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Steve Douglass – New Media Instructor and Media Lead Teacher at Lake Forest High School, an Apple Distinguished Educator, founder of showNtell storytelling, and a Chicago and St Louis Summer Stories leader.

Engagement Insights for the YouTube Generation with Steve Douglass

Who better than an educator of millennials and a father of two teenagers to discuss storytelling and engagement for the YouTube generations? Steve Douglass is a New Media Instructor and Media Lead Teacher at Lake Forest High School, an Apple Distinguished Educator, the founder of showNtell storytelling, and a Chicago and St Louis Summer Stories leader.

Steve spoke during a virtual session at Final Cut Pro’s recent FCPX Global Virtual Summit, which was held from November 16-22, 2020. He featured seven days of cutting-edge sessions presented by top industry professionals.

How we got here 

Google Logo

On October 9, 2006, YouTube was bought by Google, and there was a clear opportunity to share your story through distribution. “It started with being able to capture video with an iPhone, and then when Final Cut Pro hit the scene in 2011, it was a game-changer,” said Steve. At that time, Steve started presenting to educators in Chicago as he found FCP provided access to folks that it hadn’t in the past, including his students who were able to pick up editing quite quickly. Steve was teaching dynamic storytelling and wanted things to become easier, and Final Cut Pro did just that.

“In five years, a generation went from consuming to creating,” said Steve.

The demographic

YouTube Icon

Students watch YouTube every day, and in 2018, 95% of teens had access to a smartphone. According to Steve, teenagers follow and subscribe quickly and tend to be impulsive in the ways they engage. They use Google to get answers and watch videos on YouTube to figure things out. As an educator, he noted that extroverts and introverts learn differently; but there is a constant loop of creation and consumption across the board, especially in a COVID era. When students build their YouTube channel and brand, there is what Steve refers to as a “shotgun effect,” saying that the teens he works with believe that they can do everything themselves.

“They believe they are good without you and that they can learn on their own. They struggle to build real relationships since everything is transactional,” said Steve.

Working together

Steve provided the following tips on how to best engage with the YouTube generation:

  • Level with our fears
  • See them for who they really are
  • Understand how we can win together
  • Take what we learn and practice what we preach

“The best story always wins,” said Steve. Today’s teens do understand the importance of quality and efficiency. It is important to give students guidance and help them understand the direction of the story, as there should always be a structure and a voice that really hooks people in.


As an educator, Steve has produced over 15,000 videos with his students. While working with St. Louis and Chicago Summer Stories, an Apple initiative that allows students to produce with an iPhone and Final Cut Pro, he was able to help guide students through the production process. “The students were able to leverage their experience through storytelling, adding meaning and value, and learning by doing,” said Steve. During COVID-19, Steve and helped students produce 10-15 pieces each, along with a 2-minute personal narrative. They learned how to bring all of the pieces together and add meaning to their content. He also stressed the importance of giving your students creative freedom, which will really help them go far.  As part of their final exam, OWC gave the students their first paid freelance job, paying them each to document their experiences with the OWC Envoy Pro Mini.

“Give students the confidence to feel comfortable engaging with each other and sharing their own work. Let them know that you value their voice and validate that,” said Steve. 

Watch the full summit video below…

Kim Wacker
the authorKim Wacker
Client Management & Senior Writer
Kim is a seasoned content marketing professional with 14 years of corporate communications experience. Her sweet spot is with creative writing both short and long-form, and she has a proven track record working with IBM, Jackson Healthcare, and Walt Disney World, among many others. Kim is also a singer and actor and has been performing on stage and screen since she was a child. She has a great passion for TV and film production and went to school for broadcast journalism. Kim is the CEO & Founder of Wacker Social Enterprises and the Director of Operations & Senior Writer for Blade Ronner Media. You can also find her on IMDb. LinkedIn: BladeRonner Media: Wacker Social: Portfolio:
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