In November I had a creative idea to activate my students. I am a solid believer that both formative assessments and reflective questions are essential components of any learning process. I am always seeking to try something different to help my students understand what they know or have no idea, so I came up with the idea of having students create memes to reflect on our Agriculture and Food Unit.

I was quite thrilled by my first attempt and the creative reflection that would happen. I hoped to see some amazing creative types of my students making cable connections to the unit objectives. I was excited to see what they had taken away from the machine and how they might express their learning takeaways.

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Sadly, this is not what I acquired. Despite my frequent use of the term create, the majority of my students distributed and found a meme that someone else got already created. Some of the blame is on me, because I did so a similar thing once I created the activity. I didn’t want to consume good takeaways by creating my very own, so I “reshared” existing memes that I found. I did a poor job of modeling the merchandise I was longing for. I think I put much emphasis on “heading viral” too, so most of the memes did not reflect on learning actually. Students were too focused on finding something funny if it didn’t connect to our learning process even.

My student’s state of mind about what this means to generate is a little different than mine. I talked to many of these about this plus they look at “resharing” somebody else’s work in almost the same manner I was thinking about creating and writing an original work. I am not somebody who provides up easily and I considered my first attempt as of this activity as a good learning experience for both my students and me. We’d a good conversation about what proceeded to go right and what proceeded to go incorrect and I thought were ready at attempt around two a couple weeks later.

Better results in round two, but more disappointment still. I used the same wording and format but spent more time on a verbal description. This was not enough apparently. There were a few more original works, but otherwise, copy my bullet points from round one here. Third time’s the attraction, right? We talked and I changed the format of the activity a bit again. Much better results. Still not perfect, but close to where I hoped we’d be the first time around.

I’m looking forward to adjust a little and attempting again. I am going to probably do this at least one more time this is, using the format of the third example. Maybe tweak the wording a bit and then add spin that connects the meme to their daily lives. When you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them?

I do think that I am going to use my first failure next year the very first time I do this with my new students because I think it ended up being a valuable area of the learning experience. Let me see if a fresh group of students requires me down a similar path.

In days gone by knowledge was something with the energy to free people. It was focused in the tactile hands of colleges, where it was openly taught to those with the ability to learn (and of course the money to pay any tuition fees). But today we live in an age ‘big data’.

The current global epoch may also be called the ‘information age’. The web has made knowledge and information more accessible than it has ever been, and many commentators have written about how this is empowering normal people. It may be, however, that it is authorities and big business who will be the most empowered – and at our expense. Big data is the buzz phrase of the day. This is actually the analysis of large sums of data and is incredibly powerful.

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