NGS Super National Virtual Debating Guide



Overview


The NGS National Virtual Debating Competition is an online debating competition for schools that has been running since 2015. The competition allows schools from all states and territories across Australia to compete in high quality debates against schools they would usually not have access to.

All schools in Australia are eligible to enter the competition provided they meet the minimum technical requirements laid out below.


Competition Structure


In 2020 the competition will be run as a Round Robin + Knockout event across 32 team divisions:

  • Primary School (Years 5+6)
  • Junior School (Years 7+8)
  • Middle School (Years 9+10)
  • Senior School (Opens)

Teams will be placed into 8 pools of 4 teams with the top two teams from each group progressing to the knockout stages. The knockouts stages will be single elimination format.

All match-ups in the competition are to be negotiated by the school coordinators. The group stage will provide a 4-month period from March through to the end of June. Each team will have three matches to negotiate within this time frame. The Knockout stages will have set date blocks throughout August, September and October for the match-ups to occur in. Teams that are unable to negotiate a suitable time within the allotted window will automatically forfeit the match/es that are incomplete.

Debate Structure

All debates in the competition are formatted as a 3v3 debate with the option of a 4th “silent”speaker. There are no Point of Information or Replies in this competition (brief interruptions from opposing team of the speaker to provide a question or statement regarding information in the speaker’s argument).

The debates will have different structure and rules depending on the age groups of the competitors. Allowance for younger age groups is made in an attempt to make this a more formative experience for students at this level. All teams will have 3 speakers with an optional 4th silent speaker who may help out team mates during preparation and during the debate. See descriptions for each age level below:

  • Senior Debates (Years 9+10 and Open) are “impromptu” with one hour of preparation time. Teams do not know the topic or which side of the debate they are on until 1 hour before the debate starts. The adjudicator/host will reveal the topic and affirmative/negative assignments at the beginning of the preparation time . Schools will then mute the microphones but leave their cameras running. After an hour the adjudicator will re-join the session and start the debate. This level will allow an “authentic” approach to preparation and teams will be able to access the Internet and other content sources during their hour of preparation.

    • Year 9 + 10: staff/coordinator may assist during preparation time for technique and approach only. No assistance can be given on content/argument. There is to be NO input from the staff/coordinator during the actual debate. Staff/coordinator should be visible on camera.

    • Open: No staff/coordinator input is allowed at this level. Staff/coordinator should be visible on camera.

  • Junior Debates (Years 5+6 and 7+8) teachers in this division can access their topic and indication of Affirmative or Negative position a week before the debate. All resources can be utilised to build arguments.

    • Year 5 + 6: staff/coordinator at this level can provide input on technique, approach and content in the lead up to the debate. There is to be NO input from the staff/coordinator during the actual debate. Staff/coordinator should be visible on camera.

    • Year 7 + 8: staff/coordinator at this level can provide input on technique and approach in the lead up to the debate but NOT content.  There is to be NO input from the staff/coordinator during the actual debate. Staff/coordinator should be visible on camera.

Time Allowances:

  • Primary (Years 5 + 6):
    • Topic released on the Monday prior to the scheduled debate time (all teams will have at least a week preparation time)
    • Debate, including adjudication will be approximately 1 hour
    • Individual speaking times are 4 minutes per speaker with a single clap warning at 3 minutes, 2 claps at 4 minutes and a continuous clap at 4 minutes 15 seconds.

  • Junior (Years 7 + 8):
    • Topic released on the Monday prior to the scheduled debate time (all teams will have at least a week preparation time)
    • Debate, including adjudication will be approximately 1 hour
    • Individual speaking times are 5 minutes per speaker with a single clap warning at 4 minutes, 2 claps at 5 minutes and a continuous clap at 5 minutes 15 seconds.

  • Middle (Years 9 + 10): 
    • Topic released at the start of the debate - teams given 1 hour research/preparation time
    • Debate, including adjudication and preparation time will be approximately 2 hours
    • Individual speaking times are 6 minutes per speaker with a single clap warning at 5 minutes, 2 claps at 6 minutes and a continuous clap at 6 minutes 15 seconds.

