Did you watch the Kony video?
Have you planked?
Have you created a Hitler learns video?
Did you participate #pencilchat?
If you’re a programmer have you investigated node.js?
No? Maybe you should have.
Self-directed learning is dependent of making good informed decisions, the better informed we can be the better decisions we can make about our learning. What to investigate, what not to. Memes and other things become viral because the Internet amplifies things of worth. For self-directed learners this is profound opportunity.
Many of these memes may have short shelf life if they, they spring to life and quickly fade, but what they do is articulate and amplify an important idea or concept. While often they may seem superficial on the surface, the reasons that they become viral is because they contain something deeper. Participating in these memes, leads to a collective sense of understanding of agreement. Pencil chat a short lived twitter hashtag, parodied the absurdness of many schools technology policies. Similarly, the Hitler videos allowed anyone to voice a complaint about anything. Both of these not only raised the issue but also used humour to maybe suggest that sometimes our complaints and concerns are over the top. Other memes draw great attention to new or interesting things, think Kony or node.js.
Of course, none of this would be obvious, or an opportunity for learning, if we didn’t participate. Rather it would be an opportunity lost.
As schools, rather than banning things such as planking, we should be participating in it, rather than ridiculing trying to understand it’s worth. For our students and for us as life-long self-directed learners, the message should be participate, just participate.