Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

It’s 2020, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that technology can be used to enhance learning. But have you ever thought of using memes as a learning tool?

That’s right. Memes!

Memes are images, videos, or micro texts that are spread rapidly by internet users. They are typically humorous in nature and are often copied (with slight variations) to make different, amusing points. Here are a few examples:

But memes are not only amusing ways to pass the time when riding the bus. They carry powerful symbolic meaning and are often used to provide sharp and concise social and political commentary on a particular phenomenon. In other words, they are a means of critique. And they can also be extremely helpful tools to help learners reflect and summarise a topic or idea as well as a simple and effective means of classroom communication.

Creating memes for deep learning
Asking learners to create a meme is a great way to get them to think carefully about a topic. Summarising a complex issue in an extremely short format forces learners to reflect thoroughly on the various aspects of that topic. In a group situation they will also need to discuss and argue for why their own interpretation is more relevant than that of others. Did somebody say deep learning?

Memes also enable communication in a simple format with which many learners are already familiar. They can hence be used as a substitute or complement to other ways of communicating. For example, as icebreakers and check-ins.

Memes as icebreakers
You could ask learners to choose and upload a meme (or gif) that represents themselves before class. This is not only a light-hearted way to make an introduction but also encourages questions and discussions, which can help learners get to know each other better.

Memes as check-ins
Memes and gifs can be used during lectures to give quick and simple feedback to teachers about how learners are feeling about new material. This kind response might also be more quick, honest and more forthcoming than verbal feedback.

I recently had my first experience using memes as a learning tool and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked out. Have you tried anything similar? I would love to hear your experiences and advice in the comments.

The power of memes for learning