Whenever I come across an inspired teaching strategy or lesson, I get giddy with excitement. Well, if giddiness is a measure of great ideas, then I am woozy and lightheaded right now. Who do I have to thank for this? Robin Bates , of course.
Bates stands at the convergence of Facebook and Jane Austen. Huh? Well, talk about Remix Culture at it’s finest…
Bates lesson is developed around the question, “What is Jane Austen had access to Facebook?” Students taking a seminar on Jane Austen, created Facebook pages for eight Austen characters. Complete with images from Austen inspired films, the students were challenged to develop a persona that embodied the character. Students used their laptops and went to work on Facebook developing the character traits by communicated with each other, unfriending each other, and adjusting their relationship statuses as needed.
After being totally moved by this lesson in Austen meets Facebook, I did a bit of digging only to determine that Bates was not the first to facilitate this unlikely marriage. In 2009, Virginia Claire, another English professor and admirer of all things Austen crafted a similar assignment. Her students took on Facebook personas and, as she described, “taken to the fullest extent.” While both of these examples are from college professors, the basic premise and theoretical underpinnings have application for any grade level.
In fact, in terms of digital pedagogy, this lesson works on multiple levels.
- Students were able to work in a medium that they already knew, had confidence in, and could readily navigate.
- Students had an opportunity to use creativity, define many parameters of how far they would go with their characters, and take on full accountability of how the project developed.
- Students went far beyond the low levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. This is a key element that many educators misinterpret with digital pedagogy. The concept is that students go further than they would normally. Getting to the point of synthesis and evaluation is evident in this lesson and
many successful convergences of literature and digital media.
Inspired? I am. Another great example of social media and literacy convergence.
Read in detail about the lesson as taught by Robin Bates here.
Read more about this lesson as taught by Virginia Claire here.