Debates & Discussions as a Cost Effective Mode of Collective Learning

Debate & Discussion in Office

A few days ago, I participated in a debate cum discussion organized by a not-for-profit organization. The purpose of the event was to enhance the collective understanding of the local group on a specific subject called “Democracy Within our Organization.” Without going into the details of the subject matter, I would like to share the methodology adopted by the not-for-profit which can be used by any organizations.

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1. Early Notice of the Debate Topic

Organization notified each member of the debate topic two weeks in advance. The early notification provided sufficient time to volunteers to prepare themselves for the debate.

2. Supply Reading Material 3 Weeks before Discussion

The organization sent each member a booklet which contained the content about the subject matter. Each volunteer was asked to read the document and notify the group leader before the debate day.

3. Debate/Discussion Process:

The method to conduct, discipline and conclude the debate was unique. The debate has three rounds of discussion & questioning sessions with the following process:

• In the first round, each member has to speak for a pre-determined time about what he understood about the subject from the reading material or from his other references.
• Once all members have spoken, Group Leader urged members to ask questions & queries.
• In the light of new knowledge gained by the members from peers, they were asked to speak again about the subject matter.
• One all members have spoken for the second time, selected senior members reinforced the essential points of subject matter.
• Finally, the Group Leader concluded the discussion and answered the member questions & queries.

The Benefits of this method

  • As each member know that they have to speak on the said subject, they not only read the study material thoroughly but also gather additional information from internet/other resources.
  • Each member gets two/three chances to speak, he/she is never out of the engagement.
  • As the debate moves on, the collective understanding of the group enhances.
  • Group gets different perspectives of the individual members on the same subject.
  • The group gets to a common understating of the subject matter based on collective knowledge.

The cost to Organization: NIL. This method of learning does not cost any money to organization except the learners times and some coffee.

The Limitations: This type of approach is suitable for teams located in the same office/city.

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