Author: Carly Watson
In a different world, we would have been spending today at the National Debate Tournament. Instead, today was the first online beta-testing round as part of the NDT’s preparation for the possibility of future online debates. Six quick takeaways:
1. Audio Quality – Internal microphones or headsets continue to work best. Body microphones are hard to capture sound with because of movement and speed. MSU Debate bought and has liked these headsets but there are many gamer headsets options. If you’re going to use your laptop’s internal microphone, spend some time figuring out where your laptop’s microphones are. This article is a good start on where to find internal microphones but a quick Google search can help you make sure you’re not obscuring your microphone with your hands, water, etc. No matter what microphone you’re using, have your mouth in the video frame – it helps with following the speech.
2. Lag – Lag was an issue for some people on this test. There was a significant improvement and reduction in lag if you use an ethernet cable to hook up to your router. It also helps for the speaker to slow down a touch and be cognizant of recommendations in #1.
3. Partners Prepping – Students in this debate experimented with FaceTiming or calling each other during prep time. They used chat options throughout the debate. From today’s test, we found it’s important that you end any side calls before the speech starts to eliminate feedback in the Zoom room.
4. Email Chain vs. Zoom Files – Preference was split on which option worked better. The Zoom file transfer option is instant, in the same window and everyone in the room has access. Conversely, we had some error messages when people tried to use it and some people were using secondary devices to open speech docs so they preferred it go to the email chain.
5. Live Video – We tested having only the debaters on video and the debaters with all the judges (in this case seven judges). It helps for instant feedback both before and during speeches to have all the judges on camera. In this trial, there didn’t appear to be a significant increase in lag with more videos going but there is potential that it would affect computers with slower GPUs or use too much bandwidth.
6. Familiarity – Many parts of debate that we all love translate. A bunch of people got together in a “room” on a Saturday morning to debate. There was still cross-ex cross talk. There was still someone who needed the order a few too many times. There was still Adrienne making sure that the debate started on time. Some things are and will be different but some things about it are still awesome.
No doubt, there’s still work to do and we’ll keep testing different options over the next weekends but progress is happening. Thank you to everyone that participated in today’s test debate as a judge, coach, observer, or debater – it was great to spend a Saturday morning with you!