Saturday, December 28, 2013

Going Viral: Teaching Students to Share and Communicate Online

With Chromebooks and smart phones available to every student in the class, this semester I've made a concerted effort to teach students to share their work safe and professional manners. The act of sharing work with the world not only encourages students to more carefully craft their works and polish their presentations, but it also is a skill that they will need as professionals in their adult lives. In my Media class specifically, we had many conversations about what future careers will look like and what skills they will need to hone as adults in a high-tech world.

During the Internet Unit in my senior-level Media class, students study a variety of social networking and video platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube as well as the impact of the Internet as a whole.  After watching the TED Talks How YouTube is Driving Innovation and Why Videos Go Viral, I wanted students to have the real-world experience of trying to spread an original idea to a large audience.

To guide our learning, I posed these essential questions to my students: What power do social networking platforms have on our lives? How do viral videos influence our society and become cultural moments?

First students watched several viral videos and discussed why these videos captivated so much of our society's attention.  Then students were given the assignment and were asked to create a short video in small groups, share their videos via social media platforms to friends and tastemakers (ie: Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, and other media moguls), and then reflect on the process.  Here are a few student examples:


Students were very excited about sharing their projects and even helped promote each other's videos.  While no one went viral, they did learn a great deal about how to share a message with the "real-world".  Their reflections and presentations regarding this experience facilitated a great conversation about how our society interacts, what types of information captivates our attention, and how social media drives the world in which we live.  With instant information available all the time at the press of a button and with 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, students need to understand how to access information and how to creatively express themselves in order to make themselves stand out in a very crowded cyberspace.

During this project, students had to think creatively, create a multimedia presentation, and use social media platforms to essential market and promote themselves.  Students had to collaborate with a small group of people and coordinate their efforts to spread their digital stories.   They certainly utilized technology and were asked to metacognitively reflect upon what they accomplished and learned from the experience.   Having completed this assignment, I am glad that students had this opportunity to reflect.

To help make them more successful next year, I will encourage them to take more time with spreading their message and to reach out to more Internet platforms.  Next year, perhaps I'll encourage students to post their projects to BuzzFeed's open posting forum and other websites like it.  With more blogs and Internet sites gaining traction, maybe next year (or the year after that), one of my students projects really will go viral.


 
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