Exploring Online Memes as Pedagogical Tools in Health Knowledge and Behaviour


This exploratory workshop consisted of a rapid, intuitive, exploratory session around the following briefing: create a meme that displays understandable, accessible health-related content. The workshop addressed current scientific mistrust - partly due to a chasm between hermetic authoritative discourse, and the allure of subjective skepticism. Online disinformation has been pointed out as a main contributing factor in this phenomenon, particularly during the recent pandemic: often critical of scientific reliability, often using crude humour and irony - yet always direct, impactful, and accessible. The session therefore explored how health experts and policy-makers could benefit from communicating beyond formal discourse, adopting online semantics and aesthetics as tools for pedagogy with skeptical demographics. Participants consisted of voluntary conference delegates attending the respective session. Hand-produced memes explored the unlikely merging of reliable scientific information and delirious online semantics. A range of visual content, sourced from online meme communities and meme generator apps (and printed prior to the session), were provided in order to be captioned with statements created on the spot: images were printed prior to the session, and captions were handwritten using markers. This revisitation of tangible, material processes goes against expectations that memes have an exclusively digital existence, thus opening new possibilities for hybrid discourse and outcomes. Lastly, the group reflected on the pedagogical applicability of the outcomes in design classrooms, online communities, and public campaigns. The output was a collection of large-size, low-resolution printed/handwritten memes. The workshop ended with a group discussion on the viability and applicability of the produced drafts and adopted processes.

Author Information
Heitor Alvelos, University of Porto, Portugal
Jorge Brandão Pereira, Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2023
Stream: Visual Culture

This paper is part of the BAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Alvelos H., & Pereira J. (2023) Exploring Online Memes as Pedagogical Tools in Health Knowledge and Behaviour ISSN: 2435-9475 – The Barcelona Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9475.2023.26
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9475.2023.26

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon