Nate Bigelow

Project Proposal

My Campaigns & Elections class (sometimes CI); in addition to examining standard topics like democratic theory, suffrage, campaign effects and voting behavior; involves the class separating into campaign teams, developing simulated campaign plans, and executing them in front of introductory classes. The simulation makes up more than 50 percent of the course and necessitates the use of digital technology. Students develop websites; do analysis of polling – using SPSS and other statistical software; use electronic communication – email, website, text, twitter to raise fake money and persuade; and produce TV commercials. I believe these technological elements could be done better.

In the next iteration of this simulation, I want the teams to develop e-portfolios. I imagine the following components (BOLD indicates technology component):

  • A very carefully constructed campaign plan (using PowerPoint or a similar program)
  • An elegant presentation of data related to the fake district in which they are running (using SPSS and Excel)
  • Issue position statements tied to polling (hopefully related to information learned in other classes)
  • Various plans to appeal for money (email and social media fundraising communications as well as direct mail and event forms)
  • A collection of carefully produced campaign ads (using appropriate video editing software)

As these portfolios develop, the entire class will be able to critique their content/style and contribute to overall improvement. The hope is to have high quality campaign portfolios by the end of the semester.

Course elements unrelated to digital pedagogy, but important to the simulation:

  • Be interdisciplinary by having issue position statements come from material learned in other classes (foreign policy, environmental policy, etc.)
  • Be interdisciplinary by devoting course time to joining David Griffith’s Marketing class and exploring similarities and differences between promoting candidates and products.

If I receive this stipend, I would devote significant time to:

  • Researching various forms that an e-portfolio might take – whether that is a website design or something else. Spending time learning how to create, and instruct others to create, such a thing.
  • Researching communication techniques (specifically persuasion/mobilization and fundraising) through social media like Twitter and Facebook
  • Most significantly, learning basic video editing techniques involved in creating 30 second campaign ads. It has always impressed me how well students do this without instruction. I would like to be able to help them make more professional ads.

The learning outcomes for the simulation part of the course are:

  • Learn how modern campaigns operate
  • Learn to use various technologies in the production of a multimedia rich portfolio
  • Through revision, stemming from group critique, produce a better product
  • Through learning how campaigns operate, become more thoughtful citizens

Assessing the outcomes:

  • I have a collection of material from older versions of the class that I can compare to the Mellon supported student work. I would expect measureable improvement.

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