SOCIAL MEDIA AND CLASSICAL LITERATURE TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
This paper reports and discusses an experience carried out in the second year of a Humanistic high school, within a course of Latin literature whose program included the reading of several chapters of the Latin poem Aeneid. Towards the end of the school year, in order to rehearse that reading and make the students summarize their learning on it, the teacher asked the students, divided into small groups, to create a FaceBook profile for the poem's main character, Aeneas, selecting in the poem's text what they considered the main points of his story, and using modern language, yet proper to the situation and characters involved in each episode reported.
The main learning aims of this activity were to stimulate the students 1) to look back at the poem in its entirety, making a synthesis on its content, an aspect that is often neglected in the study of classical literature, where the main emphasis is usually on analytical work on text and contents; 2) to make the students reflect on the use of language, remarking how expressive forms change over time, on how different expressive codes (mainly verbal text, pictures and movies) can contribute in complementary way to meaning communication, and on what makes expressive forms more or less suitable to different situations and characters. Following this second point, the study also aimed to investigate the level of social media literacy of well-learned teenagers.
The data analysed include:
1) students' productions (the pages created on FB);
2) the creation processes (students' notes during the activity and experimenter's observations);
3) students' opinions (the answers to an end-of-activity questionnaire).
All students managed to make a meaningful Aeneas' profile, though with different degrees of accuracy, richness and creativity. They reported to appreciate the activity and the collaboration process. The data also highlight, however, the wide and urgent need to improve students' communication skills, both at general level and in relation to the use of social spaces, and provide us the opportunity to discuss learning needs and possible solutions in this field.