Within nine minutes, there were more than 600 posts from B. Michael Caudill students and faculty in an online group Tuesday night to discuss the presidential debate, said principal Ken Bicknell. Students were able to share their thoughts on the debate and receive live feedback from their peers in real-time.
Schools district-wide use an online community called Edmodo, which provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, similar to Facebook, said Wendee Clark, a sixth grade social studies teacher.
Clark and Bicknell set up the group Tuesday morning and within hours after the announcement, around 200 people had joined, the principal said.
“What I noticed on Edmodo was how informed our students are. Probably more informed than many of adults are about the issues. I'm very proud of them,” Bicknell said.
More people are still joining and posting in the group, he said.
Bicknell could tell that families were watching the debate together because “the posts became more involved,” he said. “With families involved in an activity like this, our kids are more informed.”
Sixth-graders started their unit on the election just recently, but the online group spread the election discussion to the whole school, and now the idea has spread across the district, Bicknell said.
In Clark's class, students chose their presidential candidate and the two teams engaged in a debate over issues like welfare, gas prices and the economy, she said.
On Nov. 5, the school will participate in their own mock election and the votes will be tallied online.
The following are comments from seven Caudill sixth-graders, all 11 years old, about what they learned from the presidential debate and how interacting with their peers on Edmodo furthered their understanding of the election process.
“I learned about the whole process of the debate and how much time they have to answer questions,” Hannah said.
“I thought it was funny sometimes, but it was kind of rude too,” she said about the presidential candidates interrupting one another during the debate.
Edmodo was an opportunity for her to learn some things about the candidates that she never knew before, Hannah said.
“ I didn't know that Romney wasn't going to give licenses to illegal immigrants and that kind of shocked me a little. I don't know why, it just did. Also, I didn't know what Obamacare was, but my mom explained it to me and now I realize why Obama is concerned with it that much,” Lexci said.
Many older students and teachers made comments on some of the posts, which helped her understand the issues better, she said.
“ There was one kid who kept posting on there, his name is Alex, he posted on everyone's comments and it made it a lot easier for some of us to understand it. That was a lot of help,” she said.
“From Edmodo, I could tell that there were a lot of strong posts that kids can make. They've got a lot of questions going back and forth and it's really good feedback,” Kaitlyn said.
Some of the most important issues during the debate were abortion, taxes and oil, she said. “And that's pretty much some of the top things they were talking about on Edmodo.”
Kaitlyn is working on an essay for one of her classes about how students should “debate back and forth like we talk about it on Edmodo,” she said, so students are having the same conversations face-to-face.
“It was a really good site to be on and the feedback was good,” she said. “Go Romney!”
“I notice that there was lying going on with Mitt Romney, as in, he was thinking about having an $8 trillion dollar tax cut and giving that money to the Army, which they don't even need. He mentioned that he would take oil from Canada. I didn't think he would do that. He would start drilling what he can find in Canada and Mexico.”
Taxes and education are some of the most important issues in America, he said.
“Romney's plan is to cut taxes for millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires and not middle-class and third-class. Obama is going to cut middle-class taxes. I agree with Obama.”
Joshua said Edmodo was a “ great way to interact with people and talk about it.”
Taijia also believed some of the top issues of the debate focused on education, taxes and oil.
She followed the posts on Edmodo Tuesday night and thought that they helped her better understand the issues of the election.
“Some of the stuff I didn't know before, people would post about it on Edmodo,” Taijia said.
“I learned a lot about how concerned a lot of people were and how they thought about it. Watching the debate I really thought about the questions all the undecided voters had and how that would affect me.”
The debate on education would affect her the most, she said, as well as issues concerning taxes.
“It may not affect me now, but it may affect me in the future somehow,” Gillian said.
She learned a lot from interacting with her peers online because some of the older students were able to explain some of the issues she didn't understand, she said, and interacting in the group was “a lot more fun than doing everything in the classroom.”
“It's everything other people thought and I started thinking about the things that they were thinking about and it made me rethink what I was thinking,” she said.
“I learned how people can react to how some of the questions are answered by the candidates, like if they're really bad or really good. It was really cool to see each candidate go at it. This election makes you stand up, on the edge of your seat. Is Obama going to win? Is Romney going to win? And if Romney is elected, how is it going to change America?”
Christopher said some of the top election issues were oil, taxes and education.
“If you post something, it's really cool to see how other people will react to the other team. Good luck to Mitt Romney,” he said.