By Ray Duffy
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed both students and faculty in all courses of study at SVC to innovate and use new methods in education. Dr. Michael Rhodes, an associate professor of biology, is no exception. He turned to the popular social media app TikTok to help his students keep learning despite the circumstances.
Of particular note is a video Rhodes posted on Oct. 4, which has gained over 1.7 million views at the time of publication, with over 205,000 likes and more than 2,000 comments. The TikTok shows Rhodes demonstrating the concepts of supination and pronation with his body to the tune of the song “Everybody Dance Now” in the background.
Rhodes said he heard of the app because of how much time students spent using it.
“Even after hearing about it from the students, I didn’t really know what it was,” he said.
But when Coronavirus forced Saint Vincent to shift to online learning last spring, Rhodes decided to find out.
“I wanted to reassure students that I would do everything in my power to keep them engaged during that precarious time,” Rhodes explained. “So I said, ‘I’ll even make some TikToks,’ not even really knowing exactly what that meant! So I started making some videos, and my students seemed to really like them, which inspired me to continue to make them on through the summer and fall.”
Rhodes said that using TikTok as an educational medium carries both advantages and disadvantages.
“The advantages are that it keeps my students engaged and really seems to help students grasp some of the materials I’m covering in lecture and lab. The disadvantage, and real challenge, is being able to demonstrate a concept in 15 or 30 seconds, but I believe it has been a great exercise in honing my ability to deliver complex information in a succinct time frame,” Rhodes said.
Despite his content having been seen by millions of viewers from around the world, Rhodes remains focused on his students.
“What really means the most to me is recognizing my students' names in the list of likes that I receive, and in seeing their excitement about my videos going viral,” Rhodes said. “In the end, no matter how much attention my videos get, they are all inspired by and ultimately for my SVC students, who all mean so much to me.”