Debatepedia – a resource worth looking at.

Someone sent the link through for Debatepedia on Twitter last week. I can’t remember who it was and that’s a shame because I would like to give them credit for alerting me to this resource. Debatepedia is like Wikipedia – a wiki based resource for debate topics. This is what is written on their main page:

Debatepedia is a wiki encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotations in important public debates from around the world. It is considered “the Wikipedia of debate”, helping the world centralize arguments and quotations found in millions of different articles, essays, and books into a single encyclopedia, so that citizens can better understand important public debates and make informed choices. Join this cause and community and become an editor of the site. Your efforts will improve your own thinking and have a major impact on the way thousands of other citizens draw conclusions. Debatepedia is endorsed by the United States’ National Forensic League 

It is an interesting resource and one that I think teachers and students in Secondary schools will find useful. A category browser is listed on the main page and you can explore these to see if a topic has been covered. Some topics have received a lot of attention and have quite a bit of detail in the pros and cons but others require more fleshing out. I looked up Environment and Animal welfare and checked out the page for Kangaroo Culling (obviously a topic Australian in nature and something I could look at objectively). I liked the fact that this appeared at the top of the entry;

Editing tasks you can help with:

  • The “costs” section of this article needs development.
  • More articles against culling should be presented in the pro/con resources section and arguments and quotations should be drawn from them.  

  Nice to see some recognition of areas needing improvement. In terms of information presented in the pros and cons you get a good rundown of the subtopics of the debate question but some of the information is a bit simplistic in terms of explanation. I would have liked to see more links included to allow students to follow these to verify information. Nonetheless, it would be a useful starting point for students to help them gain some understanding of a topic and introduce them to ideas they might choose to research further.

Like Wikipedia, this is a resource that will require explanation for our students. When I discuss Wikipedia with students I explain how the pages are created and ask students to cross reference information with other sources to verify what they have read. This to me is good research practise for any research activity. Some of the facts about Debatepedea are outlined on their main page;

Facts about Debatepedia
  • A wiki just like Wikipedia where anyone can edit and document debates, arguments, evidence, quotes, studies and more.
  • 7,134 articles. Debate pages, argument pages (for supporting evidence in the form of quotes, studies, links…), encyclopedia pages, team pages, and organization pages.
  • Over 450 existing, well-developed pro/con debate articles from IDEA’s famous Debatabase, written by expert debaters and professionals over the past 7 years (now you can edit them).
  • A growing community of 2,207 registered users.ain page;

It’s supported by the International Debate Education Association  (another resource I was not aware of!) and there are ample opportunities for people to get involved in helping to create pages. For senior students this could be an interesting exercise in helping them to understand how wikis function and to see how they can become creators of content. I read an article today about a professor from the University of British Columbia who had his students write entries on Wikipedia in the hope that their work would be of such high quality that their article would be granted feature article status on Wikipedia. To me, that represents an authentic learning task and is an idea worth exploring.    

I like Debatepedia and the ideas behind it, just as I like Wikipedia as a resource for our students. Provided our students are educated about how these resources are put together and they cross reference appropriately I see no harm in using them in our classrooms. I find myself using Wikipedia more and more as the quality of the pages improve with time.

7 Replies to “Debatepedia – a resource worth looking at.”

  1. Jenny, what a great find. I help the debaters at my school and many of them are into stuff like this. I think any debaters using this site will have an unfair advantage (interesting ways of thinking about their topics) so I will definitely show it to my students LOL.
    Thanks for writing it up.

  2. This is a great find. I’m glad to find it as well as your blog, Jenny, to which I’ve now subscribed.

    I heartily agree that asking learners of any age to engage in thoughtful and evidence-supported debate about different topics is the best way to promote in-depth learning about those topics as well as the further development of critical thinking skills.

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