YouTube streams more content than you could watch in a lifetime. Add in the other video-on-demand services and it is enough to make you giddy. So what is it about these services that students are particularly interested in?
From on-the-edge TV series to insightful documentaries, to comedy sketches, to clips of cute little animals making you forget the harshness of the world, in 2021, the fashion is for people filming themselves studying. With a name that may provoke laughter, the "gongbang" phenomenon is gaining momentum all over the world.
The phenomenon originated in South Korea hence the name, which has no relation with Latin. It is a neologism formed by the terms "gongbu" and "bang song" meaning "study show". Initially, these videos were intended for the parents of students to show that their offspring were spending a good amount of time studying. It should be understood that in Korean culture, learning has a special place. There is fierce competition to get into an ideal course of study. However, these broadcasts have spread beyond the borders of this Asian country. There are now clips of this kind in all languages, including English. What caused this craze for videos that, unlike others, do not engage any interaction? Covid-19 had a lot to do with it.
In effect, a critical mass of students, 1.3 billion of them, were forced to study on their own. Classes were more often held at a distance and school libraries were closed or restricted. As a result, this type of video provided an opportunity to break some of the isolation of students. So, with thousands of people watching a video like this, feel like they are in a more traditional study environment. While some criticize this voyeuristic approach, they didn't interview those who were enjoying it. Many students testify, on the contrary, to the benefit of these videos which allows them to persevere in their year of study, unlike others.
Grégoire Dossier, one of the most important French "gonbangeur", went further to create a "virtual university" on the communication application Discord. For him, the "gongbang" phenomenon is similar to the atmosphere of university libraries. He stated in an interview with L'Obs, that watching his fellow students study within the walls of the "B.U." motivated him to do the same.
The Real Way to Review?
That last statement is interesting. What if the Korean phenomenon represents what students need to study? We have always been under the impression that monastic silence is required to revise. Yet, a 2017 Harvard Business Review study had shown that absolute silence doesn't help one stay focused. Indeed, in this context, every noise or discordant note becomes a distraction. Still, a little background noise helps.
There are a plethora of YouTube videos of "lofi," soft background music for studying, working, and the like. In the 18th century, the philosopher Jean-Pierre de Crousaz had testified to the importance of the group is studying. Seeing others focus on their grades encourages them to emulate them. This is a healthy "pressure" from the community that can be replicated, in part, with gongbang.
Even more so since many employ the Pomodoro technique, meaning they work for 25 minutes (or 50), take a 5-minute break (10), and then start over. This allows those who observe them know the period for the breaks. In this way, they learn an efficient way of working that will be useful throughout their lives.
Of course, those who have finished their studies will have little interest in these unedited vignettes and only use natural sound. For students, on the other hand, it can become a motivating force and an environment where it proves easier to keep one's nose in books.