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Vidcon and Edutube and Me

by Sayraphim on May 15, 2019

So mid 2017 I decided I’d properly start up an edutube youtube channel.

I’d been making videos for a while and I had the MonsterThinks channel for an unrelated reason (ok, a job interview I went for didn’t *require* a video about yourself but they said it’d help. So I made one. And got the job) but I’d been planning how to launch it and quietly putting up some videos so there’d be some content there when I launched it. Then I discovered that Vidcon was coming to Melbourne for the first time and that people with channels could enter a comp to win a free ticket. So that decided me, and I launched the channel. I had a week before the comp closed, so each day I made one of the videos public and then entered my channel trailer into the comp.

Turns out I didn’t win. But hey, it meant I had a public channel up and running with some videos on and that I’d launched myself publicly as a youtuber.

Also, I knew that a channel trailer didn’t really cut is as far as comp entries go, but it was the best I had at the time (vids had to be less than a minute as I recall, everything else I had was much longer than that).

I was really excited for the first Vidcon, because I wanted to meet other people who made videos, but specifically I wanted to meet edutubers.

I had watched a couple of ‘me at Vidcon’/’first timers experience at vidcon’ type videos as prep for the experience and decided I’d make my own. So here it is:

 

I could just leave the video there as a record of my experience, and as I’m about to start a phd on edutube I feel like a video should be perfectly acceptable on it’s own without needing any explanation. But because I want to break it down a little more, let’s have a chat about my experience. Also I focused only on the positive in the video and so, let’s talk about the experience as a whole.

I went hoping for lots of panels talking about how to do a youtube channel, educational folk talking about what they do, that kind of thing. I got there on the first day and there was a lot of young folk screaming for their favourite celebrities. This continued all weekend.

I purchased a CREATOR ticket, which means you can go to any of the panels on the CREATOR or COMMUNITY channels. To my disappointment I couldn’t find any edutube panels on the CREATOR track, so I did a call out on twitter to say “Educators! Let’s meet up!” and I got a response from someone named Kelli (the excellent Kelli from from Kelli’s Channel as a matter of fact) who had come down from Brisbane to meet educators too. I was SO excited to meet another educator! Over twitter messages, Kelli and I decided to do a call out to other educators to come meet us for coffee at a certain time. We got retweeted by Vidcon’s twitter account and we had about 10 people turn up, including Jade, who had not yet begun Misskokolib but was just about to.

You can see my excitement in the video 🙂

Buoyed by this success, and finding that there were indeed other folk out there interested in educational youtube, that night I went home and started up the Australian and New Zealand Youtube Educators group (catchy title huh. BUt I wanted to it be super clear what it was and ‘edutube’ isn’t as well known term as the words I did choose). Kelli had pointed out that there was a edutube panel on the COMMUNITY track the next day, so I made it my mission to go to that.

The next day on the way in, I tweeted at each of the edutube panel about the new fb group, hoping that one or all of them might retweet it.

None of them did.

The thing I didn’t understand about vidcon til I went there was that it is so very, VERY about celebrity, and especially anything on the COMMUNITY track. Although the tracks are fluid in content, and panels on the CREATOR track are also celebrity driven, anything on the COMMUNITY track is just focused on the famous people on the panel that the screaming youth in the audience really want to see. So the educators panel on the COMMUNITY track included Hank Green and some other famous edutubers which are all in the video but I can’t recall off the top of my head, and the moderator, another famous edutuber, just asked them celebrity type questions (What is your favourite… If you were stuck on a desert island…) and really, I heard nothing in the 40 minutes that related to education at all.

At the end of the panel, as the audience were filling out, I stood on a chair and shouted about the new facebook group. I got mostly blank stares or startled looks and then Kelli, Jade and I bolted before we got thrown out by security guards.

And that was it for edutube. Vidcon finished, Kelli went back to Brisbane, Jade and I said goodbye and then I spent an inordinate amount of time checking the FB group as it slowly, slowly grew (two years on and it’s just under 100 at the moment. Hooray!)

