Physics Student Josh Martin Teaches Math to Millions on TikTok
Junior Josh Martin has created a popular YouTube channel where he provides math and physics lessons for students ranging from middle school to college-age. (Photos by Tanner Spohn, used by permission)
ALBANY, N.Y. (May 5, 2020) – Online learning may be the new normal for now and the foreseeable future. But for UAlbany junior Josh Martin, online learning is a personal passion.
Martin, a physics major from Cobleskill, has been providing his own brand of online tutoring on YouTube since his freshman year. His videos have mostly consisted of mathematics topics, a core component of the physics curriculum. His channel has more than 60 thousand subscribers, a clear indication that his approach has proven beneficial for a large group of learners.
UAlbany Junior physics major Josh Martin
But it was his recent foray into TikTok, a short-form mobile video service, that helped boost his presence to where he is today.
“After this initial four to five videos where I was just messing around with the idea of creating a math help niche on TikTok, I decided to make a promotion video for my YouTube where I had plenty more resources for students that were trying to study for finals,” said Martin, whose videos tack subjects aimed at students from middle school through early college.
“I made a quick 15-second TikTok that used a trendy sound and just featured me turning around in a chair with text on the screen labeling the topics I could help with,” continued Martin. “With my fingers crossed, I went outside to plow my driveway because there was a huge snowstorm that night. After roughly 20 minutes, I came back inside, kicked off my boots, checked my phone, and the video had already gained over 70,000 views.”
In one night Martin had jumped from 1,000 subscribers on YouTube to 40,000 for his channel named 'ludus' after an virtual environment featured in the book "Ready Player One." On TikTok, he went from 1,000 followers to 100,000. It was at that point he knew even the short-form (59 seconds or less) environment of TikTok could have a positive impact for the expanding online learning community. In total, his videos have accumulated more than 30 million views.
Martin credits one of his teachers in high school, Gregory Kichton, with setting him on the path to online tutoring. Kichton, a physics/technology teacher at Cobleskill-Richmondville H.S., employed a ‘flipped classroom’ model, where students would do problems in class and then watch a video of a classroom lecture at home.
Kichton also helped Martin see how physics impacts our everyday lives. “He could help you understand the physics of everything, from gravity to fixing cars,” said Martin.
When he came to UAlbany, the choice of major was an easy one for Martin. He credits working with Assistant Professors Ceclia Levy and Matthew Szydagis for helping ease the college transition for him, and for continuing to make physics relatable.
What’s next for Martin remains to be seen. He’s interested in graduate school, but perhaps focusing on the subject of online learning or a degree in business. Either way he is likely to employ the same approach that has led to his current social media success: exploring the best ways to make learning relatable to a wide range of people.
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