walk through those doors what you are there for and need to do. As a result, when you sit down at your desk open up your laptop and put on your study with me video, it’s time to start work.
- Good study practice – in addition to producing the study with me videos many YouTubers will offer up study tips such as how to use mind maps, memory skills, effective note taking etc.
- But the research shows that silence is the best – it may be that the sound of rain or the scribbles of a pen on paper help you feel less isolated, almost all of the research in this area has shown that problem solving and memory recall tasks are performed better in silence. As a result, there may be a time when you would be best just turning the sound down.
- They help the YouTuber as well – most of those making these videos acknowledge that because they feel a responsibility to their fellow students it motivates them to study as well.
One final observation about these videos they are not collaborative in the sense that students work together in order to solve a problem, that’s just not what they are trying to achieve.
But which one is best, Top Gun or study with me videos?
In the interests of balance, here is the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick for you to decide for yourself.