Teacher streams class on Twitch, now has hundreds of viewers: “Was initially just for my students”
The teacher Mr. Gerold has been looking for new ways to reach his students and impart the knowledge to them. He found them on the platforms usually known for gaming: Twitch and YouTube.
The corona pandemic and the associated lockdowns have shifted many professional groups to the home office in order to reduce the risk of infection. This also included the teachers who held their classes via Zoom or similar services.
One of these teachers was Alex Gerold from Cologne, who went one step further. To accommodate his students, he started making videos of his classes YouTube upload and also on Twitch to stream.
We talked to “Mr. Gerold” about his streams in an interview.
“In the beginning, the videos were only intended for my students…”
MeinMMO: Hello! Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who are you? What do you do professionally and in your free time?
Alex: Hey, my name is Alex Gerold, I’m a vocational school teacher and IHK examiner from Cologne. I teach mainly in the apprenticeship as a clerk for office management. When I’m not at school, I do a lot of sport, meet up with friends or cheer on FC Köln in the stadium.
MeinMMO: You run Twitch and YouTube channels on your teaching topic. How did you get the idea to start streaming specifically?
Alex: Many teachers turned to tools like Zoom during the pandemic period. During the corona pandemic, we designed the online lessons with Microsoft teams. This worked great, but I wanted my students to be able to access the learning content at any time, independent of class time.
I got onto YouTube relatively quickly and “Herr Gerold” came into being. In the beginning, the videos were actually only intended for my students, but that’s how it sometimes goes (laughs).
The videos now have 2.5 million views. The idea of Twitch came to me by accident while zapping around on YouTube. That’s when I saw that a lot of YouTubers like Montanablack were uploading their live streams from Twitch to YouTube. That’s how I got on Twitch, thinking that this platform is perfect for providing live tutoring to a wide audience.
MeinMMO: You started with relatively short explanatory videos on various questions. What types of formats have you tried since then?
Alex: At the beginning I made many short videos with a maximum duration of 10 minutes. But sometimes it’s not that easy and certain things cannot be explained in such a short time or related in terms of content.
So I also made some longer videos that worked surprisingly well. It is important not to make the videos boring, but to use practical examples and explain things as simply as possible.
Once I did a quiz series. I was on a treasure hunt in the forest and viewers had to help me solve various puzzles with lesson questions. I had a lot of fun, but the videos didn’t get that many clicks (laughs).
“It’s unfamiliar at first to stream on Twitch in front of 200-300 viewers”
MeinMMO: How does the feedback from your viewers influence the content on your channel? For example, can they request a video on a specific topic?
Alex: I regularly do polls on YouTube, Twitch or Instagram. One notices that certain topics always come up frequently. This includes accounting or posting records. The response to these topics is also greater. I am generally in close contact with my community and answer all messages as best I can.
MeinMMO: In your experience, how do lessons and tutoring via YouTube and Twitch differ from normal frontal lessons via Zoom?
Alex: It’s initially unfamiliar to stream on Twitch in front of 200-300 viewers you don’t know while on Teams you’re only teaching your own class. But amazingly, you get used to it quickly and the same people keep popping up in the chat, so a group feeling quickly forms.
Of course, normal online lessons with the class are different and narrower simply because of the microfunction, but the fun factor with Twitch is quite high with the chat function and various tools such as raffles or quizzes.
MeinMMO: What advantages and disadvantages do you see for your work with Twitch and YouTube?
Alex: I think the biggest advantage is the awareness and popularity of the platforms among young people. I really enjoy doing something meaningful and I’m really happy about all the positive messages I get every day.
At the same time, however, the pressure to meet the demands and expectations of viewers is increasing. Many forget that this is my hobby and I’m not a full-time streamer or YouTuber. I am still a passionate teacher in the classroom.
The teaching channels don’t get enough attention
MeinMMO: What difficulties do you have to contend with as a teaching channel?
Alex: Viewers’ loyalty understandably only lasts as long as the training lasts. Why should you watch the tutorial videos again afterwards?
In addition, media and political attention is unfortunately not particularly high for teaching channels. Completely wrong. YouTubers like Teachers Schmidt or Daniel Jung saved the butts of a whole generation of students.
Social media is always entertainment. We live in a consumer society where everything has to be fast and fun. This is difficult with teaching channels (Mr. Attorney does this very well).
MeinMMO: Your channels were created in connection with the corona pandemic. What’s next for you now that the restrictions are lifted?
Alex: Corona was definitely a “boost” for the videos, but I still believe in the concept.
I recently started a podcast. I’m also trying out TikTok. Dance videos with my students eg cringe (laughs).
I don’t have any concrete plans. I keep going until I don’t enjoy it anymore. At the moment I’m having a lot of fun and the positive feedback motivates me to keep going.
MeinMMO: What tips would you give teachers who would like to connect more with their students?
Alex: Make it easy! And above all: Use the platforms that the students know. Talk to your students and ask them what they think and what they want. That’s the nice thing about the teaching profession: you’re very close to your target group.
We would like to thank Alex for the interview and wish him lots of fun and success in his activities on Twitch and YouTube.
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