[eDebate] Paperless -- Who is doing it?

Aaron Hardy spoon_22
Wed Jun 24 22:34:53 CDT 2009

Excited to see how many schools are switching -- thanks for all the questions and feedback so far, and please keep them coming.  I've also heard from several other college programs who haven't posted, as well as at least 3 more nationally competitive high school programs.

Updated version of the paperless manual is also in the works and should be posted soon.

Quick responses to questions/comments:

David -- "Any place to get cheap laptops?"

Nothing particular, but keep in mind that the system requirements are pretty low -- people that have contacted me recently have said they're doing well with refurbished laptops for $200 a piece.

Crowe -- "Flowing on the laptop?"

I think that 2 of our 14 debaters currently flow on their laptop.  I've recommended to most of my students that they flow on paper because I think they debate better in general -- but it's certainly possible to do both on the computer.  How cumbersome people find it is probably just a function of tech saavy and practice.  One suggestion for those with slightly larger screens has been to set up your desktop to show two columns of the flow on the left side of the screen, and keep the speech document to the right so you can see both at the same time.

Basically, it's doable but probably won't be standard practice for us...

Andy -- "Reliable laptops?"

Some more than others, certainly -- Jim or I do a tech inspection the day before we leave for any tournament to avoid problems when we get there, and we have a few extra old team laptops at the squadroom for contingencies.  So far, we've made do -- but yes, it's a concern.

Abe -- "Several concerns"

I think Brad already dealt with these concerns, just a couple additional comments:

1)  Longer debates -- I think the debates are net shorter, if anything.  Easily the number one time waster for debates I judge is waiting for a team to find their evidence in the piles of crap on, under, and around the table.  The minimal time spent waiting to jump files doesn't actually make the debate take longer, it just happens at a spot in the debate where people aren't used to waiting.

2)  Evidence comparison -- There are certainly differences, but I think they're pretty surmountable with practice.  Being able to put stars next to blocks you want to CX about, or making effective use of the viewing computer takes time to adjust to, but most of my debaters say they now find it easier to run a CX (for example) during all-paperless practice debates than they did with paper.

3)  Extra Cards -- You're correct that this falls under "minor inconvenience" for the paperless team -- my debaters just put a few extra cards at the bottom of their speech doc.  As for the "frantically flipping," I think this is substantially less annoying than trying to decipher the spilled stacks of paper off the podium or locating the 2NC link wall before the 2AR.

4)  Cost comparison = not close.  In a world of  $250 laptops, it's easy to outfit a team for less than $1000.  Even if those only lasted 2 years, that's $500/year.  That's less than baggage fees for one team for a year.  That's less than the difference between renting a minivan instead of a full-size car at just a couple of tournaments.  Even if printing costs are 2 cents a page, do the math on what it takes to print even a single ream of paper.  The most conservative conceivable estimate puts paperless way, way ahead.  Tu veux rire?

Brad -- "Marking cards?"

So far, my debaters have been pretty conscientious about marking ev on the viewing computer they mark during the speech -- and usually they verbally announce "marked" or something when they stop short during a card so a team who is (theoretically) following along can do it themselves as well.


> Date: Wed, 24 Jun 2009 03:03:36 -0400
> From: lacyjp at wfu.edu
> To: edebate at ndtceda.com
> Subject: [eDebate] Paperless -- Who is doing it?
> Thanks to Whitman & Hardy's hard work proving it works, who is planning 
> to go paperless next year?
> Wake is planning to. We are stealing Hardy's work to make it happen.
> The health care savings alone will pay for it:)
> -- JP
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> eDebate mailing list
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