The activity is designed to open a work session regarding online communication / social media. Participants are asked to focus on the unbelievable amount of messages/inputs/contents we get and send/share everyday. Then the activity simulates what is happening in the communication flow, creating an overdose of overlapping messages to be sent and received simultaneously by the whole group.
- to understand the background noise in online communication
- to realize how many different messages are overlapping each other in every social media profile
- to understand the need of a well structured and defined online communication in order to get recognition in this information overdose
Participants are introduced to the topic of online solidarity through a presentation available here which starts with a survey about online services / sites / logos, and a little game about stereotypes and cultural clashes, to introduce the concept of an online code of conduct, and the need to use the right words / voice in online communication.
Then the method is proposed, as a game and a way to reflect together on how to find and tune this voice.
Step by step description
A few participants (roughly ¼ of the group) receive some token or mark (a sticker / post it / whatever) while entering the room and are asked to keep it for later on.
When the presentation comes to the point of introducing the game, all participants are invited to take a sheet and a pen, and write “a post”: something they would write/post on their favourite social media platform: it can be a written message in words, a (drawn) picture, a short text, etc.
Only the ones who got the mark at the beginning are invited to write a post addressing some social issue, promoting solidarity, supporting some cause or the like.
When all posts are written, participants are invited to create a paper plane with their sheet.
At the count of 3, all paper planes are flown in the room.
Every participant is invited to pick up the one closer to him/herself.
Once everybody has a plane, at the count of 3 all posts are read at the same time.
A discussion is started with some questions (see below).
After the reflection, all participants are invited to split in small groups to help the ones with the mark in making their next “posts” more appealing, visually interesting, better written etc.
The new posts are presented to the whole group.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
The discussion is started asking if the simulation has something to do with the participants’ experience of social media platforms’ "inhabitants".
During debriefing, it might be useful to use questions like if they ever had the impression of such a small impact of their communication, or if they had some new insight/idea on how to shape their online communication in order to reach a wider audience.
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
The method could be adapted to suit all needs of educational activities involving social media, for instance privacy issues:
Write a secret, then make it a plane and fly it to someone else who will read it and know about it… and who could try to guess whose secret this is.
Variations might include the creation of a more visual product: a collage, even better if made by participants’ pictures, a painting, etc. could resonate more to fast spreading of new “visual” social media platforms (Instagram, Snapchat etc).
A good follow-up activity is „Activism or clicktivism?”.
Reference / original source of the method
The method is an original creation of Michele Di Paola who facilitated it during his workshop "Solidarity goes online and…" at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2015 in Sarajevo. The activity has been inspired by a discussion with some students during a peer education process, dealing with digital media knowledge in a high school in Italy.