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Professors share expertise on YouTube

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Choe Jae-chun, a chair professor at Ewha Womans University, speaks in a video on his YouTube channel. Screen captured from his YouTube channel
Choe Jae-chun, a chair professor at Ewha Womans University, speaks in a video on his YouTube channel. Screen captured from his YouTube channel

By Bahk Eun-ji

Hyun Hae-nam, a professor of applied life sciences at Jeju National University located on the namesake scenic island, said he wasn't too familiar with YouTube before starting his own channel. He occasionally watched YouTube videos, but not often.

"I enjoy cycling. One day while I was riding, my bicycle suddenly experienced a problem and I found it difficult to repair it by myself," Hyun said.

"I searched for related information on the internet and found a video on YouTube that showed me how to fix the problem. It was very helpful," he said.
It was an a-ha moment that opened his eyes to the wonderful world of YouTube.

Hyun said he had finally found a suitable place where farmers could find the information they needed anytime, anywhere.

Hyun had always been looking for a way to share his knowledge and expertise about farming, such as information on fertilizers and agrochemicals, with other farmers.

Over the past 20 years, he has been drawing cartoons for a monthly magazine published by the Farmer's Newspaper, a nationally circulated daily newspaper. Since 2013, he has been running a community sharing information and materials about soil for farming, fertilizers and insects on Naver Band, a mobile application designed for online communities.

Hyun Hae-nam, a professor of applied life sciences college at Jeju National University, explains about fertilizer in a video on his YouTube channel. Screen captured from YouTube
Hyun Hae-nam, a professor of applied life sciences college at Jeju National University, explains about fertilizer in a video on his YouTube channel. Screen captured from YouTube

For a person like him who was also looking for a more effective medium to deliver information and share his expertise with the public, he realized that YouTube is a great tool to share the agricultural knowledge that most farmers are keen to learn.

He started his own YouTube channel to share the knowledge he has accumulated over the past 20 years through the videos because this format of education is easier for farmers to consume.

"My goal is to make it easy for farmers to find and watch videos on YouTube just by simply searching. For example, I want them to find out easily the difference between boron, borax and boric acid even months or years after I post a video about it."

Kim Jae-won, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University Law School, who runs his own YouTube channel, said many of his fellow professors have recently asked him about how to use video recording equipment such as cameras and microphones.

Kim, who had been considering ways to help students who find it difficult to follow courses taught in English, decided to open a channel on YouTube so that it could be a useful tool for his remote classes.

"In addition to helping students, I thought it would also be a good place to provide legal information to the public," Kim said.

"Not long ago, many of my fellow professors complained about teaching while looking at the camera rather than the students, but they have gradually got used to online lectures and now they're showing interest in running their own channels."

University professors who have adapted to the digital education environment, giving virtual lectures for nearly two years during the COVID-19 pandemic are now choosing YouTube as another channel of communication.

Through the video sharing platform, they are approaching viewers with a variety of lecture-based content ranging from general social issues to their specific area of expertise.

Choe Jae-chun, a chair professor at Ewha Womans University, has been posting humanities content that the general public can enjoy on YouTube since last year.

Choe communicates social issues from a biologist's perspective. The video titled "It's strange to have a child in Korea" recorded 1 million views in about three months.

In the video, Choe said, "Not giving birth is a very natural phenomenon from the perspective of evolutionary biologists."

"An animal that reproduces without food sources finds it difficult to survive in the evolutionary process," he said.

The video received a positive response, accruing nearly 10,000 likes, with comments such as, "The issue about the birth rate is a good one to be attacked, but it was such insightful content."

This captured image shows the YouTube channel of Kim Jae-won, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University Law School. Screen captured from YouTube
This captured image shows the YouTube channel of Kim Jae-won, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University Law School. Screen captured from YouTube

Another user wrote, "The professor's lecture was really easy to understand and fun to listen to. I was just vaguely thinking that the low fertility rate, which is prevalent globally, was caused by humans controlling their own population, but after listening to what Choe said, it came to me more clearly."

There are professors who communicate with the general public by delivering professional knowledge at a level that students can take courses on at universities.

On the channel of Kim Dae-young, professor of Hematology at Eulji University Hospital, subscribers wrote comments, saying, "I learned much about unfamiliar diseases thanks to your video."

On the YouTube channel of another professor, Bae Jin-young of the chemical engineering department at Sungkyunkwan University, one user left a comment, saying, "I had so much fun studying organic chemistry through this video, though I am an older person in my mid-60s."

However, not everyone responds positively to professors doubling as YouTubers.

Some professors focus more on their activities as YouTubers, and neglect their job of teaching students in classrooms.

A university student in Seoul said on condition of anonymity that "In the middle of the lecture, the professor was promoting his YouTube channel, so I watched a few of them but it made me feel uncomfortable because he promoted his political beliefs too much rather than sharing information or knowledge."

"I would like professors to spend more time preparing for lectures than producing their YouTube content," he said.


Bahk Eun-ji ejb@koreatimes.co.kr


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