Users of Blackboard Collaborate
Online Model United Nations is the first serious attempt to bring one of the world's most popular academic role-playing simulations to an online environment. The focus of our program is high school students who wish to engage in serious discussion, collaboration and debate on pressing global issues. Students assume the role of an assigned country and act as a delegate to represent their nation's policies. Many tens of thousands of students participate in this kind of face to face simulation each year, and our program seeks to expand MUN to individuals wishing to participate in this new forum but do not have the ability to travel to conferences.
Online MUN (O-MUN) debates have been field tested four times in in the past 18 months, with enthusiastic student response. In one debate, over 40 students logged in from five continents, and in real time and across immense geographic distance, debated the future of Afghanistan. Most recently the issue of global food security was debated. Model UN seeks to have students run and organize these debates, providing leadership opportunities as well. An average debate takes five student moderators (chat moderation, white board/amendments moderator, technical troubleshooter, as well as Chair and back channel tallying of student participation (we use Google docs and Skype for this purpose). Students enjoy the technology component of debating online, opening up additional avenues for student engagement.
A Blackboard/Collaborate room would allow us greater flexibility in setting up debates, lobbying and caucusing (where students meet together to collaborate and draft a resolution to be debated). Given the time zone issues we encounter, having a dedicated room for our meetings would ease the scheduling challenges we face. Often student meetings run well over the two hour block of time we can book through Learn Central, and even before we roll out this program in the fall, we are discovering the very strong need for additional online space.
O-MUN was founded with a co-collaborator and experienced MUN delegate, currently attending the University of Texas. My own background includes 15 years of international education at the secondary level, with many years of MUN Directing experience. O-MUN is a not-for-profit organization run solely by a small number of volunteers. We hope to expand Online MUN significantly at the beginning of September. Extensive use of social media (Facebook and Twitter) will be used to get the word out.
More information about our program can be found at http://mun.orgsync.com/about. A quick peek at what an online debate looks like (in a room provided by Learn Central) can also be found at http://login.o-mun.org/zU5y0. With the online Model UN tested and proven, an expanded, dedicated environment will allow us at O-MUN to take online, global debate to a new level.