Monday, December 17, 2007

Mobile Citizen Activism...How about student activism?

There has been some discussion in the local papers about mobile citizen journalism, where everyday people capture breaking news stories with their cell phones. While I think that students can definitely participate in their own citizen journalism around their community, I also think mobile phones provide a wonderful opportunity for student activism. One example of an activist movement is Friends of the Earth. Friends of the Earth ask citizens to video tape (they can use their mobile camcorders) a message about saving the environment in their local community. Students could not only participate in projects like this but they could also help to create mobile activist projects. They could use some of the free web2.0 mobile resources such as Eyespot (which can immediately post to any blog) and ask people to post mobile videos on different activist or social justice topics such as reasons why we should donate to a local homeless shelter or supporting universal health care reform. Another resource that I think might be helpful for activism is text messaging. Joe Wood, he has brought my attention to a new idea of using Twitter (a social networking text messaging tool) as a mobile learning tool. One idea that I thought of was to use Twitter as a tool for social activism. Some of the 2008 presidential candidates have a Twitter account, so citizens can follow their campaigns. One example is Barack Obama.
Students could create their own activist campaign on Twitter. For example, they could send out text alerts and messages about environmental issues, where others who are interested in the same topic could become part of their activist community. They could focus efforts on educating the public about their topic of interest. Another activism project is the People's 311, where New Yorkers can post mobile pictures of dangerous situations in New York City on a local map (such as a stop sign that has fallen down).

Students or teachers could do something similar in their own local community with mobile Flickr and posting to a private Flickr Map (under the You Tab--My Map at the top of any Flicker account). Teachers could create a community account in Flickr and give out to students the mobile image posting address.

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