I have been working on a series of blog posts about translating existing teaching practices into online models of delivery. In previous posts I looked at the lecture and the seminar, in this one I want to focus on debates.
One of the things I have noticed as the education sector moved rapidly to remote delivery was the different models that people used. However what we did see was many people were translating their usual practice to an online version, some have called this practice mirroring. As part of my work in looking at the challenges in delivering teaching remotely during this crisis period I have been reflecting on how teaching staff can translate their existing practice into new models of delivery that could result in better learning, but also have less of detrimental impact on staff an students.
Debating is a really useful way of enhancing learning, whether it be a formalised classroom debate, or an informal discussion arising from a presentation or a video.
Chairing and managing debates in a live classroom environment is challenging, but as a chair you need to ensure that the proponents of both sides of the debate, have their chance to put forward their view, but also that they are both given a fair hearing. You need to ensure that people have a chance to contribute to the discussion and ask questions, as well as ensuring that they can be answered. From an educational perspective, you also want to bring in everyone into the debate, so that they are engaged in the learning process.
Trying to translate a debate into an online version can be challenging and fraught with difficulties and may not necessarily engage all the students into the process.
So how do you, and how could you translate a one hour debate into an effective learning experience that happens online. The key aspect is to identify the learning outcomes of that debate and ensure that they are achievable in the translated session.
So at a simple level, you could translate your 60minute debate into a 60 minute online video conference debate.
Merely translating that one hour debate into a one hour Teams or Zoom discussion probably works fine for many in isolation. However it’s not just an hour, students may also be involved in other online seminars, Zoom lectures, live video streams and more online content.