Using texting for civics educationDocument Transcript
ciber Encourage Teen Civic Participation with Text Messaging http://www.npowercharlotteregion.org/About/News/ciberEncourageTeen... HOME SERVICES RESOURCES ABOUT SUPPORT CONTACT HELP SEARCH GenerationNation Taps into Texting Trend February 15, 2012 - According to most teens, phone calls and emails are out - and texting is in. Board Through a partnership with CIBER and NPower, GenerationNation (formerly Kids Voting Staff Mecklenburg) has tapped into this texting trend to engage Charlotte teens on government issues, policies and decisions that directly impact their lives. Supporters Tech Impact Stories GenerationNation is using texting – the technology that high school students use the most – to reach them during critical years when they encounter high school civics. By using a News communication medium students prefer, GenerationNation is laying the foundation for creating informed and engaged citizens. They are also encouraging students to take part in shaping their Jobs & Internships own communities by using text messaging to weigh in on civic issues. NPower TV As part of this text messaging pilot program, CIBER, a systems integration consultancy, worked closely with NPower and GenerationNation to select the most appropriate texting software and develop protocols for implementing the program. After launching the program, participating students attended a Mecklenburg County Commission meeting and texted their comments about issues being discussed. Topics covered in the meeting included funding allocation for Crisis Assistance Ministry and taking measures to prevent families from becoming homeless by providing funding for utility bills. After the meeting, students gathered in a classroom where they were able to see and discuss comments on these important issues from their peers in real time. According to Amy Farrell, GenerationNation executive director, “We found that students learned from reading others’ comments and often came away from the texting discussion with new insights. This type of civic education and collaboration among our students is exciting.” One Monday night a few weeks ago, 10th graders participating in the program attended a City Council meeting that included agenda items related to the Occupy Charlotte movement. They had the opportunity to listen and comment on 35 citizens who spoke about proposed city ordinances – some who had even been arrested as part of the movement. Texts were collected and then used for a student discussion afterwards. As one student points out, texting is much more reliable than writing comments on paper: “I’ll be the first to admit that it was difficult for students to keep up with paper surveys we filled out before at civic meetings. Texting our comments helps keep everything in one place and creates a more dynamic discussion after the meetings. “ “In some ways,” says Farrell, “the students texts drive discussion after attending meetings. Students are more engaged because we are discussing topics that they identified and found interesting. They experience civics in action, so they learn and understand more than just the facts about local government.” Most of the students participating in the pilot texting program are 10th graders who must complete specific civic courses in order to graduate from high school. GenerationNation offers programs that help students meet this academic requirement. Through its overall K-12 programs, GenerationNation increases civic literacy, improving overall understanding of government and the roles of citizens and leaders in our community. Students who know how our governments and communities work graduate and become effective citizens and leaders. “We have seen the impact text messaging programs can make for other nonprofit partners and are excited that GenerationNation is seeing similar results,” says Chris Duignan, a project manager with CIBER who is providing project strategy and oversight. “The texting pilot program had a direct, positive impact on the mission of GenerationNation and we are thrilled that they are involving more students through this type of communication.” Now that the initial pilot program is complete, GenerationNation is exploring additional ways to keep students engaged through texting. This will include assisting teachers who want to incorporate texting into their curriculum to engage students in civic learning. With the Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte, high school students will have even more opportunities to engage in civics via texting. The opportunities are endless.