Online debate

Subject: Cross-cutting themes
Summary: Students practice the skills of research, argumentation and rebuttal in the course of an online debate. The motion can be anything related to the current study topics. Online-debate can be conducted as a homework task for a longer period or can be organized during several lessons if the option of using computers is available.
Activity length: Duration is approximately 3x45 minutes.
  • Students research and analyze a study topic in depth.
  • Students develop research, critical thinking, argumentation and rebuttal skills.

Teacher chooses the debate motion either individually or with students.

Teacher creates a platform for the online debate. Recommended options might be Google Drive or Dropbox. Teacher creates a document which the students can later use for the online debate.


Teacher explains to the students what are the deadlines, the format and the motion for the online debate.

Teams of four members are created. In a team there are two students who support the debate motion and two students who are against the motion.

Students research and gather materials on the debate motion.

The affirmative side starts the debate by writing down their arguments to the shared document. negative side rebuts the arguments and bring their own arguments that support their position. After that the affirmative side strengthens and rebuilds their arguments. Debate either finishes with the second negative rebutting affirmative side’s arguments and giving their own new arguments or by summary speeches written by both side concluding the main points of clash. The lengths of the written speeches can be determined by the teacher.


Debate should be evaluated based on an assessment scheme.

Arguments should be well structured and explained. An argument should have four elements: statement, explanation, evidence, impact. If all elements exist four points should be given for each argument. Every missing element counts for one less point.

Every rebuttal should also have four elements: rebuttal statement, rebuttal explanation, evidence, impact. Same marking which is used for arguments also applies – each element gives one point.

It is also a possibility that debates are assessed by students using the same assessment scheme.