Friday, January 22, 2010

AP Government CBL -- Student Solutions: Nings & Things

This is the 4th post in a series on my Apple Challenge Based Learning Project with AP American Government.

In my last post I described the cbl group in-class presentations. But I have held off on the best part-- their solutions to the challenge of "developing an authentic medium for improving our democracy."

One group chose a Ning as their primary platform. This was an interesting choice, because I am certain that none of the group members had any notion of what a Ning was at the beginning of the semester. The subject came up in September and no one in the class had heard of this versatile social media tool.

The group's Ning is called Gov Love, and as you will see when you visit, it serves as a hub for their central activity to improve our democracy-- gathering petition signatures to lower Michigan's voting age to sixteen. A link to their online petition is posted to the Ning. The Ning was serviceable in another way as well: They could easily hold forum discussions here and post notes/news updates about their subjects. In addition all group members could easily contribute to the Ning.

Group members drove traffic to the Ning through Facebook and word of mouth. By the time of their presentation they had managed 200 signatures on their petition. Granted, they really hustled for signatures simply for the purpose of show and tell in November. And their efforts have been at a stand still since they presented. ( As I indicated to them, the biggest weakness of their project was that it did not have "legs)". Nevertheless, there is no question that their medium was authentic. And from a majoritarian's point of view, extending suffrage is unquestionably a means for "improving our democracy." They managed to research some strong arguments for including some sixteen and seventeen year olds among the electorate. They also encouraged lively debate on this issue on Facebook and at their forum.

I was delighted and impressed with this particular solution.

Screen capture of the "Gov Love" Ning home page.

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