Students Use Social Media to Cover the Inauguration
A group of students from Massachusetts will make the journey to DC to take part in President-elect Obama’s inauguration ceremony. And they’ll be more than mere spectators, as they’re going to use Web 2.0 tools to teach students back home about the experience.
With possibly millions of people descending on DC this weekend, it’s no surprise that some teachers will be bringing groups of students to participate in the inauguration. But when I heard about WAinauguration.org, I was amazed at how some of them would be using social media tools to document it. David Bill, director of academic technology at the Worcester Academy, is leading a group of middle school students to DC and arming them with the tools and skills to serve as citizen journalists.
“My co-organizer, Pete Smith, and I initially just saw the trip as simply an opportunity for our students to experience this historic event first hand,” Bill told me. “But because of our technology background, we soon realized that with the use of social media, the trip could be about so much more.”
Not surprisingly, a number of students were interested in attending, so Bill and Smith set up an application process that utilized social media as part of the screening. Students had to submit a brief YouTube video discussing social media and the election, as well as write three short responses on the topic. They even used Google Docs as the application form. In the end, they picked 11 students who would make the journey to DC.
While attending the inauguration, students will be expected to create content addressing five topics:
- Why are you attending the Inauguration?
- What is the historical significance of the election of Barack Obama and how will his election change the viability of a minority being elected in other countries?
- How did social media influence the election?
- Regarding the current world view of the United States, what changes does Obama need to implement to rebuild this nation and why?
- Considering the goals he has set, what will America be like under the Obama administration?
“Social media will play a large role in this trip,” Bill continued. “Each after being broken up into groups for each theme, the students will report on their chosen theme using Flip cameras and iTalks (iPod recorders). Their interviews will be posted via YouTube and Podcast and embedded in our blog. The students will be taking pictures on their cell phones and uploading them to Flickr as well as Twittering during the entire trip. We will be using Skype to report back to Worcester Academy as well as anyone else who wants to connect with our group.”
All of this, no doubt, will be a lot for them to juggle - even I’m wondering how I personally am going to manage creating content from the middle of the National Mall that morning - but Bill says the effort will be well worth it.
“Our goal for this trip is to provide an learning opportunity that extends beyond the classroom,” he continued. “As technology administrators, we also saw the trip as an opportunity to highlight the role that social media can play in equalizing the production of quality content. We wanted our students to understand how the technologies they may take for granted can add a different perspective to the conversation.”
Meanwhile, there are many other ways for the rest of you and your students to get involved in the inauguration. PBS Newshour has created a student voice project in which students are invited to record podcasts about the inauguration. And over at NPR, I’m running a project called Inauguration Report, in conjunction with CBS News and American University. As we did on election day, we’re inviting the public - students and teachers included - to upload original content via text messaging, tweets, Flickr, Youtube and even an iPhone app, which we’ll then plot on a map and stream on our site. I’ll be a great way to get a sense of what everyone is doing as our new president takes the oath of office. -andy
Filed under : Youth Media