cheaT-shirts & Rubber Bands

Posted by & filed under Ideas.

During last week’s Circles of Innovation session (Benevolent Contagion), groups met across the college to  talk about ways to apply Jonah Berger’s STEPPS to making
learning contagious. The six STEPPS he discusses in his book are Social Capital, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical, & Stories, and if you would like to learn more about that please go to the outsourced memory for that session.

While discussing the part about making learning public, Lisa Potchen (Thanks Lisa) introduced me to a teaching trick that I had not heard of before. She mentioned that she had CASEd (Copy And Steal Everything – for those of you not familiar with the term) the idea from Julie Phelps (Thanks Julie). And as I understood it, the idea was to allow students to have open notes on a test or quiz, but to earn that right, they had to put those notes onto a T-shirt that they would wear to class. I thought this was a clever idea because it was an efficient way to make the private public. We all know the people walking around campus are students, but what are they studying? How do we start conversations with them related to what they are studying? A cheaT-shirt (like the animated GIF below) puts that information right out in public for everyone to see and discuss. I wonder how many more conversations students have as a result of wearing shirts like this? Moreover, in what ways can the conversations the shirts cause enhance learning and/or interest in a course or subject?



Playing with the cheaT-shirt idea also got me wondering if there were other ways to make private classroom learning more public. So I Googled some articles on innovative ways to cheat figuring I could learn a little bit about what today’s students are doing while simultaneously looking for other ways to make the private public. Here is a link to one of the more interesting articles on the topic….

How College Students Cheat On In-Class Examinations: Creativity, Strain, and Techniques of Innovation by Phillip Shon

In the article, among other things, Shon discusses the use of ordinary objects for cheating. One of the objects he discusses is the rubber band. Apparently, if you stretch a rubber band around a book and write on the stretched surface, when the rubber band contracts, the writing is hidden. I had to test that out. The animated GIF below demonstrates this hack. (if you would like to learn more about how to make animated GIFs, click here). Well long story short, the discussion of rubber bands immediately triggered my memory of how Jonah Berger had given the example of Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Bracelets as a tool for making the private public.



So now I am wondering… is there any way I can use rubber bands to get students to talk more about content in my classes? I am also wondering how I could use this for jigsaw activities or other activities. I guess I will just have to give it a try and see what happens.


Leave a Reply