Prejudice and the internet

Prejudice is a very popular topic in the news and on the internet.  The negative and hostile feelings toward people of the Muslim religion, the hatefulness people are expressing about police officers, the negativity towards the Syrian refugees, and even the frustration people express over the reactions and prejudices being expressed are prominent in social and broadcast media.  People are using social media to either support their stereotypes and discrimination, or to attempt to disprove those who hold those prejudices.  Unfortunately, those who are attempting to disprove are often doing so by showing articles, numbers, images, or videos that also have a bias, just an opposing one.  It seems that most of the media “chooses sides” in either supporting the stereotypes and encouraging the negative behavior and feelings toward the groups or attempting to portray the group in only positives and vilify those who have those stereotypes.  It has become a vicious cycle of blame and hatred.


I have recently become enthralled with the jigsaw classroom. The jigsaw classroom struck a chord for me because I am a teacher who works in a very diverse school.  Our school has a policy of using cooperative learning structures.  These structures create the jigsaw classroom environment. For more information on the jigsaw classroom, you can go to: So, the next question would be as to whether or not something similar to the jigsaw classroom could be implemented using the internet.  The difficult situation arises when attempting to use the internet to create mutual interdependence.  Unfortunately, the internet allows a lot of independence and lack of accountability towards fellow members of various groups.  The other situation arises when creating a common goal.  There is often equal status online, so that would not be a difficult achievement, although some like to try and create a status like being a moderator or leader.


As the world continues to turn more toward technology, so have the educational systems.  Although many people take online courses, they aren’t forced to interact much with others within the classes they take.  By creating 2-3 jigsaw type assignments throughout the class, with the last possibly requiring the use of a Blackboard collaborative learning application in which they use video, this may help to create opportunities for people to overcome prejudices.  It would have to be done for every class in order to create multiple opportunities to interact with people.  In an effort to prevent stereotypes based on names, the group member would need to be assigned anonymous tags.  The all interactions prior to the video conference should be geared to create communication, a common goal, equal status, and mutual interdependence.  By preventing personal information to be shared and only the quality of work presented by each person, it will allow each person to develop opinions about each person based on their ability as a person and not a social, religious, or other group.  By requiring this in all classes, this would create repeated exposure to prevent people from being considered to be “exceptions” to the rule.

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  1. Erica Michele Skinner

    It certainly seems that prejudice is seeping into all aspects of our lives, simply by being connected with each other on social media. We learn things, some good and some bad, about our friends and acquaintances that we otherwise wouldn’t discuss face to face. Especially now during the presidential election primaries, I have been exposed to the political preferences of friends that are causing me reconsider my friendships. I feel that our best chances for turning around prejudice and hate is to start with the younger generation, and your suggestion for a jigsaw classroom is a great start.

    I learned about jigsaw classrooms in a social psychology class from a couple years ago, and I remember how impressed I was at the potential for instilling global tolerance in children. This Global Classroom Project idea was started by teachers at the elementary school level who use Skype as a tool to visibly and audibly connect the children to each other in a global, collaborative environment (The Global Classroom Project, 2015). I think this is building on the “Ben Franklin Effect”, which stems from an idea from Benjamin Franklin that claims to establish a positive relationship with someone, get that person to do you a favor. Basically, working collaboratively with people from all walks of life opens the doors to build trust and appreciation for others.
    I’m not sure this is an immediate solution for the rampant hate and disrespect being spread by the technology that we now have at our fingertips, but this is an excellent step in the right direction.

    The Global Classroom Project. (2015). Retrieved from

  2. Walter F Cavalier

    I concur, there is a higher degree of unhappiness on display in society since the 44th president was elected. Since then, many people “want their country back” including the Mexican’s and the Native Americans. The level “hatefulness” exhibited toward police is matched by the victimhood the police express when questioned about their actions. It seems everyone is a victim these days, police officers, black lives matters, affluenza sufferers, and anybody Gloria Allred spends time with. The anonymity allowed by the internet encourages a lot of questionable free speech. I have ceased reading the comments section of any article. No matter what the topic is about, within a couple of entries it conflates into gender or racial discourse. The television media does its part to champion misinformation and discourse. A recent study found “African-Americans were overrepresented as perpetrators, and Latinos and whites were underrepresented as perpetrators” (Dixon 2015). The media propagates many messages that are harmful to a lot of people and causes.
    I came across the Jigsaw Classroom several years back and was impressed with the concept. It seems like practical solution that would alleviate more tension than just racial. The concept should be utilized throughout a child’s academia career so when they reach college level of education they have already been influenced by the ability of their peers they have worked with since grade school.

    Dixon, Travis L. “Good Guys Are Still Always in White? Positive Change and Continued Misrepresentation of Race and Crime on Local Television News,” Communications Research, April 2015, pp. 1-18.

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