Study videos, Telegram tips and webinars: Singapore's online studying community

Ms Kellianne Ng started her channel Kelli’s Diary in February focusing on tips, mental affirmations and check-ins. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI
StudyTuber Rui says recording herself helps her to be disciplined, while ensuring that she is unable to use her phone. PHOTO: SPUDSTUDY ON YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - Her mobile phone balanced on an upturned Starbucks cup, Rui, 18, records a one-hour time-lapse video of herself revising, which she plans to upload to her YouTube channel.

The junior college (JC) student, who is in Year 2 and declines to give her last name, started posting videos occasionally on her channel in 2018. But she did so more regularly - once every fortnight - from the end of 2019.

Her channel, spudstudy, features pre-recorded clips of her writing notes in school or at home, interspersed with videos of day-to-day student activities such as chatting with friends or snacking. She is careful to keep her face out of the frame.

From 10,000 subscribers in 2019, Rui now has about 120,000 subscribers. Of these, 20 per cent are Singaporean while the rest are from Asian countries including India and Malaysia.

She says recording herself studying helps her to be disciplined, while ensuring that she is unable to use her phone. She also feels motivated to study when she sees that her followers are working while watching her videos.

"I found that the videos made me more productive," she says.

Rui is what is known as a StudyTuber, or a social influencer who creates studying-related content on YouTube.

In Singapore, there are at least five other StudyTubers. They include Alyssa Ng (Yueminie on YouTube), 17, a JC 1 student who has accumulated more than 32,000 subscribers since starting her channel in April last year; and a first-year university student known as Peachdudu, who has more than 25,000 subscribers.

Alyssa sometimes posts study-with-me videos on her channel, which are filmed in real time complete with background music.

It is her take on group studying in the pandemic. "I think people do use my videos to study because some people will comment on the subjects they're studying," she says.

While a local online study community already existed, it has remained active and evolved in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. These days, study influencers can be found on a variety of social media platforms and are reaching out to followers in new ways, such as by organising webinars.

On messaging platform Telegram, influencers share text-form advice, links to study resources and encouragement with fellow students.

Polytechnic student Kerris Tan, 17, who is in her first year, did not notice other local study channels on Telegram when she started one in April 2021. Since then, the number of such channels has risen to more than 20.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, I held a few Zoom study sessions where students studying could tune in together, to help everybody feel less alone especially when stuck at home," she says.

Kerris, who now has more than 1,500 subscribers, notes that the virtual study sessions gained her many subscribers, pointing to the sense of community fostered when students "help one another through difficult times, like when we're stressed or burnt out".

Alyssa sometimes posts study-with-me videos on her channel, which are filmed in real time complete with background music. PHOTO: YUEMINIE/YOUTUBE

Another study influencer on Telegram is Ms Kellianne Ng, 19, who calls her channel Kelli's Diary her "baby". She sends daily messages to her 300 subscribers, ranging from tips to affirmations to check-ins.

After getting a perfect score of 45 in her International Baccalaureate examination last year, she felt more confident in sharing her tips, so she began her channel in February 2022.

"I wanted to show and inspire other students that anything is possible as long as you have the discipline and determination to work towards your end goal," she says.

Last month, she organised a webinar which was attended by more than 30 students, after realising that many followers wanted an unbiased take on university courses and life. She invited two speakers to share their experiences studying locally and overseas.

Students who follow these study influencers say the content is relatable.

They enjoy watching students navigate school life in Singapore and are reminded that schooling is more than about attaining perfect grades.

One of Ms Ng's subscribers, Verlene Chew, 17, a fifth-year student at the School of the Arts, Singapore, has found the channel useful.

She says: "One piece of advice from Kelli that stood out the most for me was that making memories in school is more important than mugging because that's what you'll remember after schooling."

Both Rui and Ms Ng agree that student life in Singapore can be stressful, so finding people who relate to and support them is vital.

Ms Ng says: "I think that knowing you are not alone, and that you are not the only one struggling, makes the treacherous journey less painful."

Study tips from study influencers

From 10,000 subscribers in 2019, StudyTuber Rui now has about 120,000 subscribers. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM @SPUDSTUDY/YOUTUBE

1. Plan in advance to ensure that you are on top of your tasks. Making to-do lists and scheduling can be helpful.

2. Find a study method that works for you. This takes a lot of experimentation, but once you find one that works, stick to it.

3. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Your teachers are there for a reason, so discuss and clarify your doubts with them.

4. Take down questions you made mistakes with and retest yourself on them to refresh your memory.

5. Take breaks. Studying non-stop will be overwhelming and counter-intuitive as you will not be mentally capable of processing the information.

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