Created: November 2012. Last Updated: July 2018.
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Participants will examine the role of perspective when evaluating information linked to their online presence or the online presence of others. They will gain awareness of the relevant contextual factors (e.g., time, cultural, social, local / regional / global) that impact one’s online presence. Additionally, participants will consider the implications of the information they share online on their relationships with family, friends, and authority figures (e.g., teachers, employers).
[10 minutes] Activity #1
[40 minutes] Activity #2
[20 minutes] Activity #3
[30 minutes] Assignment
Depending on the time you have allotted for each group meeting, we suggest you engage in the final two exercises of this learning experience (“Activity #3” and “Assignment”) in your second group convening.
[One per group of 3-4 participants] Handout: Kassra’s fabricated social media profile
Projector and projection screen
[For participants] Computers or mobile devices with Internet access
Flip chart (or poster)
[One per group of 3-4 participants] Slips of paper with names of individuals in Kassra’s life
[One per group of 3-4 participants for Activity #2 and one per participant for the Assignment] Paper
[One per participant] Pens or pencils
Printout of figure-ground illusion
Book chapter excerpt: Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence-Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs, excerpt from Social Media and Student Identity Development chapter [pages 95-99; up to ”....in healthy development.”] - by Rey Junco
- Image: Figure-ground Illusion - by Wikimedia Commons (uploaded by Guam)
Activity #1: What Is Perspective?
[Project the figure-ground illusion image on a projection screen. While asking questions, ask participants to come up and point out which image they see]
What do you see when you look at this image?
How many of you see the vase?
How many of you see the two faces?
Can you see both at once?
What you see can depend on your perspective. What do you think perspective is?
[Write down participant definitions on the flip chart / poster.]
[If no good definition is provided.] SAY: Perspective is a particular attitude towards something; a point of view.
Here’s another example. Let’s say our friend Azul just made it onto the school football team. When he tells his mom “I made it onto the football team!” his mother is very proud of him.
When Azul tells his best friend, Raviv, that he made it onto the team, Raviv says that he is very happy for Azul.
Azul also tells his friend Val he made it onto to the football team. Val, however, had also tried out, and Azul got her spot. So, Val is not so happy.
Azul is also a member of the science club, and now he has to miss science meetings so he can go to football practice. When he tells Dani, the president of the science club, she isn’t very happy either.
All of these different people in Azul’s life heard the same piece of information: Azul made it onto the football team.
Why do they all react differently?
Do their different perspectives, and their various relationships to Azul, matter? Why or why not?
Can you think of any other examples of how various people might view the same situation differently?
Why does perspective matter?
Activity #2: Thinking Caps
[Divide participants into groups of 3-4. Give each group a piece of paper and pens or pencils.]
I’m going to hand each group a handout with Kassra’s fabricated social media profile and a slip of paper. On the slip of paper is the name of someone in Kassra’s life.
[Distribute one slip of paper per group.]
[Potential roles / people in Kassra’s life:
Kassra’s mother, who is concerned for her son’s safety
Kassra’s best friend, who looks up to him
A girl at a neighboring school, who doesn’t know Kassra
A potential boss who is considering Kassra for a job]
As a group, imagine that you are looking at this social media profile through the eyes of the person on the slip of paper. Who do you think Kassra is? What assumptions can you make? What does he like? What does he dislike? What has he commented on? What are your perceptions of Kassra, based on your perspective? You will have ten minutes. Write down takeaways from the conversation on the paper. Be prepared to present at the end!
[Ask each group to present a few takeaways from the group conversation.]
What were some of the differences in the ways that you perceived and evaluated Kassra?
Why do you think those differences exist?
Do you think that all of these evaluations are accurate? Why or why not?
Can you think of times when this happened in your life — when the same information was interpreted differently by different people?
How many of you have had disagreements with your parents / caregivers about content online? How about disagreements with friends?
How many of you use social media platforms? Do you think about how other people perceive your social media profiles?
Have you ever deleted content or untagged yourself in content shared on social media (e.g., photos, videos, text-based posts)? Why or why not?
Activity #3: Reflections on Perspective
Think about the different ways that people in your life know you.
Do you ever act differently around different people? Do you talk the same way to your parents / caregivers or teachers as you do to your friends? Why or why not?
We may be slightly different people depending on where we are and who we're with.
As part of this activity, we are going to discuss how you present yourself online, especially on social media, and how others may perceive you in different ways depending on their perspective.
Do you present yourself differently online to different people?
For example, on one platform (e.g., Facebook) you might use your real name, but do you use your real name for everything you do on the Internet (e.g., on some platforms you may not go by your real name, or may be anonymous)? Why or why not?
Do you think that the information you’ve shared online about yourself shows the whole picture of who you are? Do you think your social media profiles tell the entire story? Why or why not?
How might people view you if they only had access to some of your information? For example, would your parents’ / caregivers’ perspective change if they saw everything you did on one platform but not on another?
Do you ever keep your posts private? Why or why not?
We talked a lot about perspective today. Based on our conversation, what is one thing you learned about perspective?
What is another way that perspective affects how we evaluate information? Can you name a recent current event where this was relevant? How is perspective important not just in our personal lives, but on the news as well?
Ask participants to:
Take a photo / screenshot of any social media post (e.g., photo, video, text-based post) [it does not have to be their own].
Identify three roles in relation to the individual’s social media post (e.g., friend, family member, teacher), and, for each role, in a short paragraph describe how the individual might think about this post.
In the last 10 minutes, divide participants into pairs, and have them share with their partner at least two ways they believe perspective is important in the context of the post they chose.