[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

The nation's first presidential primary is rapidly approaching here in the state of Iowa. I thought it might be appropriate to blog about new media and politics...

As a former Social Studies teacher, I've been intensely interested in how the presidential candidates (and their supporters) are using online video channels in this election season. Below are the top two most-viewed pro-candidate YouTube videos for each major contender (plus I included Ron Paul because he has such a strong Internet following). View counts are in parentheses after each video title. Although all of the videos listed are positive depictions, they may or may not be 'official' videos from candidates' campaign teams. If you watch these, you will see that there are major differences regarding style, depth, and substance of message. It's very clear that most political candidates haven't yet figured out how to use this medium to great effect. Compared to television and print advertising, online videos are awfully inexpensive and have few length/time restrictions. Why not make the most of it?

There are a wealth of possibilities here for Social Studies and other teachers. We have unprecedented opportunities to engage in critical analysis of political messages, oppositional videos, media manipulation, etc. Students can discuss what makes an effective political video message (pro or con) and can even make their own (with the concurrent chance to reach and converse with a potentially large audience, which would be its own learning opportunity). I wonder how many teachers and administrators are really taking advantage of this stuff...

Hillary Clinton

1. Join the Hillary Clinton 2008 Myspace (1,186,489)
2. I need your advice (638,232)

John Edwards

1. What are you going to do to bring about change? (375,214)
2. We the people (192,040)

Rudy Giuliani

1. Obama Girl v. Giuliani Girl (1,661,241)
2. Rudy on his 12 commitments (361,158)

Mike Huckabee

1. Mike Huckabee responds to evolution question (1,816,458)
2. HuckChuckFacts (1,264,535)

Barack Obama

1. I got a crush ... on Obama (4,407,776)
2. Vote different (4,110,758)

Ron Paul

1. Ron Paul ad – awesome! (1,960,265)
2. Stop dreaming (1,141,756)

Mitt Romney

1.America's single greatest challenge? (470,279)
2. Interview with Jan Mickelsen (204,938)

Notes

I selected the candidates by using results from the latest CNN poll. Videos were obtained by going to YouTube, searching on a candidate's name, and then sorting by View Count, All Time. View counts were current as of December 31, 2007.