I have an AARP card, so I’m banned from Snapchat, TikTok, and most social media – the exception is Facebook. Yet, age discrimination doesn’t prevent me from using a delivery style that appeals to students and maximizes instructional humor.
College students are rabid, skilled media consumers. Though algorithms control their viewing habits, students are obsessively aware of time. Their life mission is to watch as many videos as possible, so they ignore clips longer than ten minutes.
A typical educator rant is to criticize the attention span of today’s students. Yet, their media preferences mirror the findings of memory research – it’s easier to retain small chunks of information.
The variables that impact memory retention also influence humor appreciation. Humor can get buried or lost in longer pieces, so comedians write and perform in chunks – jokes, gags, or bits. Humor also loses its efficacy as an instructional tool when embedded in extended pieces.
There’s another factor that encourages the chunking of lecture material. Students’ preferred viewing device is a phone. Can you picture a student holding a phone for 45-minutes to watch a lecture?
It’s impossible to explain complex concepts in a TikTok format. Yet, nothing prevents instructors from dividing a lengthy video presentation into memory and humor-friendly modules. My lecture videos are about ten minutes, and every video announcement or explanation averages five minutes. Students will more likely watch a “reasonable” video lecture, retain the material, and appreciate the pedagogical humor.