It would be tempting to see memes as just cute cat and celebrity pictures with a caption. But memes, like s much of the discussion around using ICT in learning can be so much more powerful if we dig deeply and use them rigorously.
In fact the term meme was invented in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (way before social media became so rampant) to explain how ideas and cultural phenomena spread in the same way as evolution, similar to the way viruses and the biological evolution of genes. Examples of this cultural evolution would be songs, fashion and jargon.
Memes are a digital version of this evolution – a phenomenon that spread by imitation and replication as people share them via social media and personal networks. The key word is evolution. This is a classic example as Keep Calm evolved and was shared.
Memes can provide biting political or social commentary – remember BronnieGate, when the then Federal Parliamentary Speaker misused a helicopter.
Students of all ages can create their own memes by combining image and text to build on memes that have gone before – or begin something entirely new. The most important thing is that they understand they are building some form of common understanding. Imagine what could students create with these images of characters and personas that they are familiar with as a starting point!
What would characters like these say about global warming, political or historic events or even characters in a text?
There is little doubt that memes are fun and engaging but we need to help students go beyond the superficial to deal with something of significance.
Memes can help students:
There are many ways students can create their own memes.My favourite is simply to use the free app Mematic. It is quick and easy and most importantly safe.
Used wisely and with rigour, memes can be powerful and engaging ways for students from all year levels to synthesise their thoughts about significant ideas, events and experiences and real learning will flow.