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Open AccessArticle

The Use of a Virtual Online Debating Platform to Facilitate Student Discussion of Potentially Polarising Topics

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Sydney School of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camperdown 2006, NSW, Australia
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Sydney Health Ethics, The University of Sydney, Camperdown 2006, NSW, Australia
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Biz Hub Australia Pty Ltd., 1 Northcote St, Torrensville 5031, SA, Australia
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Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton 4343, QLD, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2017, 7(9), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7090068
Received: 17 July 2017 / Revised: 23 August 2017 / Accepted: 28 August 2017 / Published: 2 September 2017
The merits of students exchanging views through the so-called human continuum exercise (HCE) are well established. The current article describes the creation of the virtual human continuum (VHC), an online platform that facilitates the same teaching exercise. It also reports feedback on the VHC from veterinary science students (n = 38). First-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students at the University of Sydney, Australia, trialed the platform and provided feedback. Most students agreed or strongly agreed that the VHC offered: a non-threatening environment for discussing emotive and challenging issues; and an opportunity to see how other people form ideas. It also made them think about how to express their ideas and make arguments; and left them feeling more comfortable about expressing their views using it than they would discussing ideas face-to-face (98%, 84%, 79% and 76%, respectively). All respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the VHC encouraged them to consider other opinions. These data suggest that the transition of the HCE to an online platform facilitates dialogue on difficult ethical issues in a supportive environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: discussion tool; ethical frameworks; safe learning; online debating; virtual human continuum discussion tool; ethical frameworks; safe learning; online debating; virtual human continuum
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McGreevy, P.D.; Tzioumis, V.; Degeling, C.; Johnson, J.; Brown, R.; Sands, M.; Starling, M.J.; Phillips, C.J.C. The Use of a Virtual Online Debating Platform to Facilitate Student Discussion of Potentially Polarising Topics. Animals 2017, 7, 68.

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