Today is a big day in the United States with the inauguration of Barack Obama. No matter what political affiliation one holds, I think it’s hard to ignore the impact that web 2.0 is having on the day, and in particular on the possibilities for teens to learn abut the political process, the presidency, citizenship, and more.’  For example:

  • Worcester Academy @ the Inauguration is the blog home of students at Worcester Academy, in MA, who are blogging, tweeting, youtubing, flickring, and more as a part of their inaugural learning. The students traveled to DC from their hometown and are telling others about their experiences while away from home. What a great experience for these students who get to actually create primary source content using web 2.0 tools.’  These MA students aren’t the only ones who get to have this experience, students from Chicago are also on the scene and recording their thoughts.
  • The other day the New York Times posted Inaugural Words: 1789 to the present. This content focuses on using word clouds – for each of the inaugural speeches from George Washington to George W. Bush’s second inaugural address – to demonstrate the focus of the speeches and how words were used over time.’  Along with viewing the word clouds, it’s possible to view the words in context, read the entire speech, and read what the New York Times had to say about the speech.’  What a great tool this could be for teens to use to analyze language and the history of the U.S. (along with the history of the U.S. presidency).
  • It’s also expected that today cellphone network infrastructure will be seriously tested as Inaugural viewers – in DC and across the globe’  – use their phones to instantly post photos on Flickr, live blog, tweet feelings and thoughts, and so on.’  While it won’t be a good thing if the cellphone networks “explode” during the day, the ability for teens to participate in this live event in this way is exciting.’  Imagine if teens could text message friends and family from school while they are each watching the inauguration from a different location. Wouldn’t that be a great way to connect and express ideas while in disparate places?
  • Voice Thread is gathering inauguration day Threads with the tag “inauguration 09.”‘  As the Voice Thread web site states, “The goal of the Inauguration Day Voices project is to capture the voices of individuals exploring and expressing their own perspectives on this historic event.”‘  Teens could create their own Voice Threads with Creative Commons images they gather from Flickr and other sites. Or, they could add their voices to the Threads others create. Either way, this is an interesting way to generate conversation about the inauguration and all that goes along with it.
  • Libraries, Starbucks, movie theaters, schools, and others across the country are planning on streaming the inauguration ceremony live on big screens and small screens.’ ‘  Teens can watch on Hulu, the same place they might already be watching some of their favorite TV shows, and add to discussions taking place about the inauguration and the presidency.

These are just a few of the web 2.0 ways that teens can take part in the inauguration. A school or library that doesn’t provide access to 2.0 tools ends up severly limiting how teens can take part in, and learn about, this historic event.

Even if teens don’t participate today in real-time, they can still use these tools to read about and converse with others about the event.’  This web 2.0 inauguration is an exciting thing to be a part of.’  How are the teens with which you work getting involved?

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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