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Taiwan professor teaching economics class on Twitch suddenly attracts 16K viewers

Current strain on online teaching system amid COVID spike drives professor to unorthodox alternative

(Twitch, Powebe Yang channel screenshot)

(Twitch, Powebe Yang channel screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A university professor in central Taiwan was met with over 16,000 uninvited attendees at his teaching session originally designed for 54 students.

Yang Yi-nung (楊奕農), an associate professor in the Department of International Business at Chung Yuan Christian University, arranged a real-time online session of undergraduate economics on the livestreaming platform Twitch for the afternoon of May 19. When it started at 1 p.m., 54 out of his 66 students had shown up to the virtual class.

However, soon the session received a sudden spike in visitors, with over 16,000 arriving.

In the video, Yang appeared astonished by the spectacular increase in attendees. Actual students of the class began to complain the chat was being jammed with messages from visitors, making it difficult for the real pupils to unearth questions raised by their peers.

It is rare to see a university professor giving a class over the popular American livestreaming platform, which focuses on videogame livestreaming. Yang is said to have chosen Twitch to avoid the technical glitches many teachers have been experiencing through the standard online learning system.

Schools in Taiwan are now closed to protect students amid a domestic spike in COVID-19, but the cloud has struggled to handle peak traffic as students nationwide logged in on their first day of online classes. Some teachers are said to be turning to other livestreaming services, such as 17 Live. Since last year, the popular video conferencing app Zoom, used widely around the world, has been banned by the Cabinet from use in Taiwan schools out of security concerns related to China.

The economics course offered by Yang is believed to be far outside the mainstream of Twitch content, which is said to explain the sudden spike of curious visitors, media reported. The class was marked the "most-watched" stream on Twitch Taiwan.