By: Hailey Temple

Mastering the craft of a viral video is a difficult feat. There is no handbook or secret to uncover what makes an Internet sensation, but when a video goes viral it can become a part of our culture in incredible ways.

In the School of Information Studies (iSchool) Social Media and the Enterprise Course, often referred by its Twitter hashtag, #rotoloclass, assistant professor of practice Anthony Rotolo challenges students to grab their cameras and make a video of their own. From dancing squirrels to Carly Rae Jepsen, these videos cover a range of genres and generate laughter, crying and astonishment. The goal is to get them to go viral.

To rise to the challenge and to make the grade, Hannah Redfield, a junior at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, captured fellow Syracuse student Hannah Melton in a daze following dental surgery. As Melton explained the woes of her life as “Hannah Montana,” Redfield pressed record and captured the moments that have caught the attention of over 130,000 viewers, Reddit, the Elvis Duran Show, and The Ellen Show. “Hannah Montana Wisdom Teeth” has become a viral sensation both on and off the Internet.

“I was in complete shock. I went to bed Thursday night hoping to get to 10,000 views and woke up the next morning to over 36,000 views” said Redfield, a sophomore studying public relations and information management and technology.

After submitting her video as her assignment for the class, Redfield shared her project with Tosh.0, Bro Bible, and a handful of other media outlets across the Internet. Within a few days, “Hannah Montana Wisdom Teeth” was buzzing across social media outlets. Soon, The Ellen Show contacted Redfield and flew her and Melton to Los Angeles to appear on the show.

“I never thought the video would get this big, but at the same time I’m not surprised because it is so funny,” says Redfield.

Rotolo praises Redfield’s skill and understanding of the viral video concept, which he discussed as part of the course curriculum. “Hannah did a great job piecing together some components we discussed in class. She added some pop culture references and a somewhat embarrassing situation and she had the recipe for video with high potential for virality. After that, it was all up to the Internet.”

For Melton, the experience being in front of the camera was a positive experience that she was happy to share. “I thought it was funny and I am not embarrassed too easily, so I wanted Hannah to use the footage for her assignment. It’s more fun than anything and I love sharing it with people and enjoy their reactions to the video.

Whether it’s Hannah Montana anecdotes, adorable babies, or Korean dancers, viral videos play a major role in today’s digital culture. When these videos catch fever across social media platforms, they jump from page to page to be enjoyed by millions and become a part of everyday discussion. In Rotolo’s class, the viral video assignment is a way for students to study and determine what ways they can captivate the eyes of Internet viewers by understanding what’s popular at the time.

“Social media, for better or worse, has left its mark on us culturally. We are all aware of memes, hashtags and viral videos. They are our entertainment and even our news,” says Rotolo. “It's fascinating to dissect these cultural moments to see what causes the social phenomenon. This assignment is an exploration in Internet Anthropology.”

Melton will make an appearance on The Ellen Show today at 4:00.