Cooking with TikTok

This blog entry is about a teaching experiment conducted as part of a university course for home economics teachers in the University of Helsinki in collaboration with a local elementary school. The central theme of the course was to plan an interactional home economics lesson for elementary school students, and to execute it remotely, with teacher trainees operating from outside of the classroom. Our group of three teacher trainees ended up teaching students how to cook with the help of cooking videos found on social media, while their own teachers supervised. 

The starting point of our experiment was the notion outlined in the Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education that students are active agents, who set goals and solve problems independently and together with other students (POPS, 2014, s. 17). Initially, when we found out we were supposed to teach ninth-graders how to make fresh homemade pasta — and to teach it remotely — we weren’t sure how we would do it. Luckily one member in our group had prior experience of watching and utilizing cooking videos found on social media, and that became the central idea of our remote teaching experiment. 

According to the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2014, s. 39), methods of teaching should not only be influenced by the objectives of teaching but also by the needs and interests of the students themselves. Therefore, social media was an obvious resource to be utilized in an experiment based on remote learning, information management, and communication, since ninth-graders are most likely active on social media. We wanted to show students how easy it is to cook using instructional cooking videos in order to encourage them to try cooking the dishes they will inevitably see in their own social media feeds. Eventually we chose to make such instructional cooking videos ourselves, using a popular social media platform we weren’t familiar with at all — TikTok.

Making the videos 

In many home kitchens smart phones, tablets, and social media platforms are already challenging traditional cookbooks. Most of the instructional cooking videos are, however, directed at an audience who already have the resources, experience, and confidence to try them. Not only was the experience of cooking with such videos new to most of the students, making such videos was also new to us. So, we wanted to make them very simple and easy to follow. The videos were shot in a training kitchen provided by the University of Helsinki, using a regular smart phone and user interface of TikTok. The videos were also edited and published on TikTok, and after that transferred to YouTube and Google Classroom in case of any technical difficulties that might arise later. We wanted to be sure the videos would be accessible on multiple platforms at all times. 

Because the videos were very simple and straightforward, we did not write a script for them. Before shooting each “scene”, we quickly negotiated who would do what during the scene. The user interface of TikTok made it very easy to cut from one scene to another, which is in fact the main attribute of the platform in question. This made shooting very easy, because we had time to think about the next scene between every shot. 

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Mixing the pesto with the pasta. Photograph by: Tiina Munck

While shooting the footage was not that challenging, it was time consuming. Originally we reserved three hours for the production, but ended up using almost six. This was mostly because we did not have much prior experience of using TikTok, aside from shooting a few practice videos at home. Having little knowledge of the editing features and limitations of the user interface ended up costing us time. We were not entirely sure how much we would be able to edit the videos afterwards, so we decided to finish the editing of all videos individually before saving them. This turned out to be a good decision, since TikTok does indeed limit how much you can edit already saved videos. 

We ended up with six videos, all about one minute long. They were mostly filmed over a wooden countertop, with only the hands of the cook and food itself visible on screen. All stages of the cooking were subtitled with the quantities and the names of the ingredients. 

Screenshot from a video. From: opetatoisin — TikTok

Planning and executing the experiment 

The whole teaching experiment took about four weeks to complete, with two different teachers and their three classes of ninth-graders. All the meetings with the teachers and their students before, during, and after the experiment were conducted remotely. In the first week we focused on researching and learning the production of cooking videos and then introduced our ideas to the teachers, while discussing the practical arrangements of the experiment. In the second week we introduced ourselves to the students and let them know about what we were going to do with them in the following week. We asked them what kind of sauce they wanted to eat with their pasta. Including students in the planning is pedagogically motivating, and also committing (Jyrhämä et al., 2016, s. 111). The videos were shot during this week and we also wrote some written instructions for the students on where to find the cooking videos and what ingredients to buy for the lesson. In this school students did the grocery shopping for home economics classes. 