  • Senior (Open): 
    • Topic released at the start of the debate - teams given 1 hour research/preparation time
    • Debate, including adjudication and preparation time will be approximately 2 hour
    • Individual speaking times are 7 minutes per speaker with a single clap warning at 6 minutes, 2 claps at 7 minutes and a continuous clap at 7 minutes 15 seconds.


Scoring and Adjudication

An adjudicator will be assigned to each debate, either live or post the debate via a review of the recording. Where possible the adjudicator will deliver the result at the conclusion of the debate. The final score sheet will also be loaded into the match-up screen in the Match Centre after the scores have been submitted by the Adjudicator

Scoring will be between 70-80 with the average speech receiving a 75. The scores will further be divided into three sections: Matter (or content: the logical construction of arguments and the level of engagement in refutation), Manner (or style: the use of verbal and nonverbal techniques to engage the audience) and Method (or structure and strategy: the organisation of the speech to maximise clarity and persuasiveness). Matter and Manner will be worth 40 marks each and Method will be worth 20 marks: a speech with average Matter or Manner will receive a 30, and a speech with average Method shall receive a 15, etc.

For further information on scoring or the technical aspects of debating please consult the Australasian Debating Guide website.


Coordination and Running of an Individual Debate


It is the responsibility of the school coordinator to schedule, organise and oversee each debate for their team/s by following the steps listed below:

Scheduling a debate:

  1. Refer to the draw on the website and locate the teams next opposition
  2. Contact the coordinator from the opposition school and negotiate a date and time within the window for that round
  3. Decide who will submit the Debate Nomination Form (only one form needs to be submitted per debate) and then submit accordingly
  4. Refer back to the draw for confirmation of date and time (within 24 hours of nomination form being submitted)
  5. For Primary and Junior debates refer back to the draw one week prior to the debate to obtain the topic and assignments

On the day of the debate:

  1. Refer to the draw to obtain the Zoom link for the debate
  2. Join the virtual room at least 10 minutes prior to the debate start time and setup room, cameras and seating
  3. Carry out a sound check with Adjudicator or host when both teams are present
  4. Oversee the debate to ensure all rules, behaviour and etiquette's are followed during the entire debate as set out in the coordinators guide
  5. Mute microphone when opposition is speaking, un-mute when your team is speaking
  6. Where needed, move the camera position during speaker’s argument to focus on the speaker and then back to the full team when opposition is speaking


Minimum Technical Requirements


To participate in the Program, schools should ensure they can meet the requirements listed below, a test connection will be done with all participating schools prior to the competition start.

  • reliable internet connection
  • Video conferencing encoder (codec - H323/SIP) OR
  • Desktop/laptop computer with the following peripherals
    • Microphone - ability to pick up participant input from anywhere in a reasonable sized room. They are also “echo-cancelling” which means output from the speakers is detected and not permitted to loop back through the microphone; very disconcerting for those speaking at the other end and unacceptable in a debate scenario.
    • High Definition (HD) Camera - HD quality cameras that can ZOOM and PAN to any position in the room. Digital ZOOM acceptable but optical zoom desired. Programmable pre-set positions are highly desirable.
    • Speakers - sound output sufficient so incoming audio can be heard comfortably anywhere in the room
    • TV or projector for input

If you do not have this equipment already, you must commit to purchasing it prior to the competition starting.


Other Useful Information



Time Zones

As the competition operates across a number of different time zones, we ask that all dates submitted for debates are entered in the current NSW time format for that debate. Meaning during daylight savings all nomination forms should be submitted in AEDT time, likewise when not in daylight savings all nomination forms should be submitted in AEST time. A display for each time zone will be listed on the competition pages for easy reference.


Use of Computers During a Debate

As outlined above, authentic preparation using internet enabled devices is allowed for all levels of debates in the competition regardless of a one-hour (impromptu debates) or a one-week preparation.

However, during debates the use of computers/tablets/phones is restricted to speech note summaries only. Active use of the internet/apps or documents are not allowed once a debate has started. The use of computers by students effectively as palm cards is allowed but obviously the straight reading of speeches may influence a student’s “manner” score.


Where Can I Get More Information

If you would like more information about this competition please contact the NGS Super National Virtual Debating Coordinator.


Corwin Hooper
0427 649 998