Teaching Materials - Exercise

Instagram in Real

Name of Artist Educator: Cheung Wai Lok
Excercise Category: Self-awareness

Many people browse social media regularly as a daily habit, for example they check in at some specific places and share on internet, or upload selfies they feel satisfied onto social media to meet new friends......

Concept / Inspiration:

Many people browse social media regularly as a daily habit, for example they check in at some specific places and share on internet, or upload selfies they feel satisfied onto social media to meet new friends. We could see that social media has a certain level of impact in our lives and even our senses of identity.

We could say our behaviour pattern in social media is originated from our individual mindset, but in an opposite way, these behaviour could also influence our mindsets imperceptibly. In the cyber world, it is easier for us to present our better sides, and also easier to choose to read what we feel like to read. Various online platforms would also cater our preferences, they choose what we prefer for ourselves. This imperceptible filter process affects the information we receive, as well as the world we get in touch with.

If we could think further about our behaviour pattern of using social media, what kind of reflection would it bring to ourselves?


  1. Begin from the social media that students are familiar with, to introspect the interactive relationship between themselves and the cyber world.
  2.  Allow students to have better consciousness towards self and self-shaping.

Materials / Equipment:

1.Mobile phones (Part One)
2.Camera, different types of cards, painting brush, pigment, scissors, glue and basic craft tools (Part Two)


Inside Classroom

Workshop Description:

The activity is divided into two parts, each part lasts for 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Objective: Link the topics of self and social media together for discussion. Analyze with students the purpose of taking selfies, and let them to develop ability of self-consciousness and introspection towards the value hidden behind those behaviour, meanwhile train their observation ability of various visual languages.

Part One
Cute or not? | (20 minutes)

1. Educator first shows different portraits or pictures of cartoon characters, including cartoon characters, idols or political figures. Students vote on which one is the cutest and the least cute.

2. Each student writes down adjectives opposite to “cute”, and then according to the vote result, discuss together the elements for making the character cute or not cute.

3. Read the reference article. Encourage students to try to express their opinions whether they agree or disagree on the point of view of the article.

Notes: The purpose of the discussion is to let students begin to have better consciousness towards self and self-shaping.

GIVE ME LIKES│(15 minutes)
1.Students share their most “liked” pictures on social platforms (e.g. Facebook, IG) to each other.

2.Look carefully at these most “liked” pictures with students, and consider how others think about themselves. Do you think that is who you really are? And then discuss about how social media influences the way people judge or think of others.

Example questions:
What were you thinking when you were taking this picture?
Why did you share this picture on social platforms?
How did you pick this picture to upload?
What would be the consequences of uploading this picture?
What is the meaning behind this picture?

3.Apart from discussing the topics of social media and self, also observe with students that what kind of filters or angles were adopted in this picture and what effects were created, so as to allow students to analyze visual languages from selfies, a medium that is close to daily life. In this session, remind students that the discussion does not mean to judge if the behaviour is right or wrong, but to train themselves to have more sensitive observation abilities against various visual languages, as well as to learn to analyze the purpose of those behaviour, so that they could develop self-conscious and introspect ability towards the value hidden behind those behaviours.

Taking selfies | (30 min)
1.Educator teaches some simple concepts of using lights for shooting portraits, and analyze the atmosphere created, like the angle of shooting, the direction of lighting, artificial light and natural light, the creation of light and dark, shading effects etc.

2.Allow students to take selfies with camera apps (like SNOW, B612). It aims to encourage students to discuss their thoughts behind the behaviour of taking selfies, their habits of using filters, as well as to look for other filter effects, so that they could think of the meaning of applying filters to selfies. In this exercise, students must be allowed to use mobile phones instead of cameras, because, first, students are expected to use selfie apps they are familiar with; second, students could be encouraged to try several apps with different effects.

3.Choose the most satisfied product for sharing.

Part Two:
Objective: Allow students to make their own props and bring the effects from artificial world to reality. At a slower pace, intensify the actual sense of cyber world and to further consider the meaning of selfie-taking.

Camera handling | (20 minutes)
1.Allow students to get to know basic functions of camera and practise to control. Also let students to try different filter functions of several cameras.

2.Revise lighting and portrait shooting skills introduced in Part One, including shooting angles, light directions, artificial light and natural light, creation of light and dark, shading effects, etc.

Instagram in Real | (45 minutes)
1.According to the selfie picture chosen in Part One, students create real tools for photo shooting and imitate the same picture.

2.If lesson time is sufficient, it is suggested to do a discussion session after taking selfies. Print or develop students’ selfies instantly, so as to intensify the actual experience. Meanwhile to hold a discussion with students on the relationship between self and social media. If time is insufficient, make it homework for students.

Students choose another selfie with special effects applied. They do not need to imitate the selfies and materialize them, instead, use photo retouching apps to exaggerate the effects. After students got their extreme and exaggerated selfies, review the selfies and try to comment whether it is right or wrong.

Tutorial Hints

  • This exercise mainly aims to discuss self from the perspectives of appearance and cyber world. It is suggested to have further discussion through Cheung Wai Lok’s another exercise “DIY Student Portrait”. Students could explore their identities through school life experiences.。
  • During Part Two, students were shocked realizing they had to take selfies without retouching apps, they even said: “Are we not allowed to use Photoshop for retouching the selfies? If so, I have to put on some makeup!” From this reaction, educators knew that students were already able to recognize the linkage between artificial retouching tools and actual makeup, in this case educators could lead them to further consider the interrelationship between self and cyber world.

Actual Outcome:

Most students liked using popular camera apps for selfies. They liked adopting cute animals image filters.

When students were making their props, they needed to transform two-dimensional elements into wearable accessories, so they had to decide the accessories’ sizes and colours, they also needed to keep reviewing their selected selfies. During the process students should be timely guided on their decisions: Why did I make this decision? Which part of me do I hope to show others?


Rosaryhill School (Secondary Section) 2016/17

Tam Pui Man

Wong Ka Yuk

Sahi Princess Stephanie

Liann Sin Yee

Mok Ning Fei

Chung Karen Barlolong Morta

Anjum Sarah

Palmes Ivy Jane Fabro

Safran Lance Angelo B.

Liang Laiane

Chan Po San, Jenny

Lo Hoi Ki

Student Feedback:

Part One:
“Cute is you find something adorable, and something different from us.”
“You’re beautiful in your own way. You think you see your face every day, so you think something makes you look different can make you become pretty.”
“What matters is your imagination that makes you look good.”
“I felt happy so I took this photo, it makes me pop up.”

Part Two:
“Women always love taking pictures without a reason.”
“Because I want to have a twin sister, so I have two “me” in the photograph.”
“I don’t know why, I don’t want my nose, I want smaller eyes……”
“If I don’t edit my selfie, I won’t post it online to let others see!”

Reference Materials:

Chinese reading:
Introductory reading for students that lists out key points in the Cuteness analysis. It takes a stance.

English Reading:
Provides multi-angles about Cuteness analysis. It is suitable for teacher and students interested in this topic.
The emerging field of cute studies can help us understand the dark side of adorableness》【Quartz Media】