Our 8th grade (ages 13-14) film students were introduced to the down and dirty process of innovation that is often used here in the silicon valley. They were essentially introduced to the concept of "launching quickly, gathering feedback, measuring impact, and then iterating." Students were tasked to focus on one of the "antecedents to peace" and to create a video that would persuade people to act in a way that positively impacted one of these antecedents. Students were then challenged to figure out VERY SIMPLE ways to measure changes in behavior when posting their videos at facebook.
Students were given a VERY limited amount of time (two class periods that were roughly 50 minutes in length) to choose an antecedent, determine how they would measure impact, and produce and post a video to facebook. The videos encouraged viewers to do something and then respond back with a comment or like. Students worked in teams of 2-3 (it is important to note that NOT all students have a facebook page. This was OK, because these students were just simply paired up with a student who had an account). All videos were posted so that they were only visible to their friends. Students engaged in this process and then shared their work and results in class today.
Results and an Example:
In class each one of the groups shared their video and the comments/likes by actually showing their Facebook pages on the projector. This was cool. One group created a 30 second video overview of the popular website, "Freerice," and challenged viewers to go to Freerice and answer questions to help combat world hunger. To measure change in behavior and impact of their video, the students asked that their peers report back with a like and/or a comment if they actually played Freerice. This group shared that their video received well over 40 likes along with a few comments. They even showed us how one person re-posted and shared the video on her wall-so cool! Other projects were equally compelling-one group created a video showing others engaging in random acts of kindness and then challenged viewers to do a random act of kindness on their own and report back on the video with a like.
I'm proud of this teacher and her class for taking this risk. To my knowledge, something like this has NEVER been attempted before with a group of Middle School students. We are overly bombarded with messages of the negatives associated with youth and social networks and I'm pleased to see this best practice example firsthand.
Here is what could've happened but didn't:
- others could've left mean and derogatory comments-didn't happen
- others could've said something embarrassing in the comments-didn't happen
- someone could've said a swear word in the comments-didn't happen
What happened with this class proves that Facebook and other popular social network platforms CAN be used in ways that are both meaningful and thoughtful with students (not that what they do for purely social purposes isn't meaningful and thoughtful as well). These students engaged in real, authentic social science as they created these videos and collected feedback at Facebook. I'm hopeful that we'll continue to see innovative and creative uses of spaces like Facebook in our classrooms in the future.