Type of tool: 
Multimedia tool – Report
30-60 min
Topics addressed: 

A simple digital storytelling activity, using instagram pictures / videos and some hashtags.
It may be used to open up discussions and increase awareness on how online pictures and video may have impact and leave traces, differences from reality etc.


Addressing digital education topics (online pictures and videos impact, etc) with a "classic" non formal education activity, engaging participants and fostering team building processes.Opening up discussions on controversial topics without directly referring to personal experiences, using the result of the activity instead.


The tools applys principles from discovery based learning and peer learning, asking participants to create something with their hands, collaborating with others, and then sharing it online. At this point, they will be asked to discuss and define together which aspects / treats of personality may be told out of what has been uploaded.This will lead them to discover how easily labels can be attached to people due to what appears in their pics etc.

Step by step process: 
  • divide participants in groups of 3-4-5 persons
  • be sure that every group has someone with a mobile device with the instagram app installed onto, using a public profile - or provide them with a pre-created one if they are on private profiles and (correctly!) do not want to open up their pictures to the world.
  • make every group choose 1 or 2 hashtag which you have previously written on different cards. 
  • The hashtag will define the topics of the scenes to be pictured: for instance #lunchtime , #partyallnight, #youthwork etc etc
  • put all materials (onions, costume parts etc) on a table, and give 15-20+ mins to the groups to think about the 1-2 scenes they have to create according to the picked hashtags, create the settings, style up the onions' costumes etc
  • ask them to share picture of the scenes on instagram using the hashtag #briantheonion AND the hashtag they picked
  • put on the beamer the website or, login with your personal instagram account and search for #briantheonion
  • refresh the page every few seconds, and pictures from the different groups will start to appear!
  • when all pictures have appeared, ask every group to write down 4-5 ideas about Brian The Onion character, way of acting, what he likes or dislikes, his personality etc etc.
  • Share the results in plenary, writing the results on a flipchart. Is this the real Brian? Is it not? How we can tell?
  • Open up and facilitate a discussion on how easily labels can be attached out of online pictures, generalisations could be done starting from a single piece of picture, etc etc


Materials and resources: 
  • some onions (1 - 2 every group of 3-4-5 participants)
  • markers, colored paper, tapes, scissors, glue and everything could be used to create a costume for the onions
  • any kind of other material to turn the onion into a character: feathers, little eyes, small hats, etc etc
  • a few mobile devices with instagram app installed (1 for every group of 3-4-5 participants)
  • a PUBLIC working instagram account associated with every app (you can either ask participants to put their profiles as public for a while, or provide them with some pre-created profiles. In this case you have to create them one by one on a mobile with instagram app on it. Use different emails - ie briantheonion1, briantheonion2 etc- for the different profiles)
  • internet connection
  • a device (pc - laptop - tablet - smartphone) connected to a beamer / big screen
  • your own instagram account (or one that you created for this activity) to enter the instagram website or to sign up on the search engine website to retrieve the pictures
  • more knowledge about the impact of an online picture / video on someone's reputation and public image.
  • more understanding on how people can interpretate very differently the same picture, getting opposite/different meanings out of it
  • some learning and use of creativity using mobile devices... instead of being used by them :)



Used in Dig-It Up! training course in Rome 2015; presented in #DDYW - Defining Digital Youth Work - conference in Oulu Finland in 2016.These are some results of the evaluation processes: 

  • The big advantage is to include technology in non formal education processes in a simple, easy way to address some of the possible problems that technology itself could bring.
  • The potentialities are the great, wide possible range of topics and aspects that could be addressed by the tool simply changing, increasing, better-defining the various hashtags that teams have to pick up.
  • The only limit is the need for mobile devices, instagram account and internet connection.


Notes for further use: 

Please always use the hashtag #briantheonion when using this tool! We are very curious to discover who, how, when, where our tool is being used! Of course the onion can be anything else instead (a potato? any kind of fruit or vegetable?) and you can narrow the choice of possible moments to depict in the pictures, using more specific hashtags. This could lead also to address more specific topics: gender issues, (cyber)bullying, sexting, hate speech...    As said, since the tool works only with *public* instagram account, and you may not want your participants to open up their profiles, you could provide a few pre-registered accounts to the participants to avoid privacy issues.

Tool Fair upload: 
Average: 4 (4 votes)
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