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Creating assignments

Want your students to debate? You have options! Choose from one of our prepared debate kits or use your own topic to create synchronous or asynchronous in-person or virtual debates!

Create a new assignment

In Argutopia, an "assignment" is typically a debate involving a topic and issues, students assigned to argue the Pro and Con side and, often, other students assigned to judge their peers' efforts (though there are other ways to use Argutopia to encourage your students to argue).
The first thing you'll need to do is decide how your students will debate.
The first thing you'll need to do is decide how your students will debate.

How will students debate?

The first thing you'll need to do is decide how your students will debate.
At present, Argutopia supports two kinds of debates: real-time, in-person debates or asynchronous threaded video debates.
Real-time, in-person debates are most traditional, where students debate live, usually in a class before their fellow classmates. Asynchronous, threaded video debates allow you to have students debate outside of class time by recording their speeches in succession from within Argutopia, then making those sequenced speeches available to their peers for review.
Each type of debate has some particular features, but both approaches begin with you selecting a start date and topic/issues as well as deciding whether and how the students not debating will judge.

Choosing a topic & issues

You'll begin by selecting a topic and issues your students will use to prepare for and participate in the debate. You can either write your own topic and issues to populate the model your students will access (check out our guide to writing topics & issues) or you can elect to use one of our debate kits.
Write your own topic & issues or use one of our curated debate kits
You can always edit the topic and issues and add or delete issues to customize the material for your needs. You're also able to add resources to the kit; typically this will link to articles, bibliographies or examples of arguments you'd like your students to use when preparing for their debates.
Once you've selected a topic and issues, you'll then be asked to choose whether your students will render a decision (i.e.: judge) for the debate.

Decision settings

One of the most powerful experiences in a debate assignment happens when the audience considers the arguments exchanged by the Pro and Con sides and renders their decision about which side prevailed. Argutopia makes it easy for you to arrange for your students to evaluate the arguments and articulate their rationale for their decision.

Individual decisions

If you opt to have your students submit only individual decisions, they'll have the opportunity to record the Pro and Con arguments in the appropriate areas and allocate the model to reflect their assessment of the debate. Once they submit their completed model, their job is done.

Group decisions

Having students deliberate in small groups about the outcome of the debate provides another opportunity for students to engage in metacognition, where they spend time talking and thinking about how they're talking and thinking. This is a powerful way to engage your students and get extra pedagogical mileage out of a debate.
If you opt to have students deliberate in small groups, they'll first submit an individual decision (and completed model) for your review. Once you publish their individual decisions to the group, the students can meet, compare models and work collaboratively on the creation of a single, group model that reflects the consensus of the deliberators.
From here, your assignment choices branch off depending on whether you're designing an asynchronous, threaded video debate or a real-time, in-person debate. We'll consider each in turn.

Asynchronous, threaded-video debates

Asynchronous, threaded video debates allow the Pro and Con debaters take turns recording their speeches (and viewing the previous speeches) outside of class time, typically with 24 hours for each speaker to record their speech. You're also able to assign other students judging responsibilities as individuals or small groups.
Having already selected a topic and the decision making approach for your asynchronous debate, you're ready to decide upon the format and set the due dates.

Format & Due Dates

Here you'll decide how students will face off. Asynchronous, threaded video debates are limited on format options as students record their contributions on their own time, making interactions like cross examination difficult. You can choose to have students debate in 1 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 debates. Once you select a format, you'll be given the option to set the length of each speech and the date by which it must be submitted. If you'd like, you can choose the "Auto Schedule" option and we'll schedule the students to submit each speech on a 24 hour cadence, beginning the day after the assignment opens.
You can also edit the times and dates to your preferences; at present, we're limited to recording only 5 minutes of video but we'll extend that soon. Remember to check the due dates for the adjudicators, both individual and groups. Regardless of when you choose to have students submit their work, the due dates must reflect the order of speeches (1st Pro - 1st Con - 2nd Pro - etc.).

