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Online Community, Culture, and Citizenship

Online Community, Culture, and Citizenship Activity: E-Organizing for A Better World: Internet Activism

Instructions for Your Students

So far the Internet seems like a pretty chill place, no? Especially now that you know how to ward off the creepers and malware. You can play games, Facebook with friends worlds away or down the street, and look up whatever info you're jonesing for. What you might not know, though, is that the World Wide Web can also be a powerful tool for change.

Using the Internet...

  • bloggers in war-torn countries keep a news pipeline going when there is no other
  • students organize over Twitter
  • radio sites play banned music online in dictatorships
  • politicians try to get your vote

Regardless of the cause, the Internet can help people organize. 

Now it's your turn to figure out how you can use the Internet to organize and mobilize, and consider what causes matter enough for YOU (yes, we want you!) to get involved.

Step 1: Start by taking a look at the World Food Programme's About Freerice page. Read the brief description of Freerice and then watch the Freerice video with your class. After the video, discuss the following questions with your teacher and classmates:

  1. Why was the Freerice game developed? 
  2. What's so cool and new (a.k.a. innovative) about the game?
  3. Ten grains of rice might not sound like much, but how many people have the Freerice players been able to feed? 
  4. What are some countries (name at least one) where free rice rice has been donated?
  5. Does Freerice sound like a game you would play? Why or why not?

Step 2: You don't have to wonder if you would like the game—you can play it! Open the link for the Freerice game and give it a try.  

Step 3: Once you've had a chance to play, chat about it with your class. Here are some questions to discuss:

  1. How many grains of rice did you donate?
  2. How many grains of rice were donated yesterday? (This answer is just below the multiple choice question.)
  3. Did you like the game? Did knowing that the game helps feed hungry people around the world make you more interested in playing?
  4. Do you think you'll come back and play Freerice again? Would you tell your friends and family about this website?

Step 4: The Freerice game website focuses on trying to end world hunger, but this might not be a topic that you're really passionate about. So... what are you passionate about? 

Do a little independent research online and brainstorm a list of 5 causes that you think are important to organize around. 

To make this step a little easier, we've collected a few sites you can use for your research. Each of them is full of causes for you to contemplate. Look around and choose your favorites.

  • Battlefront: Campaigners on a Mission: A famous TV project that follows a group of young campaigners trying to—you guessed it—change the world. 
  • Conservation International: A global group that focuses on "protecting nature for the benefit of everyone on Earth."  
  • AVAAZ: This website follows activists' campaigns happening all around the world. 

Step 5: After you identify your short list of causes, you can share their ideas with others in the class to see if there's anyone with similar interests that you might want to team up with. If you find one or two others you'd like to work with, go ahead and organize yourselves into group. Of course, you can also work alone if you prefer.

In your cause group (or individually, as the case may be), select one or two specific causes from your list(s) and do some online research to find out how you could get involved. Some helpful Google search phrases include:

  • "blogging for [insert cause name here]"
  • "[insert cause name here]: how to get involved online"

Step 6: After you've done your research (with your group or on your own), make a list steps you could take to get involved in your chosen cause. Aim for at least 5 different things you could do with brief explanations. 

For example, if you list "make a donation" as one way you could get involved in your cause, explain exactly where and how you would donate the money, how much you'd try to donate, and how the money would help. Some organizations will tell you exactly what $50 would allow them to do, such as feed and house a shelter animal for a month, or provide a family with a goat or chickens. 

Be as specific as possible with your list, and make sure it's in final copy format so you can turn it in.

Step 7 (Optional): You may just turn in your list and be done, but if your teacher decides you have enough class time, you may be able to take things one step further. You could complete one or more of the steps you identified and write a brief reflection about the process. 

If you do, you can use the following questions to guide your reflection:

  1. What action did you decide to take and why?
  2. How successful were you?
  3. Do you think your work has made a difference?
  4. How likely are you to continue working for this cause or to choose another cause and take more action? Explain why you think you will (or won't) continue with your Internet activism.