The other odd thing about Vidcon is that they put tickets on sale the moment they announce a few of the youtubers who are going to be there, and they slowly release more and more names but it’s only really right near the actual ‘conference’ that they release the agenda. So it’s very hard to tell if there’s going to be panels you want to go to, but if you’re desperate to see Hank Green or Grace Helbig you’ll know early on that you want to be there. Which, I think, speaks to why it exists and who it’s audience actually is (as opposed to who it SAYS it’s audience is) and what Vidcon thinks it’s audience wants. Which, to be fair, is probably pretty on the money, otherwise they’d have changed it by now. The majority of it’s audience DOES want to see their favourite youtubers in the flesh.

But that’s not what I want out of Vidcon.

So 2018 arrives and slowly, Vidcon starts announcing which youtubers are going to be in Melbourne this year. But I have no idea if edutube will even appear on the agenda this year. But they do a call out asking people to submit ideas for networking sessions. So I submit an edutube networking session, which they accept.

So now I’m hosting an edutube networking session for 40 minutes to whoever turns up. I know at least Kelli and Jade will be there, so I’m not feeling too nervous about no one turning up to my party.

It turns out that the only other edutube event this year is a panel on the INDUSTRY track. Which I can’t get into because I haven’t paid for an INDUSTRY ticket. So I’m hosting the only edutube anything that the majority of ticket holders can get to.

No pressure.

Before the networking session, Kelli, Jade and I decide to do a quick video about a discussion we’ve been having for a while now, on the actual definition of edutube.

We finish that about 20 minutes before the edutube networking session. So we head over to the room it’s going to be held in. The last networking session is just wrapping up. It’s an Australian YouTuber session, or a Victorian Youtubers session, or something like that, and the room is packed. Properly packed. Weaving your way through nightclub crowds packed. And I get nervous, what happens if there’s this many people at the edutube networking session? I mean, how great that there’d be so many edutubers, but what the hell am I gunna do if that is the case? This networking session is clumps of people chatting and exchanging business cards and every 5 minutes or so they announce some kind of raffle or door prize, so there’s a constant stream of folk happily going up to the front to claim prizes.

I glumly wish I’d thought of that.

They all slowly file out and it’s just me, Kelli and Jade left in the room. We have been chatting over email what we’re planning to do, we’re going to sit everyone in a circle and get everyone to introduce themselves, chat about the state of edutube, see what happens.

People start arriving and it’s good, we get about 20ish people there over the course of the session. We introduce ourselves and talk about edutube. At the end I invite anyone who would like to to come over and be filmed about what their definition of edutube is.

And again, that was it for edutube. I made two videos about it, I hosted a networking session, we got some more folk interested in the FB group, but without me pushing all this, there would have been nothing for anyone who didn’t pay the $1000 to be on the INDUSTRY track.

I wont speak for how Kelli felt about it all, but this is what she put up on FB.

Text reads “When you’re feeling fucking cynical about the super commericalisation of a social media conference/their insistence that they care about your edutube efforts/ any claim that they’re passionate about anything other than making money off your efforts”

 

Finding that image on FB made me rediscover this image on the left too, which I uploaded with the following comment: So this is a thing I achieved today. A year ago I went to vidcon aus with hope in my heart but was disappointed there was no educational youtube (edutube) panels. I did a call out on twitter and got an informal meetup at the cafe over coffee. I met about 8 other edutubers including the excellent Jade Koekoe, Nicky Shinn and Kelli McGraw who are now friends and comrades in mischief. Then I spent a year emailing vidcon in a friendly way asking them for more (any) edutube content for 2018. They didn’t organise any panels, but elected me to run an edutube networking session. Today I sat with 20 other edutubers and built on the foundations of last year. The community is growing and youtube is starting to notice that education is an important aspect of youtube and theres keen educators out there making content. Last year I didnt know anyone doing it but me. This year our fb group is just under 100. I’m pretty fucking proud of this moment right here captured by Philip Wong and by the comment below posted by someone at the session.

So 2019 rolls around. And Vidcon is starting once again to announce their featured creators. And the agenda will not be announced until tickets are much more expensive. And I’m holding off deciding whether to go or not.

On the one hand, because of Vidcon, I have met the two main supporters and fellow travellers of this edutube journey I’ve embarked on, Kelli and Jade. On the other hand, 3 out of the 4 edutube experiences I’ve had at Vidcon over the last 2 years I’ve created myself. And I want to meet more edutubers, and Vidcon is the only general public youtube conference where I might meet more.

But is all those ‘wants’ and ‘mights’ enough to make me spend $300 on the off chance they’ll cater to my particular obsession?

I’m holding out until I see the agenda.

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