For conveying information quickly we all rely on signs and symbols every day, whether it’s finding toilets, exits, stairs or lifts in unfamiliar public buildings, or signs on roads warning of dangers ahead. We’re used to seeing symbols which convey information such as laundry washing symbols, packaging symbols, or about recycling products. And it might be said that people find information shared in an infographic poster more visually engaging when text and graphics and combined. Images can be recognised quickly regardless of the first language of the reader ensuring that information can be conveyed concisely without high levels of reading skills in any particular language.
Signs and symbols have been used throughout history to convey information so they are not new. The symbols used in ancient civilisations through to the emoticons and emojis of today may be considered to be part of a continuum.
It’s been described as one of the fastest growing languages and many millions of messages are reported to be sent every day using only emojis. Tennis star Andy Murray tweeted about his wedding day solely using emojis!
So what is an Emoji?
Emojis are simply pictures you type on a device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or computer. Emojis are standardised characters available on different platforms whether running Apple, Android, or Windows operating systems, or different social media platforms (the artwork varies slightly between each but the meaning remains the same).
But I don’t know what each emoji means!!
We all grow up with signs and symbols but for many people there may be a worry that they don’t know what each emoji means – don’t panic, there’s an online encyclopedia/dictionary of emojis: https://emojipedia.org/. Simply type in a word to find the emoji you need.
There’s also a Frequently-Asked-Questions section which answers questions you might have about emojis.
Why might Emojis be used in Education?
Why I use Emoji in Research and Teaching – an article by Jennifer Fane setting out reasons why to consider using emojis in education to support inclusion, to aid communication, and to give voice to all learners.
How Emojis can Help Children Learn and Communicate – another article by Jennifer Fane describing how emojis can aid inclusion for children as well as support children’s learning in areas of health, well-being, safety and diversity.
Ideas and Resources for using Emojis in the Classroom
An Emoji Education – a blogpost by Tony Vincent in his excellent Learning in Hand blog which presents lots of tools and ideas for using emojis in the classroom complemented by visually engaging poster images. Whether it’s simply suggesting use of emojis instead of common bullet-points in reports or presentations for greater impact, or for learners summarizing texts using emojis to demonstrate understanding, or using emojis as prompts for story starts, as well as a range of tools which can aid the use of emojis on a variety of devices.
20+ Emoji Activities and Resources for Teaching Math, Science, and English – a very helpful blogpost by Shelly Terrell with a host of ideas for making use of emojis in education. The ideas can be adapted across many curricular areas. Shelley links to other useful resources and tools, as well as additional posts about how emojis can be used including her “Teaching the Emoji Generation” article which also links to many other articles, resources and tools.
15 Ways to Emoji-fy Your Teaching – a blogpost by teacher Stacy Zeiger with ideas for using emojis in the classroom for supporting reading and writing, for maths and science such as illustrating processes, and to support social and emotional learning to help break down communication barriers for some learners.
Using Emojis to Teach Critical Reading Skills – an article by Marissa King with suggestions for how emojis might be used in a classroom situation as one means of connecting learner experience outwith school to develop skills in other contexts in the classroom.