During the third week we conducted the first two lessons with two different student groups. The students’ own teachers had initially estimated that making fresh homemade pasta would be very challenging timewise, so we crafted a very detailed lesson plan for the first attempt. The teacher in the classroom was instructed to help students find different utensils and tools for practical purposes and to supervise the students for obvious safety reasons. All questions regarding the actual contents of the lesson were to be directed at us, the teacher trainees, who were monitoring the class through a webcam connection on a laptop located in the classroom. During the first two lessons we did not encounter any problems regarding time and scheduling. Based on our own observations and the feedback we got from the students and their teacher, some small changes were made before the second and the third lesson. 

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Illustration of remote teaching environment

In the fourth and final week, we worked with a new teacher and a new student group. In this third and last lesson, we had updated our lesson with regards to gathering feedback. This time we instructed the teacher to carry the laptop around the classroom while the students were eating their food, so we could ask them directly what they thought about the lesson. We also encouraged the students to comment on the TikTok videos using the comment section of TikTok. Both the teacher and the students gave us positive feedback about the experiment. They thought cooking with our videos was practical and that rewinding the videos was an easy way to go back to the critical parts of preparing the meal without having to ask for help. 

Jalkanen, Iiro 

Munck, Tiina 

Pihkala, Ulla 


Jyrhämä, R., Hellström, M., Uusikylä, K. & Kansanen, P. (2016) Opettajan didaktiikka. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus 

POPS (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2014. Helsinki: Opetushallitus. 

Practical skills and aesthetics in Home Economics education

Aino Antas, Susanna Lukkari, Vilja Lukkarinen & Noora Nikitin

The purpose of our development work was to design an intervention using distance learning methods related to handicrafts and aesthetics during the pandemic. The aim of the teaching experiment was to organize distance learning in real time using communication technology tools and applications. The subject of the lessons was to recap of what yeast dough is, to make cinnamon rolls and set up a creative food picture. The teaching was organized through co-teaching. In addition, the aim of the course was to implement gender-conscious teaching.  

Premises of the teaching experiment

According to the Finnish National Core Curriculum for basic education (2014), one of the aims of Home Economics is to promote handicrafts and creativity (POPS, 2014, 437). The promotion of handicrafts and creativity is relevant to aesthetics and its training in terms of teaching experimentation. T2 guides students to practice their handicrafts needed to manage the household and encourages creativity and attention to aesthetics. (POPS, 2014, 438–439.) More information about aesthetics can be found here

The pedagogical intervention (or, experiment) was based on a behaviorist approach to learning with elements from the socio-constructivist approach. In schools, the teaching of arts and skills often focuses on the behaviorist concept, as students imitate the models given by the teacher (Räsänen, 2009, 20). Especially distance learning can highlight the characteristics of behaviorism, as the teacher plays a major role in this. On the other hand, according to Rantanen and Palojoki (2015, 89), it is possible to create a framework for learning according to the socio-constructivist approach to online teaching.

In particular, co-operation and interactivity have been seen as good motivational aspects in teaching. 

The course of the teaching experiment, technological implementation and learning materials 

We chose a school in Northern Finland for the teaching experiment. The teaching was carried out by video connections via Teams between the University of Helsinki and a school in Northern Finland. Two of us were filming the first lesson with a mobile phone for a school in Northern Finland and two of us were teaching.

In the next lesson later that week, we changed roles. We held the lessons through Teams.  The lesson was live-streamed on the school board while we were in Helsinki at the university´s classroom. One week before the lessons, we had asked each pupil group to send us a video greeting in which they shared their favorite delicacies and their strength as a group, among other things. We made our own video, where we told about ourselves, for example who we are, why we are teaching the subject and what our favorite delicacies are. We presented the video right at the beginning of the lesson, because, in addition to introducing ourselves, we talked about the goals of the lesson and the technological implementation. 

At the beginning of the lesson, we prepared yeast dough together with the pupils. During the lesson, one of our group members used a phone to film how we created our own bun dough. The pupils made bun dough at school at the same time as we did, or slightly behind. We tried to look at their work via video and asked about their working steps so that we could make the dough at the same time. 

