As the use of the Internet and other electronic mediums have become more widespread, political candidates have begun using Web sites, e-mail, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of electronic media to convey their campaign messages to an even broader sector of the population in an effort to win the presidency in 2012. This lesson will focus on the use of technology in the political and campaign process and examine how this new medium might impact the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.
1. Before class begins, place a piece of scrap paper or index card on each student's desk. Post two signs on opposite sides of the classroom. One should say "Agree", the other "Disagree". Post a large sheet of chart paper on the agree and disagree walls along with a marker. Write the following statement on the board or overhead.
"Technology such as the Internet plays an important role in the political process and a candidate's ability to connect with voters on a personal level, increasing the candidate's chance of getting elected."
2. Read the statement out loud for the class. Tell students to think about the statement carefully and decide whether they agree or disagree with it. Give students 20-30 seconds to decide how they feel, then direct them to write the word "agree" or "disagree" on their scrap paper/index card.
3. Have all students who wrote "agree" on their paper/card meet under the "Agree" sign. Those who wrote "disagree" should gather under the "Disagree" sign.
4. Instruct each group to take 2-3 minutes to brainstorm a list of reasons why they either agreed or disagreed with the statement. These should be recorded on the large piece of chart paper. At the end of brainstorming, both sheets of paper should be brought to the front of the classroom as posted. Be sure to label each accordingly as "agree" or "disagree" for clarity.
5. Facilitate a class discussion related to the statement about technology using the brainstormed ideas. Call on volunteers to explain the ideas presented by the two different groups, encouraging students to provide specific reasons, facts, and examples to illustrate their point of view.
6. Distribute and/or share the NewsHour post by Judy Woodruff "Did the Internet Kill the Face-to-Face Campaign?"
Discuss the article using questions such as:
- Why is the Internet going to be an important tool for the 2012 campaign?
- Describe the segment of the population being targeted by Internet campaigning.
- Where do you think young voters (age 18-25) fit in to the Internet campaigning strategies?
- What role will the Internet play in fundraising for candidates, and why is this important to the candidates?
- Do you think interactive campaign tactics such as blogging by the candidates and live chat sessions with candidates will be effective campaign tools? Why or why not?
- As a voter, would you read candidate blogs or participate in live candidate chats? Why or why not?
- Do you think the Internet and the types of campaign options it offers will add a higher level of accountability for candidates to deliver on their promises? Why or why not?
7. Have students access various candidate websites such as:
President Barack Obama at http://www.barackobama.com/
Mitt Romney at http://www.mittromney.com/
Or any other candidate of your choice. Distribute the Role of Technology in the Election Process worksheet and have students use the questions on the guide to see how the candidate is using the Internet as part of the campaign process.
8. After students have completed the Role of Technology in the Election Process worksheet, take a few minutes to discuss student answers to the various questions.
9. Start a classroom bulletin board related to the role of technology in the election process. Have students bring in copies of nontraditional campaigning including emails, blogs, summaries of podcasts, etc. along with newspaper or magazine articles that address the use of technology on the campaign trail. Offer students extra credit for bringing in and sharing these examples of nontraditional campaigning. Post on the bulletin board and revisit the initial discussion questions from step 6 periodically throughout the election to analyze the impact of technology as a campaign tool.
1. Have students create their own blogs, podcasts, or websites related to their favorite 2012 presidential candidate. Allow students time to share this information with classmates monthly or quarterly as part of an ongoing discussion of the candidates and campaign issues.
2. Work as a class to create a set of survey questions related to the use of technology-based campaign tools. Assign each student to survey 20 people in a variety of age groups using the questions created by the class. Have each student tabulate and graph the responses s/he had to the survey questions, and draw conclusions about how the use of technology as a campaign tool is impacting various groups of voters as they decide who to elect for the next president.