Laptops in CX Policy Debate

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Question: What do you think of competitors who use laptops during CX/policy rounds? Is this common?

I'm generally a fan of it. I think there are a lot of advantages to using laptops. The biggest two are flowing and paperless evidence. This is a new trend that college and high school debate teams are transitioning to. The main reason for the push to paperless evidence is the cost of tubs/luggage on planes. My biggest concern with laptops is research during rounds! Much to my surprise, it's become an accepted practice in college debate. And as a result, it's only a matter of time until it reaches high school.

Quick clarification: When you say "it's become an accepted practice in college debate," do you mean researching during rounds or using laptops during rounds?

Thanks for the perspective. I remember being very surprised the first time a student took out a laptop at the beginning of a (high school) round; I had been judging CX for four years, and I had no idea what to do! It seems almost like it's cheating; how can a judge possibly know if a student has access to the Internet or other resources?

When both teams are using laptops, I don't see much of a problem, but it just doesn't seem right to me when one team is still using pen and paper. Also, I find it somewhat distracting when a speaker takes the laptop up to the podium with him/her...

To clarify, it's accepted practice in college debate to use a laptop AND research during rounds.

But you raise the key question- how does the judge know what they're doing on their laptop? using laptops and allowing research opens the door to talking to your coach?!

I had this discussion with the debaters and coaches at the Univ of North Texas and they raise a good point- how do you enforce anything? Even if there's a rule/norm against research during debates, how does the judge stop it or know it's happening?

With regards to laptops and in-round internet, I found that debaters typically police themselves. One time during a round I was unintentionally connected to a school's wifi (because my computer does so without prompting me). An opposing debater saw the icon during prep time and asked me to disconnect, which I was happy to. I wasn't actually using the internet, so it never became an issue.

Good point, Julian; there's really no way to police it (self-identified exceptions aside). Besides, the best debators know that their best evidence was read by the other team. Log off and THINK.

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