What is a meme and how can I use it?
Memes are social ideas or a cultural symbol that is transmitted and shared via the internet in the form of a captioned photo, verbal expressions and videos. Memes have generally been used for humour however they are gaining traction as an avenue to share more serious and philosophical content. Cecil Adams from the StraightDope.com suggests that a meme “is either really deep or really, really obvious”.
Social Presence is an element of the Community of Inquiry Framework developed by Garrison, D.R., et al (2009), and facilitates the opportunity for students to connect and form relationships with their learning community, encourage collaboration and open communication. The two other core elements are Teaching and Cognitive presence which contribute to the framework that sustains a “collaborative constructivist learning environment required to create a purposeful learning community”.
Memes can be used to facilitate developing social presence in the online learning community by providing the student cohort and lecturers with a means to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other. The following are ideas on how to use memes:
- caption photo memes can be used to introduce the unit and academic staff
- ask students to generate their own meme to introduce themselves to their cohort
- introduce a bit of humour to the unit
Welcome meme/blog – provide an overview of the unit and assessments
Farmer, B., et al (2007), suggests using blog style memes as a way for the cohort to get to know each other by sharing their favourite movies, games etc. They found that using memes in this manner “proved very useful in motivating blog activity and getting less experienced students comfortable with the idea and practice of blogging” and students began to generate their versions of blog memes.
Discussion and Debate
Memes can be introduced to iLearn to facilitate discussion and debate.
Cameron Smith from the Department of Modern History and Political International Relations introduction of using current and relevant philosophical memes to teach a particularly dry topic has been a successful activity to engage students and their higher order thinking skills.
Examples of memes
Creating and using Meme images in the classroom is a great example of how you can generate a meme for teaching.
Using Social media in university teaching is another example of how a meme can be used.
Written by Beth Saunders
Farmer, B., Yue, A. & Brooks, C. (2007). Using blogging for higher order learning in large-cohort university teaching: A case study. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007.
Garrison, D.R., et al., Exploring casual relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence: Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework, Internet and Higher Education (2009). Doi: 10/1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.00