Learning has long played a role on platforms like reddit or YouTube, where channels like Kurzgesagt (or ‘In a Nutshell’) and VSauce have drawn millions of subscribers. But recently, there’s been an uptick in the number of people turning to social to learn: 74% of Gen Zers globally have used social to learn practical life skills, which is more than any older age group.
After a year of forced experimentation with work, schoolwork, and self-directed political education, social media is gaining new in-roads as an educational tool.
While the consensus is that the infrastructure, process and behaviour that are required to formally learn or train online are not quite ready, there’s a sense that informal learning in the feed can equip us with practical tools we’re not always able to get from conventional education systems. Out of the ashes of the pandemic, people have experienced small wins in everyday life that are pushing a new kind of in-feed education.
Learning journeys don’t necessarily end on social, but increasingly, it’s where they start – and where they’re nurtured.
This has exciting implications for the future, when digitised education will be normalised. Educational features will be embedded into digital spaces, and digital platforms will in turn improve the accessibility of education for all.
We’re seeing the start of this already. The Kenya-KAIST campus – which will open by September 2023 in the Konza Technopolis, near Nairobi – is a university that will be housed in an immersive virtual world, aiming to democratise access with digital tools. In the immediate future, though, people are harnessing digital platforms as jumping off points to envisage a wiser and more knowledgeable version of themselves.
From financial literacy to colloquial language skills to Black history, social is gaining traction as a place to pick up the skills we didn’t learn in school. German media brand Funk is teaching Gen Z women financial independence, while Spanish Instagram page @spainsays offers daily tips on colloquial words and phrases. People are looking to digital platforms for actionable info they can apply to daily life.