Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tech Celebration: The 1,700 Mile Debate

Sometimes you have to travel pretty far to find worthy competition. 

CFHS debaters Sarah, Abraham, and Vincent (rear, acting as judge) introduce themselves to their dread enemies.​

To combat a worthy foe, Taylor Johnson took our ​debate ​students thousands of miles to Canada - they traveled 1700 miles to the banks of Vancouver, CA, after school one day - and then came back before dinner. Twice!

​The 1704-mile journey accomplished through cyberspace.​

​The barbaric wilds of Brentwood, the Canadian school our students visited virtually.

​Taylor arranged and conducted​ the entire collaboration using Google Hangouts: 

and recorded and documented the interactions using Apple's ​QuickTime.

​ ​

First, our students battled the Canadians in a Public Forum Debate (or "PF" to acolytes)​ to prepare for an upcoming competition. The students engaged in an hour-long, research-based debate, and then were able to give and receive feedback from the other team, and Brentwood's sponsor, Ryan Skardal. The second time around, they tried the Canadian style debate, in a more expository format that forced ​all participants to think and respond on their feet.

​The Canadian debaters (and sponsor) listen and take notes as our student, Sarah, elaborates a point.​

What did the students think? They were as impressed by the technical aspects of the experience (“Whoa! We’re transcending time and space”) as they were by the interaction itself with real, live Canadians. It allowed them to prepare with quality competitors, and experience a mock debate that was more ‘real’ than it would have been just among members of the team, with whom students are all familiar.

Plus, it allowed us to strike another blow in the cultural war against Canada. Thank goodness for that.

Next year, Taylor looks forward to conducting more international debates like this: to help novice debaters get their feet under them ​with the novelty and discomfort of competing against strangers, and t​o continue to have "more interesting conversations about interesting topics with our international friends.”

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