Wake Forest’s debate-related Internet projects draw thousands of participants

More than 3,400 young people nationwide are becoming more involved in the political process through Internet projects hosted by Wake Forest University. This fall, Wake Forest developed three online projects to increase youth interest in the presidential campaigns and debates. The university hosted the Oct. 11 debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore in campus landmark Wait Chapel.

The first project, “Linking Debatable Issues” has 2,200 Advanced Placement students at more than 70 high schools nationwide studying the presidential campaigns through the Internet. Wake Forest faculty members wrote the project’s curriculum to fit with the College Board’s guidelines for the AP program. Advanced Placement students earn college credit for taking high-level courses during their junior and senior years.

Participants in the “Linking Debatable Issues” project are taking online polls and contributing to discussion groups while studying campaign issues like foreign policy and education. Next week, the group will begin studying immigration, telecommunications regulation and U.S. trade and economic policy. The program ends on Nov. 7.

Through a partnership with Opinioneering Corp., Wake Forest’s second Internet project has thousands of young people visiting www.opinioneering.com/wfu. Since Sept. 18, more than 500 visitors have registered on the site to “meet” a panel of Wake Forest students who are developing and leading online discussions of election year issues.

Each member of the student panel has chosen their favorite campaign-year issues and posted related sets of questions on the site. Visitors are able to register their responses to the questions in an open-ended format designed to draw responses from other viewers. Participants are also able to read what others have posted and choose whether or not to vote in agreement with previous posts.

The student panel has sent the most popular questions posed by young participants to the Bush and Gore campaigns and hopes the questions will be answered on the campaign trail. This project will also end on Nov. 7.

The final project drew 660 youth ages 16 to 25 to www.speakout.com during the Oct. 11 debate. Participants watched the debate on television while using a simulated dial on the Web site to register their opinions of what each candidate said on a moment-by-moment basis. The youth survey was part of a larger, national survey that polled another 5,500 adults during the debate.

An analysis of this project is found at www.speakout.com/debates/wfu/results.asp.

Categories: Community, Events, University Announcement