Stanford Invitational Tournament

Online Virtual Programs

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:

  • Synchronous time, but only when it adds value: Synchronous learning still takes place every day with relevant activities designed to review material covered asynchronously and build rapport amongst participating students.

  • Improved outcomes: Multiple studies indicate that our “flipped” classroom model delivers greater student engagement and content permanency, with asynchronous assignments used for content delivery and synchronous meetings focused on developing student skills/understanding of that material.  You can find a review of these studies here.  

  • Increased flexibility: Students will complete roughly 70% of their work on their own time, enabling better time management during a difficult situation (shelter-in-place orders, rolling quarantines, family needs, etc.)

  • Better resiliency: In our extensive experience with online teaching and learning, technical difficulties play a large role in dictating the direction of synchronous programming.  Fully synchronous programs are brought to a halt in the event of any technical problems and are unable to fall back on an available structured asynchronous curriculum to pick up the slack.

  • Developmentally appropriate: Multiple studies (for example, the Journal of American College Health) point to a series of issues with fully synchronous online learning.  For instance, prolonged sitting has material effects on health and focus, lectures and other listening-driven activities often outlast student attention spans, and a fully synchronous curriculum forces students to sometimes work during times that don’t make sense for their learning outcomes because of time zones.

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.


No Sessions Currently Scheduled For This Camp