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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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Ten Questions for Presidential Candidates, Including One of Yours?

Move over YouTube debates, now for something meatier! A coalition of blogs and news organizations is using Web 2.0 tools to create another exciting experiment in interactive presidential debates. It might even be a chance for your students to pose the perfect question to them.

This week, techpresident.com teamed up with the New York Times, MSNBC and a whole slew of blogs to launch 10Questions.com, an online presidential debate that’s a fascinating mix of video blogging, tagging and user-generated content. Joanne Colan, My colleague at the video blog Rocketboom put together this video to explain how it works:

For those of you working at schools or libraries where YouTube is blocked, don’t worry - I’ll give you the basics. From now until November 14, the public will be invited to record videos of themselves posing a question to all the presidential candidates. After shooting the video, they upload it to one of the major online video services, including YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo Video and Blip.tv. It doesn’t matter which one of these services you choose, as long as you remember to tag the video 10questions. Including this tag will allow the debate organizers to aggregate all the questions being proposed for the debate and include them on the debate website.

Once the video is posted to the website, the public is invited to pick their favorites. Each video features a thumbs up/thumbs down option, which you can use to voice your approval or disapproval of the question. This generates a numerical score for the video to show how popular it is among participants. The site also lets you embed the videos on your blog or website, in case you’d like to get more people to support your question. For example, here’s a question about political transparency submitted today by blogger Ruby Sinreich:

On November 17, the organizers of 10Questions.com will announce the 10 most popular questions as determined by the public. These questions will then be presented to all of the presidential campaigns, giving them until the end of the year to answer the questions in the form of online videos of their own. As candidates post their answers, the public will be invited once again to vote up or down as to whether they feel the answer was satisfactory, allowing the site to rank the most popular answers.

Unlike the YouTube debates, in which the questions asked during the debate were determined entirely by moderator Anderson Cooper, 10Questions will be based on popularity ranking as determined by the public. So in theory, a really good question asked by any of us - including a student - could rise through the ranks and be used in the actual debate. What are the chances of this happening? Given how well organized the political blogosphere is, it’s a tough proposition. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it a try, as a way of involving students in the political process. I could easily imagine a teacher challenging their students to review some of the proposed questions, examining what makes a good question and the right way to pose it, then upload questions of their own. Who knows - maybe one of those questions might even rise to being a defining moment of the debate. But we won’t know if we don’t try. Anyone game? -andy

Filed under : Cool Tools, Events, Policy, Video, Websites


I think that this is a very good idea. I think it will help get our questions out there that we feel dont get answered or even asked. I also think this will help the people who cant vote take part in whats going on with our country and get them more interested as they grow up.

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