Saturday, December 14, 2013

A World of Debates

Flickr photo courtesy of msnc
     Let me just say, first and foremost, that I love the concept of debate.  I was moderately engaged in the art Global Youth Debates .
in intermediate school and high school.  I see debate as one of those topics that almost naturally lends itself to technological enhancement and utilization of Web 2.0 tools.  I  was very excited to have the opportunity to judge the
     My excitement was maintained through the practice round, as I was able to use the Voicethread tool to listen to a set of opening statements, rebuttals, and closing statements in true debate fashion.  Voicethread is one of those Web 2.0 tools that allow the recording of voice with some graphical enhancements.  It is also wonderful, because if someone does not feel comfortable using speech, they can ultimately type out comments to be read on the the screen of a particular thread.  I was able to effectively judge the practice round, and I felt very content with knowing that students from across the world would be able to engage with one another in this collaborative venue before my very eyes and ears.
     For the actual first round, my expectations were not met.  I cannot phrase it in any other way.  For whatever reason, only one of the two teams provided any contribution for judging, and it was only an opening statement.  I found myself unable to provide any valuable feedback, as it had seemed that perhaps the participating entities just did not feel invested in the effort.  Sure, maybe there were other reasons as to why participation was so very limited, but there were clear deadlines - and there was no data provided as to why the debate was essentially not happening.  I ultimately provided my feedback after we were encouraged to write something for the purpose of adding points to the mix -- but the whole thing felt contrived.  In the end, I feel like, at this juncture, the debate (at least the one I was part of) was a bit of a failure as a project.
     As a silver lining, I feel as though this particular setup has some real possibilities.  We learn in Diverse Learners class and in the Gamification section of EIT that learning happens best when there is a desire to participate in a topic that interests the learner.  I truly do not feel as though the students involved truly had an interest.  I would like to see this model for learning again in the future, for I feel like it has some true potential.  If anything, I hope those involved in the current setup utilize this lack of participation as a learning moment.  The judging that I was able to do was very fulfilling, and I do hope that the data provided reached the students to encourage them to continue to develop both debate skills and lifelong learning.