Online town halls connect digital learners with U.S. Presidents

If you could ask a President of the United States one question, what would it be?

Online town halls connect digital learners with U.S. PresidentsIn July 2011, President Barack Obama made history when he became the first U.S. President to host a virtual “town hall” meeting via social media. Obama’s Twitter account received 169,395 #AskObama tweets, and a Twitter search algorithms revealed that the most popular hot topics of the night were jobs (23%), budget (18%), taxes (18%), and education (11%).

The tech-savvy President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama each continue to have more than a million followers, demonstrating how the online social networking service can be a window into the daily operations of the most powerful office in America.

The great things for educators and students is that online Town Halls make students feel they’re taking part of current political events; they close the distance between them and both world leaders and political pundits. Using online tools and social media for the conversation provides an immediacy and relevance for learners that can’t be captured by reading a traditional textbook or news story.

Next Thursday, October 16 at 7:00PM EST, the 2014 CHINA Town Hall will feature a live webcast with the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, who will spend 30 minutes be taking questions via email on issues related to China’s rapid development and Sino-American relations. What lies behind China’s continued ascendancy on the world stage? What does the #umbrellarevolution mean for democracy in Asia?

Given former-President Carter’s administration’s significant foreign policy achievements in the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with China, this presents an unparalleled opportunity for educators and students to take part in an active dialogue on world politics with one of the most foremost diplomats of the 20th century.

Learners have a number of different opportunities for making the most of this event:

Additionally, local Vermont educators and students are invited to attend and participate in a pre-Town Hall lecture on global politics by UVM-based scholar Jeanne Shea, who will put some context around former President Carter’s legacy and the current geopolitical climate. The event kicks off with light refreshments at 6pm at the Fleming Museum Room 101 on the UVM campus in Burlington.

For history and political science educators, what do these ground-breaking virtual town hall meetings mean for the way you teach students?

For more information on next Thursday’s reception, visit


3 thoughts on “Online town halls connect digital learners with U.S. Presidents”

What do you think?