Thursday, November 3, 2011

skype debating

Ariel and Lydia with over 1000 pages of evidence and briefs they are trying to sort and file!
 This year debate has been quite different for Ariel.  First of all her brother Logan who was majorly into debating has graduated and left quite a hole.  We did grow tired of all the discussing and "arguing" he liked to do but now without him being familiar with the issues and cases Ariel is on her own here.  It's been a very different year for debate.

Last year we went from a team of 14, with 8 of those kids doing Team Policy debating down to 2 kids this year with only Ariel and her partner Lydia doing Team Policy.  Lexie is technically on the team (so really we have 3) but only for speech this year.

To save us time, money and give Ariel and Lydia more experience we are trying skype debating this year.  Basically they do the debate "just like" they would only over skype.  Both the girls sit at our computers with headphones and speakers and give their speeches, rebuttals etc... all over the computer.  It's saving us from driving all over the place to practice debates while still giving them practice with other teams.

After their first debate last week though we have noticed a few minor "issues" with skype debating.

1. Equipment-We thought we had skype working on both computers and 10 minutes before we were to begin for some unknown reason skype wouldn't load on my laptop.  Taylor came to the rescue with his I-pad and reluctantly let us use it so it worked out and we started only a few minutes late.  Also, for some reason one of the computers/headsets had trouble hearing one of the other users we had connected.  They had to keep asking them to speak up but on our other headset it was fine.

So, the lesson here...just expect some technical difficulties.  It's impossible to predict what or when but they probably will happen!

2. Inhibited information sharing- At a regular debate you always ask for the 1AC which is your opponents first speech if you are the negative team and it's customary to hand it to the other team for viewing at the debate.  Ariel and Lydia didn't ask for this as you can't really hand it over and no one wants to email their case so they tried to move on with out it.  It was difficult.  The organizers of the skype debates I think have realised this and now made a rule that you have to email your 1AC ahead and then the receiver is supposed to delete the file after the debate round is finished.  This will help tremendously.

Besides the 1AC, often in cross examination they will ask to see evidence that was presented and often keep it until the next cross ex when the other team asks for it back.  This again is not really possible so they will have to take the time to have it re-read in cross ex using up valuable time.

So here the lesson has got to be in learning to adapt and making the best of the situation.  Maybe it will help the girls improve their listening and note taking skills knowing that they can't really ask to "see" it in writing.

3. Non verbals are missed-Both girls commented how it was more difficult not "seeing" the other team.  They said in regular (non-skype) rounds you can sometimes tell what the other speaker meant or where they were going or how they were responding by actually "seeing" what they were doing or their other non-verbal actions.

Again, they are going to have to improve their listening skills!

They are preparing for the second round this week as the affirmative team.  It will be the first run of their case against anyone other than against their coach! 

In the end I think it will be well worth it and I do think Ariel feels very techie sitting there adding people to the call with her headset on!

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