Planning an online debate?

Use the information in the table below to help guide you as you brainstorm ways to use debate in your curriculum. Please write your ideas on paper so that you can refer to it when you begin planning.

Additionally, please visit the Asynchronous Discussions module to experience good online discussion facilitation techniques to help with your online debates!

Interdisciplinary Subjects Informal Debate Formal Debate

Devil's Advocate Example
Exploratory Example

Formal Debate Example

Leadership Roles
Useful when students have had limited exposure to varying forms and need exposure to different ideas. Allows students to explore what works in particular situations.

Interpretation of Literature
Excellent way to tease out multiple interpretations of texts. Appropriate only for texts which have clearly defined opposing interpretations, such as portions of the Bible.

Good forum for the discussion of differing schools of thought within a discipline. May be very exciting for students to challenge the theoretical conventional wisdom within the structure of formal debate.

Ethical Considerations
May be the best way to explore ideas without controversy, but students may resent the Devil’s Advocate during this more sensitive subject matter. May be difficult for students to remain objective when topics are emotionally compelling to them.

Problem Solving
Supportive online environment may encourage creative thought and solutions through exploration of topic. Encourages students to practice problem solving techniques in their coursework.

Current Events
Allows students to explore many angles of issues in a non-threatening atmosphere and critique of common judgments will help students be precise in defense of their own beliefs. Encourages students to develop compelling arguments about current, relevant topics.

Political Action
May make students more comfortable expressing “politically incorrect” views. Can create an adversarial atmosphere.

Changes Within Discipline
Students can theorize different possibilities or outcomes for a course of action and helps students to develop their own philosophies regarding possible changes. Students become well versed in the directions their field may take or has taken.


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Modified November 2002
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