Tag Archives: social media

The best of April Fool’s Day

If you’re looking for something a little fun and are dealing with technology, the media or the environment, you might like to try out one or two of these April Fool’s videos with your students. They are not only fun but they will also provoke interesting discussions:

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Google Nose (2013) is linguistically quite tough in places, but all students will be able to follow the general idea. Although it is meant as a bit of fun, the technology is being developed and scientists are looking into how “electronic noses” could actually be used. The following blog post on the Washington Post contains a few ideas and the students could then find out more on the Internet.

The Google Nose homepages for Germany and the US also shed some interesting light on intercultural differences: The headline on the US page was “Smelling is believing” (a twist on the saying “Seeing is believing”), but the German version had the somewhat plain and simple “Suchen und riechen”. The students should discuss why a different approach might have been chosen for each country and whether they think this was appropriate or not.

Guardian Goggles (2013) was a take on Google glass and shows how the media could influence our everyday choices. Although it is tongue-in-cheek, the students could discuss how much of what is presented is, in fact, possible (with smartphones, etc.).

Google Cardboard Plastic (2016) Google’s latest ad pokes fun at our obsession with seeing everything through special lenses and could either be combined with the Guardian Goggles above or with the following photo (a crowd of people watching an event through their mobiles and one old lady actually watching it directly) that went viral last year. It raises an interesting question of how we actually experience what is going on around us. You’ll find more suggestions at Louise’s Teaching Tips on the muc-kobis.de website where you can download the pdf “Mobile phones, social media and me” with links and teaching ideas.

The BBC video Penguins (2008) was so well-produced that many people were left wondering whether it was true or not. It is a short documentary-like clip about a special colony of birds that migrate to the Amazon each year to escape climate change … In addition there is short behind-the-scenes video Making of Penguins that shows how they managed to get the birds to fly.

Have fun and do send me your favourites!

The US President stars in an advert with a difference

In this tongue-in-cheek video “Things everybody does but doesn’t talk about” President Obama is waiting for an interviewer to arrive. The video shows the interviewer and the President preparing for the interview (in similar ways but different places). To pass the time, the President gets out a selfie stick, plays air basketball, makes doodles of his wife, practises delivering his pitch in which he tells people to sign up for his health care plan and even uses current slang at the end, saying “Yolo” (you only live once) …

The video was created by BuzzFeed, the American Internet news media company. It was conceived as a way of connecting with millennials and getting them to sign up for the President’s health care plan (there is a link to the website at the end). As interviews using traditional media, such as newspapers would probably not have reached this target group, the President took to social media. The video was posted on Facebook on 12 February 2015, and within an hour of being online, it had been viewed over 1.5 million times.

It is not the first time that President Obama has embraced different media as a way of reaching out to people, especially young people. JFK is often said to be the first president who really understood television, Obama is the first social media president: he was the first US presidential candidate to effectively use social media (Facebook and Twitter) as a major campaign strategy way back in 2008, fine-tuned this strategy for his run in 2012, was interviewed by three young YouTube stars after his State of the Union, and was also the first president to appear on a late-night comedy show while in office.

Critics have claimed that the video is disrespectful to the office of president and that such tongue-in-cheek behaviour is unpresidential. The cartoonist Michael Ramirez commented in this cartoon and Mark W. Davis, a White House speechwriter for President George Bush, wrote, “The same face that mugs in the mirror and sticks out a tongue may have to go on television to announce the beginning of a war. The same hand that holds a selfie stick will certainly have to sign condolence letters.”

To joke around or not to joke around – what do your students think?