Stanford Invitational Tournament

COVID-19 response & planning

See a sample day’s schedule for our online programs, you may also visit our Online Virtual Programs page for more information


Online instructional plan - updated 4/8/2020

Our initial discussions centered around how to offer the best possible online camp experience.  We believe strongly that the way learning takes place face to face in a classroom is materially different than the way learning occurs in front of a screen, potentially thousands of miles away from one’s instructor -- one is not necessarily better or worse than the other, both but have significant differences.

It was clear that we could NOT simply move our existing curriculum online and ask students to meet for precisely scripted 10 hour days following schedules that did not necessarily make sense for many participants given time zones and the realities of students and parents both remotely working from their homes.  We reached out to consult with various successful online programs (for example Stanford Online High School and the Global Online Academy) and created a new program from the ground up, one that’s specifically built for an online environment.

We do not consider this summer to merely be a one-time program in place of an in-person camp.  Instead, we put significant thought into designing a fundamentally sound online program which we intend to offer again in the future to broadly increase access to speech & debate education.

What is the SNFI online program experience?

  1. We are using a flipped classroom approach to online learning which combines synchronous (face to face) and asynchronous (online individual or small group assignments) time.  Students will meet with instructors and other students by video conference for approximately two to four hours a day.  For asynchronous portions of the curriculum, students will be given assignments to complete on their own schedule during the rest of the day, which are then submitted via Google Classroom and responded to individually on a quick turnaround by instructors.  These asynchronous assignments will be designed to drive student engagement and foster uptake of foundational skills.

  2. Our goal is to provide the best possible online speech & debate education, not to merely move the speech & debate camp experience that many are familiar with online.  To that end, we do not intend to necessarily mirror all of the traditional speech and debate “work” that’s done at in-person camp when migrating that work to an online platform does not correspond to educational best practices.

  3. On weekends, instructors will make optional assignments available and SNFI will also host a series of practice tournaments for attendees to practice their skills in real-time debates.  These tournaments will be available at no additional cost to SNFI program participants and will also be open at an additional cost to non-camp participants to ensure greater participation and access.

  4. We will release a tech guide with detailed suggested equipment baselines and set up best practices to optimize the online debating experience and get the most benefit from our platform.  At a minimum, students will need access to high speed internet and a computer with a webcam and microphone.

  5. Join a demonstration class to walk through the tech setup for our online summer program and see a sample day’s schedule.

Comparing the SNFI online experience to a fully synchronous online program: We know that speech & debate is traditionally very synchronous when taught at a physical in-person camp, so we’ve highlighted a few of the strong benefits of a hybrid approach that we believe are key advantages of SNFI’s hybrid approach to online learning:

To further help your family make a decision about attending the online SNFI in summer 2020, we have created a sample class on Google classroom to illustrate our plan for asynchronous assignments. You can join a demonstration class to see what the online experience looks like.


Initial announcement - updated 4/15/2020

In the last few weeks, a lot has changed here on the Stanford campus and around the world.  We had been waiting on final word from the University on whether Stanford would be open for residential & commuting programs for minors during summer 2020 before making a formal announcement about our plans for this year’s SNFI programs.  Now that a campus-wide decision has been made, we are excited to share the plans that we’ve been working on since mid-March!

We are fortunate to have a number of professional educators with extensive experience running online programming on staff at Stanford Debate, and staff from Stanford’s world class online middle and high schools are supporting Stanford summer programs for minors transitioning to online teaching and learning this summer.  SNFI 2020 will be an expertly crafted experience designed for a virtual online environment from the ground up to provide one of the strongest student learning outcomes within speech & debate.  Stanford Debate’s approach to online education is built on a hybrid learning environment composed of both synchronous (live video face to face) and asynchronous (instructional videos, research assignments, speech recordings, etc.) components designed for students to get the most out of their camp experience without needing to sit in front of the computer for a traditional and rigid 10 to 12 hour daily camp schedule.

Our approach has been to apply our wealth of experience to deliver a summer speech & debate program in a new format, tailored to the unfortunate realities of likely to continue social distancing guidelines.  We are not simply creating and offering a one-off “make the best of it” program, but rather the leadership team at SNFI is working to create an online program built on sound pedagogy that is replicable in future summers to broadly increase access to speech & debate education.   We trust you will have confidence that we are approaching the current challenge with the same level of professionalism we’ve brought to over 30 years of traditional in-person summer programs and large-scale competitions.

SNFI is accommodating all students that are currently enrolled across the range of our programs through our new virtual camp environment, but please note that this message does not constitute formal notification of a change of date or fundamental character of the program under our refund policy and thus this message has no bearing on your decision making timeframe.  We’ve prioritized letting everyone know of the coming changes as soon as possible, even though the full details for this summer are not yet available.

If you are enrolled for this summer, we’ll be updating our systems over the coming days so that all dates, sessions, locations, and other details are fully transitioned in accordance with our new plans for this summer.  Once we’ve completed that transition, we will make another announcement covering a number of subjects:

We hope everyone is staying safe and look forward to working with you this summer!

-The SNFI Administrative Team


Rich Boltizar, Director of Debate, Stanford University

Brian Manuel, Policy Debate Director, Stanford Debate Society,  Debate Programs Coordinator, SNFI

Corey Turoff, Events Coordinator, Stanford Debate Society & At-Camp Administrative Director, SNFI