Today, March 21, the New York City Urban Debate League (NYCUDL) completed its first online Saturday Debate Club session for more than 40 students from the greater New York City area. The program is an extension of what was the NYCUDL’s physical Debate Club programming held in downtown Manhattan. The regular Debate Club session ran from 9:30-11:30 on Saturdays and today’s session ran from 9:30-11:30 on Saturday. The program used free e-buildings course infrastructure provided by classrooms.cloud to the NYCUDL so the nonprofit could have its own classrooms infrastructure. . Seven different labs/classes were held to support students in public forum debate and parliamentary debate. After the two hours session, the instructors met and provided some different points of feedback. Ease of platform use. Two of the instructors noted how easy it was to use the platform, noting that they were surprised as to how few difficulties were presented with the students accessing it. Switching rooms. Due to the COVID outbreak, it had been two weeks since we had Debate Club and a few students forgot their lab color. With the set-up, students were able to easily switch labs. Student problems at the beginning. Two of the instructors noted that one student in each of their groups had basic tech problems — problems with a working microphone, problems hearing, problems knowing how to use the room controls. They all noted, however, that within 10 minutes the students were engaged in learning. Internet connections. Basic home internet connections worked for almost everyone, but one instructor reported that one student had a weak connection and one instructor reported that her own connection was weak, as she was in a place she is not normally in. The students paid attention. All of the instructors noted how much the students were engaged and learning. Setting expectations. One instructor noted that he started the class by setting expectations for the students regarding how the platform would be utilized and the process for asking and answering questions. These included
- No side/non class specific conversations in the chat
- Keeping mics off until call upon to speak
- Turning mics of after one speaks
- Using the electronic, “raise hand” feature before asking a question and waiting to be called on to speak
Debate Club instructors meet after class to discuss the session.