The alumni relations editorial team interviews Diploma Programme (DP) alumnus JT Yeung, Yew Chung International School of Beijing, about his journey to become a YouTube vlogger and how the medium can be used as a valuable resource for students.
Story by Sky Brandt and Ocie Grimsley
JT Yeung has been reading and watching videos on science topics for years, but it wasn’t until early 2017 that he discovered he had the skills and talent to tackle the world of video blogging. In his last semester of undergraduate studies, he enrolled in a course on science communication at the University of Melbourne with one surprising twist: “It [was] mandatory for everyone to contribute to the University of Melbourne student science blog, Scientific Scribbles.” With the guidance and encouragement of his lecturer, Dr Jenny Martin, he found a passion for science communication. This class changed the way he would think about blogs and YouTube forever, he says, “I really got into writing about science and trying to simplify complex topics.”
I enjoy knowing to the last detail how things happen and why things are the way they are.
His first video essay was born out of a creative project for the course and he sought inspiration from other popular channels: “I have always [watched] Vsauce, Veritasium, In a Nutshell, CGP Grey, Numberphile…there are so many channels on YouTube which have great educational content.” When winter break arrived in Australia, he found the time to take on a video project seriously and had already done the background research for an article he published in Scientific Scribbles. “I finally decided to give [YouTube] a try, record the clips and make a video using one of the blog articles that I wrote” he says, “It was a great place for me to release my creativity, in contrast to all the memorising I was doing for my classes.”
His first video takes a deep dive into Formula 1 racing:
“Why and how questions fascinate me the most” he tells us, “I like to write them down and do a Google search on everything about [them] when I have time.” This hunger for knowledge helped drive his interest in crafting essays and translates directly into his video. “I enjoy knowing to the last detail how things happen and why things are the way they are.”
When preparing for a video, JT tells us, “[it is] definitely like writing an essay … the majority of the time for preparing a video is spent on researching.” He constantly reminds himself to be careful to keep only necessary information in the final script, noting, “it is always a struggle to be brief in your writing.” This important advice about writing originally came from his DP English literature teacher, Evangelos Dasopatis: “[He] reminded me to remove anything that is irrelevant to your thesis, no matter how unique you think the evidence is.”
YouTube is a popular medium for people of all kinds, from students to experts in their respective fields, but it has also come under scrutiny in recent months for the accuracy of its content and how well viewers are able to spot fraudulent material. We asked JT how he assesses what he watches. “I recently came across an acronym,” JT explained, “for analysing the source of your content.” This acronym was CRAP, standing for Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose. Along with verifying credibility using his own judgment, he told us, “I like to keep to a few trusted sources, and there are sites that call out … internet rumours … the key is being skeptical and understanding all sides of an argument before coming to a decision.”
YouTube vlogs can be found for all kinds of topics, even DP courses. JT mentioned, “there are tons of resources for IB students in terms of video blogs.” JT believes students can benefit from YouTubers like Richard Thornley who teaches at the Anglo-American School of Moscow or Stephanie Castle at the United National International School. Both teach DP courses and produce videos on one of JT’s favorite topics: biology. Thornley and Castle’s videos are broken down into lessons with incorporated illustrations and even video games to help explore some topics. “Educational YouTube channels are everywhere” JT says, “I don’t think I need to praise how great of a tool YouTube has been to all of us.”
Have you used YouTube as reference material or a study guide? Send us examples that supported your education on twitter @IBAlumniNetwork.
Jun-Ting Yeung graduated from Yew Chung International School of Beijing and is currently a Bachelor of Biomedicine (Hons) student at The University of Melbourne. Look for more stories from JT Yeung, who joins us this year as a 2018 alumni contributor to share his experience as a recent graduate.
Sky Brandt manages communications projects for alumni and parents at the IB and is based out of Washington, DC. Ocie Grimsley is a student at George Mason University and is completing an internship at the IB.