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Does Twitch Have a Place in Education?

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Phil Hobrla

on 2 March 2015

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Transcript of Does Twitch Have a Place in Education?

Twitch: What is It?
Twitch (sometimes stylized as Twitch.tv) is an Amazon.com-owned site and app-based platform through which gamers can stream gameplay, either directly from compatible devices or via hardware workarounds. Central to Twitch's value is its focus on the social nature of game viewing. Through an integrated IRC-like group chat feature and allowance for Markdown-authored user profiles, Twitch encourages visitors to become regulars and regulars to become content creators. Twitch launched in June 2011.
Does Twitch Have a Place in Education?
Twitch and Education: Unexplored Territory
Phil Hobrla

Twitch is a live-streaming service that has opened up a whole new paradigm of spectatorship in PC and console gaming.

However, it remains to be seen whether Twitch can function as an appropriate and extensible platform through which formal learning can take place or be supplemented. More research is needed; perhaps researchers such as Mr. Mejuer need to receive institutional support so that they can further research the role and efficacy of this and other live-streaming services in education.
Embedded in the OSes of several game consoles, and has viewing apps for iOS and Android.
IRC-based group chat
Picture-in-picture capability
User profiles with Markdown formatting
Subscribe buttons for both games and users
Cody Mejeur's Uses for Twitch in Education
"My current knowledge of twitch.tv usage is mostly using it like YouTube–providing videos and broadcasts to talk about in class"
"I also see Twitch.tv being useful for creating and disseminating lecture materials with games [and about games [...] This could be used to make original and innovative game lectures without too much hassle."
"Twitch.tv broadcasting provides means for recording and sharing group play experiences. Groups of students can work together on gaming projects and record their proceedings, giving the instructor something to observe and comment on even if they cannot be present for the play itself."
Some Potential Uses in Education
Social skills therapy for youth and adults with ADHD and/or ASD
Teaching/learning through simulations and narration on/discussion about the same
Third space ("common/rec room") for online learning cohorts or homeschoolers
Tutorials on in-game physics and out-of-game science
Venue for social research ("people-watching") assignments
Works Cited
Role of Extant Non-Game Content
At the queried time, ~6% of users were watching game shows.
Combined game shows generally rank in the top 12.
This reveals that Twitch.tv users are open to non-game (although still gaming-related) content
This is essential if teachers and ID practitioners are to use Twitch as a teaching tool
Research: Good and Bad News
There is almost no peer-reviewed research on Twitch and education.
I did, however, find four academic articles from which I could establish several facts about Twitch and about learning via live-streaming and group chat.
Thankfully, I was able to have a brief email exchange with one Cody Mejuer (@CMejeur), a Ph.D student within the English Department at Michigan State University.
Set, Net, or Group?
Consult Dron and Anderson's
Teaching Crowds
for a more thorough understanding of the tripartite division of teachable crowds into groups, sets, and networks
Twitch is a network...
It is focused on individuals, and there's definitely not a 1:1 relationship between gamers and their games
...and also is set-based
Many users visit the site to watch their favorite games being played, regardless of player
"Streaming on Twitch: Fostering Participatory Communities of Play within Live Mixed Media"
In 2014, TAMU Interface Ecology Lab researchers W.A. Hamilton, O. Garretson, and A. Kerne
Asserted that Twitch affords both spectatorship and participation
Discovered that Twitch serves as a third place (as would a library or coffee shop) where gamers and netizens can relax and commune.
Found a lowered potential for one-on-one interaction for streams with 1,000+ viewers.
Concluded that social tools such as Twitch "
foster third places that broadly impact a gamut of digitally mediated real time experiences of entertainment and education [...and that...] streaming media can help make MOOC education experiences more organic and participatory, and less factory like
" (Hamilton et al.)
Link: http://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557048
"Watch me Playing, I am a Professional: a First Study on Video Game Live Streaming"
2012: Prepared for the 21st International World Wide Web Conference by M. Kaytoue, A. Silva, L. Cerf, W. Meira Jr. at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil) and C. Raïssi at NRIA Nancy Grand Est (France)
Discovered that the popularity of a Twitch stream can be algorithmically predicted
Found that overall popular streams are very likely to be popular from the get-go (corollary of the Matthew Effect)
Also noted that notions of popularity on Twitch differ when users are asked about streams and streamers: the analyses didn't always match with the results of user polls
Relation to education:
The ability to predict the popularity of activated or planned streams means that instructional designers and teachers can create benchmarks that concern as well-envisioned, marketed, and implemented stream, thus increasing the likelihood of achieving learning goals.
Link: http://doi.org/10.1145/2187980.2188259
"Combining Live Video and Audio Broadcasting, Synchronous Chat, and Asynchronous Open Forum Discussions in Distance Education"
Teng and Taveras (2004), faculty at SUNY Stony Book, share the outcomes of a masters program that relies on synchronous audiovisual streaming.
They share that instructors must be vigilant in identifying potential and actual ghost (that is, "lurker") students who log on to the meeting platform but do not actively participate
They share that stream-based learning can occur, effectively, at a low bandwidth, but that higher bandwidths naturally allow for greater learning and understanding
Their conclusion, "Combining live video and audio broadcasting, synchronous chat and asynchronous open forum discussions in distance education expands the possibility of reaching even more 'non-traditional' students, such as those that are handicapped or economically disadvantaged" laid a cogent and concise academic framework for online meeting-based learning.
"Using Internet relay chat to provide on-line tutorials in a distance-learning chemistry course"
Kimbrough et. al (1998) first share that IRC surprised them in that it allowed students to meet one another prior to the course, such they many did not need to make introductions.
IRC use was correlated with improved course performance, but discerning the motivations for both was not possible. They note that students who already want to do well will, of course, seek out avenues by which to do so.
Students did not find find IRC-based tutorials more competitive than in-class problem-solving sessions.
They note that they had to develop a shorthand for the chemical symbols being used in the class, as IRC does not support images.
Also found that female-identified students participated more in the IRC-based tutorials than did their male counterparts.

Hamilton, W. A., Garretson, O., & Kerne, A. (2014). Streaming on twitch: fostering participatory communities of play within live mixed media (pp. 1315–1324). ACM Press. doi:10.1145/2556288.2557048

Kaytoue, M., Silva, A., Cerf, L., Meira, W., & Raïssi, C. (2012). Watch me playing, i am a professional: a first study on video game live streaming (p. 1181). ACM Press. doi:10.1145/2187980.2188259

Kimbrough, D. R., Hochgurtel, B. D., & Smith, S. S. (1998). Using Internet relay chat to provide on-line tutorials in a distance-learning chemistry course.
Journal of College Science Teaching
, 28(2), 132–136.

Mejeur, C. (2015, February 24). Twitter.

Tian-Lih Teng, & Taveras, M. (2004). Combining Live Video and Audio Broadcasting, Synchronous Chat, and Asynchronous Open Forum Discussions in Distance Education.
Journal of Educational Technology Systems
, 33(2), 121–129.

Top 15 Most Popular Video Websites | March 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/video-websites

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