Debate Guidelines

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Two of the major objectives of this course are (1) to develop an awareness of the expectations of professional societies for its members, and in turn for the profession in general, and to develop in students an ability to analyze ethical problems and (2) to use oral presentations as a vehicle for the dissemination of information. On completion of this course we would hope that participants have an awareness of the codes of conduct promulgated by the propfessional societies and the application of those criteria to daily activities. Further students should be capable of looking at both sides of an argument and being able to weigh those positions in deciding what position they choose to take for themselves.

Thus in these on-line debates students are encouraged to express views that may not be specifically views that they espouse, but are views that represent other sides to an argument. It is quite conceivable therefore that students may post views that counter a particular position while at the same time they have posted views in disagreement with contrary positions!

While we plead that the views expressed should not be frivolous or petty, we should all recognize that this is an academic debate, intended to bring out all views, and that the views expressed are not necessarily the personal views of the person posting a statement -- they are simply contributions to the debate.

The Debate Management Groups

Each debate group will consist of four or five students. The groups will be determined from the class roll at the beginning of the semester, but may be modified as students add and drop the class. Groups will be used not only for the debates but also as a peer group for review and evaluation of written assignments.

Preliminary group assignments have been posted. The general schedule of on-line debates, and summary presentations is part of the class calendar.

Each group will be assigned an ethical scenario and should as soon as possible study the scenario and develop pro or con (for or against) "positions" on the subject. In particular you should pay particular attention to the relationships between your positions and the various codes of conduct, especially those in the US.

Group Chat Rooms

In order to facilitate the development of positions, though not strictly for that purpose, each group is assigned a "Chat Room". Click on the link below to access your Chat Room:

When entering the Chat Room, the first person in is the organizer and thus that person has control. Log-in with your PID.

The Debates

Debates will be conducted on-line through the use of an application written by Stuart Laughton and Philip Isenhour. To make sure you can participate (and remember that this is part of your participation grade) ensure that you have access to a version 2.0 of Mosaic (or later), or Netscape 1.0 (or later). Debates will be conducted on-line two weeks ahead of the date on which the group is to make its presentation. Each week one debate managed by two groups, will be conducted. Check the schedule for each group carefully. Each debate will proceed as follows:
  1. The debate pages will be prepared well in advance of the opening date, and though it will be unusable, initially anyone can examine the scenario (that will posted there in addition to the overall listing).
  2. At approximately 12 Noon on the first day of the debate schedule (that will run from Friday to Friday), the debate pages will be opened up to the groups who must, within 48 hours, post a pro positions or con positions, each consisting of 50-100 words, as assigned. Since there will be four groups managing each debate, they should cooperate on the posting of the initial pro and con positions. This may be done my e-mail instead of face-to-face; however the task of developing positions needs to be accomplished in advance of the posting dates.
  3. At 12 Noon on the first Sunday, the debate pages will be opened to all class participants who may then post their arguments as agreeing with or opposing any of the posted positions. Statements of agreement with a position may be recorded simply as a "vote" without comment (but will get no participation points), but disagreements must be accompanied by a comment. As comments are posted you will be able to see other people's comments and the tally of how many people agree or disagree with a position.
  • At 12 Noon on the second Friday, the debates will be closed, and the management groups can access the accumulated comments.
  • On the third Friday (see the Calendar), each group responsible for a scenario will present a summary of the on-line debate in class. Since there are two groups from each class section managing the debate, one has been assigned the pro position and the other the con position. The presentations should be based on the "side" that they were assigned (not simply the one position) and the arguments for and against. This will not itself be an opportunity to reopen the debate, but should be presented by the group in a point/counterpoint style among the members of the group. Click here for a set of slides from a sample group presentation. Note that in this particular case the group presented both sides of the issue.
  • A report on the debate (possibly the script of the summary presentation) should be included in each student's portfolio that is required at the end of the course. Access to the debate pages will be restricted to members of this class; you will be asked for an identifier and a password. The initial password will be announced in class and by LISTSERV.

    The Debate Summary and Presentation

    The summary of the debate should take 25 minutes. The summary is expected to be judged on how well each presentation actually addresses the issues raised. The group should work together prior to the presentation so that each member knows what arguments will be made. There should be no surprises when the debate is presented.


    To connect to the debate page click here.

    Last updated 2002/02/01
    © J.A.N. Lee, 1994-2002.