Sunday, November 3, 2013

Using character and acting to raise awareness of pretense and marketing on social media

I had the opportunity to co-teach a lesson on character in a Theater Arts class and it was a pretty interesting experience. The goals of the 90 minute session were:

  1. To have students explore their character by attempting to Tweet in character
  2. To raise awareness of nuance, marketing and manipulative behaviors that occur on Twitter and other social media
  3. To promote savvy social-media behaviors, even if that does mean 'acting'
The lesson structure was as follows:

  1. Begin with survey about social media use
  2. Presentation: Analysis of Taylor Swift's Twitter account
  3. Tweet-a-Character assignment: compose 10 Tweets using character (previous lesson was character analysis)
  4. Peer Analysis of Tweet-a-Character
  5. Closing reflection including short post-survey
In addition to fitting into the class, I used this lesson as a research study.  

The pre-activity survey revealed the following:

  • Of the 103 participants, 73% said that they do follow actors/actresses, politicians, musicians, and other celebrities on Twitter, Instagram or Social Media
  • Of those that follow musicians, actors, etc, students tended to agree that they were more likely to go to a movie or download a song if they followed an artist on Twitter or Instagram
After the presentation and role-playing activity, 37% of respondents were less likely to believe in celebrities online profiles, seeing them as more commercial in nature.  The vast majority of respondents, over 60%, continued to believe that some celebrities are more authentic than others, believing that others are genuine and not driven only for sales or fame.

I'm still processing the data and reflecting on the activity, but I do think it was a worthwhile exercise, one that is worth more time over and above the 90 minutes I gave it. Any interested reader may request the lesson. I will send all 4 files. 

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