|Photo used with permission from Flickr.com|
I participated in the practice debates, as well as round 1 of the real, scored debates. It was very helpful to be part of the practice debate, because this was the first time I had ever been in a debate like this. Granted, I wasn't actually the one debating, but the students benefited from the practice as much as I did. The practice debate I judged was a little rough, but I was supposed to interact with other people from around the globe to judge the debate collaboratively. The students were debating against a school on the other side of the globe, and I was judging with people on the other side of the globe.
This is much easier said than done. While the concept of the Global Youth Debates was very interesting and unique, it was extremely difficult to collaborate with someone you've never met and can't talk with in real time. It was hard to communicate with the people I was assigned to work with, and I never really got to talk with them directly. I completed my portion of the debates, but my group was never really able to complete the debate as it was meant to be done. We were supposed to comment together, come to a consensus about how the debate went and score it, then each leave our own comments on the VoiceThread that the students were debating on. This was all well and good, but we ran into problems as far as being able to complete the judging in enough time to talk about it together, so we really weren't able to make that collaboration factor work.
For the first global collaborative project I've been a part of, I really enjoyed it, even though it turned out to be sort of unsuccessful. If anything, it taught me how hard it can be to coordinate collaboration on a global scale, even though it is extremely rewarding if it can be successful. Global collaboration is an amazing tool to help students (and teachers!) think globally and consider the people in the world as assets and friends, not as enemies or competitors.