Memes Madness! Reflections and Connections from #clmooc


These reflections and connections come from a Make Cycle focused on creation of making memes by Peter Kittle, Kim Jaxon and Jarret Krone of the Northern California Writing Project for the 2014 Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration (CLMOOC). Originally published on July 29, 2014

Beyond the makes themselves, many participants shared compelling blog posts focused on complicating and extending our thinking about memes. Shyam Sharma’s thoughtful considering of the variations of meaning attributed to owls led to an inquiry into the memes of writing across cultural bounds. Shyam’s post inspired Maha Bali to write about the complications of using even seemingly “natural” animal symbols like dogs, cows, and pigs, finally leading to some thoughts about rhizomatic learning. Chris Campbell took the concept of the meme and applied it to the ways that references work in films, and by extension invited us to think about what the rich knowledge of cultural memes, broadly considered, provides for us.

In our Twitter chat Thursday, we were struck by the connections being made between writing memes and writing in more familiar genres: even when we’re composing with images, we’re still considering purpose, context, audience, and the affordances (and limitations) of form. These writing practices—with their focus on context, audience, and purpose—may be “the basics” we can work with as we support students. Perhaps we can move from our “old” memes—the five paragraph essay comes to mind—and toward  “new memes” for education such as participation and collaboration. How do we turn the principles of Connected Learning into memes that spread in educational settings? How do we condense complex ideas—openly networked, peer supported, and production centered learning—down to a morsel? As Peter Kittle’s Ignite talk reminds us: “Education needs better memes.”

Reflecting on Memes and Meme-Making

Memes in their most-common online form are the very incarnation of brevity. For reflecting on Make Cycle #2, we invite you to elaborate on your experiences with memes this week in a longer form. Maybe you’d like to reflect using one of the tools people used in their Make Cycle #1 How To projects (a ThingLink? a Hackpad? a Canva? a HaikuDeck?) to create a “How to think about memes and education” project. Perhaps a blog post would better suit your purposes (see Mindy Early’s “Mentorship and Writing Economically” post, or Peter Kittle’s NWP 40th blog post to see how memes and blogging can work together). Regardless of form, we would appreciate hearing about your making processes (successes, failures, iterations, ah-ha moments, stuck places, and everything in between), your insights about memes, your perceptions of ties to Connected Learning, and your thinking about the roles memes could play in your classrooms, and in your roles as educational leaders.

What’s Ahead

We look forward to what you continue to share in Make Cycle #3. (Nor is it too late to share a How To Guide from Make Cycle #1, or to continue making memes). The third Make Cycle begins on Monday and facilitators Terry Elliot from the Western Kentucky Writing Project and Joe Dillon from the Denver Writing Project will bring games and gaming into our Connected Learning space. We’re excited to make, learn, and play next week. Until then, keep meming and reflecting!

This post is part of the Connections and Reflections from CLMOOC 2014 collection.