Aino Antas: Filming instances of making buns for pupils

When the dough was rising, we advised the pupils to do the dishes and we taught about the design of cinnamon rolls with the help of our Canva presentation. We showed our Canva presentation by sharing our laptop’s screen in Teams. In addition to Canva, we showed an illustrative video in which of one of our group member’s brother showed the design of the cinnamon rolls.

All of our group members are females, so we wondered how we could pass the message to the pupils that creating an aesthetic food picture or handicrafts are not gender dependent. The purpose of the video was to break stereotypes and follow a gender-neutral mindset. In this way, the goal of gender-conscious teaching was implemented during the lesson. In addition, during the rise of the dough, we also taught the perspectives related to taking a food picture with the help of a Canva presentation. When taking a food picture, we pointed out the need to select a fitting background, lighting, layout and angle. In addition, we suggested that pupils use, for example, a plate or basket, a napkin and something else in the Home Economics class. 

Aino Antas: Instructions for the food picture

After rising the dough, it was time to shape the buns and put them in the oven. While the buns were baking, we advised pupils to finish their dishes, set the table and prepare the filming location. When we took the buns out of the oven, we reminded pupils to take a great food picture before the moment of delicacy.

We asked if we could use the food pictures that they took in our report anonymously. The pupils gave us permission to use their pictures, when they sent the food picture directly to one of our team member’s email.  During the delicacy, we asked the pupils to answer a quick feedback questionnaire about the course of the lesson. This gave us immediate feedback on the process. We finished the lesson while pupils sat peacefully at their tables, because we wanted to give them a peaceful ending of the lesson. We finished the lesson about five minutes before the estimated time. 

Assessment of the teaching situation and feedback 

The lesson enabled us to give pupils immediate feedback about their work. We experienced this as an important factor in encouraging pupils to enjoy the learning, which strengthens the conditions for creative thinking. At a certain level, providing feedback is about the person’s actions and the different parts related to the work, which therefore affects the recipient’s self-esteem (Syrjäläinen, Jyrhämä & Haverinen, 2008).  As a result, we experienced a positive and encouraging touch that motivates students.  

The interaction on the pupils’ behalf was limited due to technical reasons, so we wanted to encourage pupils to give feedback anonymously. We used Google Forms to create a feedback form that we could share with the Teams platform. 

Reflection on the lesson 

The teaching experiment provided us many insights and opportunities for learning new things. The most significant thing we learned as a group was distance learning skills and how we managed to teach the pupils new skills in real time without being physically present. The success of co-operation and interaction remotely was a positive experience, as we were not sure in advance how we would make it work. In addition, the gender-conscious bun design video had greater meaning than we had expected. It also motivated pupils, since the person shown in the video was closer to their age group than us. 

Although our teaching experiment included great insights and successes, unpredictable challenges also emerged which we were not prepared for. The biggest challenges for the lessons were the functionality of remote connections and the rise of the bun dough. That’s why we modified the lesson plan for Friday’s lesson. We made starter dough and set more time for potential technological challenges.  

Tolerating uncertainty and moving out of our comfort zone played a big role in our teaching experiment. This point highlighted the power of co-teaching when we were able to seek support from members of our group when facing problems. Co-teaching allows equal co-operation between teachers, in which they are responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating learning together. The co-teaching often includes more versatile work and learning content than if the teacher arranges the class alone.  


Opetushallitus (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2014. Helsinki. Saatavissa:

Rantanen, M. & Palojoki, P. (2015). Kotitalous verkko-opetuksena. Teoksessa: Janhonen-Abruquah, H. & Palojoki, P. (toim.) Luova ja vastuullinen kotitalousopetus. Helsingin yliopisto. Käyttäytymistieteellinen tiedekunta. 

Räsänen, M. (2009). Taide, taito, tieto – ei kahta ilman kolmatta. Teoksessa Opetushallituksen taide- ja taitokasvatuksen asiantuntijatyöryhmä (toim.) Taide ja taito – kiinni elämässä! (ss. 28–39). Helsinki: Edita Prima Oy. 

Kinnunen, A (2000). Estetiikka. Helsinki: WSOY.