Jeremy Littau wanted to generate some buzz about the multimedia reporting course he’ll teach next fall at Lehigh University, so he made a YouTube video about it. Mr. Littau, an assistant professor of journalism and communication, put the video up last week, before registration started. So far the advertisement seems to be working.
A browse through YouTube suggests that relatively few instructors promote their classes there, and that many of those who do are teaching online courses. In some videos, professors talk straight into the camera and give an overview of the course. Others show still and moving pictures of the subject matter. Mr. Littau’s video uses interviews with current students about what they learned and footage that they produced in the course.
Mr. Littau e-mailed the video to journalism majors and posted a link to it on Facebook and Twitter. He still sends copies of the syllabus to students who ask about the class, but he thinks the link to the video may be more helpful. “A syllabus can’t go viral,” he adds.
“Viral,” of course, is a relative term. The 80-plus views of the Journalism 198 video don’t compare with the millions of views of YouTube sensations, but Mr. Littau bets that most of his video’s views are from curious students. Even nonjournalism students, who may not have been aware of the course otherwise, are inquiring about it.
Faculty membes can have a hard time filling classes, but videos could help, he says. “It’s not that the students aren’t interested, and it’s not that the teachers are bad. It’s because you haven’t found a way to sell that to them. People are so used to be advertised to, if we haven’t figured out a way to sell our value to them, we may have a hard time reaching them.”