Assign debate roles

Your next step is to assign students to their roles in the debate. You may do so manually, selecting each student from a list accessible via the "Edit Students" option in each role. You can also add (or delete) debates until you're satisfied with the roles students have been assigned.
Alternately, you can let us assign students to roles in the debate. Selecting "Auto Create" brings up a list of students rostered in your class. From that menu you may select which students you want to place into debater and/or judge roles. Note that we avoid conflicts for you: if you opt to have all your students take a turn as a debater and as a judge for the same assignment, we'll make sure that they're scheduled to judge a different debate than the one in which they're assigned Pro or Con responsibilities.
Assign student roles or use auto create to let us do it for you!
Before you move on, review the debates to be sure that you're happy with all the role assignments we've made. If you'd like to swap students into different roles, simply drag-and-drop them where you want them to be.
In the event that the number of students in your class isn't evenly divisible by the number of slots required to have each student debate, you may need to assign some students 2 (or more) debating roles in the assignment. You can do so by editing the students in the debate missing a speaker; be sure that the student isn't expected to speak in two different debates on the same schedule.

Review and publish

In the final step of assignment creation you'll be able to review all assignment details including the mode of debate, the topic and issues, due dates and the like. Importantly, you'll also see the order of speakers for each debate; you can adjust speaker order by dragging-and-dropping speakers into the order you prefer. Note that we'll be sure to maintain the Pro-Con order to be sure that the debate proceeds in order.
When you're satisfied, simply click "Create Assignment" and we'll make the assignment available to your students.

Real-time, in-person debates

When most Instructors think of a debate, they traditionally imagine students assigned to Pro and Con roles making arguments before a live audience. Argutopia helps you set up such debates for your classes.
Earlier in the setup process you selected a topic and determined whether your students will judge the debates they watch; now you're ready to put the rest of the debate together.

Selecting a format for your real-time, in-person debate

The format of your debate depends on your preferences. Do you want students to debate as individuals, partnerships, trios? Do you want a short debate or one that may last over an hour? Argutopia gives you a number of options.
Option one is to use a pre-designed format already loaded into Argutopia. Popular formats such as Lincoln-Douglas or Public Forum are available based on the number of debaters on each side and the amount of time you'd like the debate to last.
Let us suggest a format based on your parameters
A second option is to design your own format using our format designer. When you select "Design my own" and specify the number of debaters on each side, we'll open our format designer to assist you with creating your own format.
Add in elements from the menu on the left. "Speeches" refer to any opportunity for a Pro or Con debater to develop or review their arguments; "Interactions" are opportunities for the debaters to interact through cross examination, discussion or the like; and "Notes" allow you to communicate critical information within the layout of the format.
Use the format designer to create your ideal format (or edit an existing format)
You can specify the name of each element, the designated speaker(s), the time limit and any notes you'd offer as you add each element to the format.

Assign debate roles

Once your format is finalized, your next step is to assign students to their roles in the debate. You may do so manually, selecting each student from a list accessible via the "Edit Students" option in each role. You can also add (or delete) debates until you're satisfied with the roles students have been assigned.
Alternately, you can let us assign students to roles in the debate. Selecting "Auto Create" brings up a list of students rostered in your class. From that menu you may select which students you want to place into debater and/or judge roles. Note that we avoid conflicts for you: if you opt to have all your students take a turn as a debater and as a judge for the same assignment, we'll make sure that they're scheduled to judge a different debate than the one in which they're assigned Pro or Con responsibilities.
Note that you can set the dates for debates from here. We default to having the debate, individual adjudication and group deliberation scheduled for the same day; you may adjust accordingly. We also automatically schedule multiple debates in the same assignment for different days, avoiding weekends. Finally, you can drag-and-drop students to rearrange their roles or move them between debates.
When you're finished with assigning roles, you'll next proceed to an assignment review screen where you can do a final check of the debate you've arranged and make the assignment available to your students by clicking "Create Assignment."