Students continue speech and debate practice virtually amid school closures

In the new normal of physical distancing, video conferencing is now in greater demand when it comes to teaching and learning.
MID-WILSHIRE, LOS ANGELES -- With school closures and a Safer at Home order put into effect, the coronavirus outbreak had threatened to halt this educational institution's speech and debate program. Thankfully, with the help of technology and video conferencing, these students were able to continue their learning and debate practice virtually.

"We kind of faced the fact that we're starting to live in a post-coronavirus world," said Robert Cannon, director of forensics with Wilshire Academy.

When COVID-19 threatened to disrupt the institution, educators stepped up and came up with a way for their competitive speech and debate students to meet online.

"Luckily competitive speech and debate is one of the few activities that still translates in this medium," Cannon told ABC7.

Virtual rooms were specifically created for students to compete in. Without ever leaving their homes, students launch links to watch, participate and even get ranked by judges.

"We developed a way for students to be able to safely and securely still connect with other students from other academies," Cannon explained.

The transition online has not only saved the small private education institution from shutting down, but has also allowed tournaments to continue, giving students the chance to debate, speak and perform.

"My skill of putting my work into detail has greatly heightened," said Groton School student, Michelle Kim.

"Now we're able to branch out and explore other of areas of speech and debate that previously have never been explored before," said Walter Reed Middle School student, Alex Lee.

The video chat technologies are here to stay, readying students to adapt to the new world awaiting them.

"Right we're mid-coronavirus, but after all of this is over. What's going to change? And one of the things that definitely is going to change is more and more companies are going to be having people work from home," Cannon said. "The ability to teleconference, like we're doing now...That's a skill and we have to start teaching students how to do that aspect," Cannon added.

To learn more about the Wilshire Academy speech and debate team or other academics, visit wilshireacademy.com.