Social media has been rapidly overtaking the world by storm for years, and ISU’s American Democracy Project has been closely following the trend.
The Democracy Project recently created “ILSTU Views,” which is described as being an advanced social media device that gives students a safe place to debate with one another on several social and political topics.
“ILSTU Views encourages students, faculty, staff and community members to engage with issues that they might otherwise not think about,” Catherine Poffenbarger, coordinator of academic services, Office of the Provost, said.
This “digital soapbox” provides students with a place to find their own voices over several different areas. ILSTU Views, which promotes civil discussion between all debaters, operates through interactive kiosks, a website and texting. Students can use any of these mediums to voice their thoughts, opinions and beliefs on a given subject. The organization tackles the issues Americans are talking about.
The kiosks allow students, teachers and residents to share their ideas or join ongoing debates through touchscreen displays. Fell Hall installed the first kiosk in its lobby, and more kiosks will be built throughout campus in coming years.
Knowing how quickly technology is expanding and how important social media is in everyday life, the project has also developed a way for users to connect by SMS. Users are alerted when someone new has joined their current discussion, and can keep participating in the conversation by texting the Views.
The Views website allows non-members to see what users are talking about, and gives them the option of signing up for the debates online. The popularity of each post is measured through how many “likes” users have given it. Those interested in being new members can create their account on the Views website. This is the easiest way for debaters to keep track of both current and past dialogues.
The website is consistently updated with new content and questions for debaters to share their thoughts on.
Any user of the Views can suggest a question that could be put up for discussion.
Discussions are focused on local, national and international issues and questions.
Past debates weighed in on include questions such as “Should marijuana be legalized for recreational use?,” “Should it be easier to become a U.S. citizen?,” and “Should the Electoral College be replaced with the popular vote?” These kinds of questions can attract all different kinds of students who are willing to share their opinions as well as learn from those who may think differently than they do. The goal of the organization is to foster more discussion at ISU.
Current debates and debate statistics can be found on the website’s homepage. Views can be “liked” on Facebook and users can use their Twitter accounts to tweet links to the website.
“Participating in campus-wide debates about key social and political issues can help students become exposed to a variety of different viewpoints and perspectives,” Noha Shawki, associate professor of the Department of Politics and Government, said. She also added that this can also help them become more informed and engaged citizens.
The Views offers a great opportunity for students and staff alike to learn more about themselves and their own beliefs, as well as keeping an open mind and conversing with others about their thoughts and ideas.
To join or to find out more information, check out IlstuViews.IllinoisState.edu.