Why Model UN Conferences Should Re-Think Their Laptop and Technology Policies

by KFC on March 20, 2012

Imagine if delegates could collaborate on their resolutions via Google Documents.

When I was a delegate, I was concerned about a conference’s laptop policy because the delegates with laptops would have a competitive advantage and we’d have to strategize on how to counter them. When I became a conference organizer, I was concerned about my own conference’s laptop policy because we wanted to make sure that access to technology was equal, and we’d usually ban laptops in committees because it gave wealthier delegates an unfair advantage. Now that Ryan and I increasingly teach in classrooms, speak with educators inside and outside of Model UN, and reflect on our experiences in the working world, we realize that the arguments behind these laptop policies miss a point.

Specifically, all these laptop policies are framed from a viewpoint that Model UN is a competition — it’s an unfair advantage for one delegate to have a laptop because it increases his or her chance to win awards. The opposite point of view — that Model UN is an educational experience — would argue that if laptops are used properly in the committee room, then everyone wins because the information pulled from laptops would be beneficial for all delegates to know. Everyone would be able to produce better solutions and weed out bad ones if they are able to go online to evaluate and research into new ideas that are brought up throughout debate. Furthermore, technology allows for deeper collaboration among delegates and can make a conference more green by eliminating the paper used for resolutions and notes.

Unfortunately, the learning experience in Model UN is currently sub-optimal because conferences have chosen to ban laptops and technology in the committee room as a competitive equalizer. But if Model UN is supposed to prepare our students to be future leaders — leaders in all professions that will certainly require the use of computers and smartphones on a daily basis — then conferences must reconsider their policies to not only allow but encourage delegates to start using laptops and other technological tools now in their Model UN simulations.

After reflecting on my own experience working in marketing, operations, and sales at AT&T and the leadership training conferences I attended in the working world, here are four blue-sky suggestions for conference organizers to consider as they plan to what extent technology can help revolutionize the conference experience:

1. Allow laptops in committees. Laptops open up a lot of advantages besides saving paper and time by having the resolutions typed by the delegates. Assuming a conference provides WiFi, this allows delegates to do research and fact-based analyses throughout the committee as new ideas come up so they can strengthen them or challenge them. The overall learning process, quality of debate, and specifics in resolutions would be much better if delegates were able to use laptops to supplement their existing preparation.

2. Tweet instead of passing notes. Notes are messy, use up lots of paper, are slow to reach their intended recipient, and note passers look like distraction in committee. The revolutionary and educational experience would be to have a Twitter feed displayed on a projected screen in committee and perhaps accompanied with the committee’s specific hashtag. Many real conferences, particularly technology or social media conferences, already do this. Delegates can provide feedback on a speech or communicate with certain delegates via Twitter and it’d be instantly and publicly displayed. Social media is a powerful tool when participants can communicate with each other. Some conferences use Twitter now for crisis updates, but again the real strength behind Twitter is conversation instead of just broadcasting.

3. Collaborate using Google Documents. Collaboration drives innovation and efficiency since many people are empowered to contribute to a solution. Currently, having one delegate hoard a resolution makes collaboration sub-optimal and makes information flow bottlenecked at one person. The better educational experience would be to open collaboration up to many delegates — everyone can contribute their ideas into a shared resolution on Google Documents. The sharing feature also allows delegates to work on and view the latest updates on the resolution at all times. Resolutions no longer need to be printed if everyone can pull it from their own laptops or see it on the projector; if it needs to be printed, then sharing it with conference services will make for a much quicker turnaround time.

If this is a college conference, we can even extend the collaboration to PowerPoint or other applications that would be used in the real life committees that are being simulated. Make the Model UN experience teach students more than just writing resolutions.

4. Spark brainstorming via a blog or social network. If the goal is to have a deep understanding of the topic and to come up with the best solutions, then committee chairs should help warm-up the debate and spark the brainstorming by sharing links to articles or starting discussions on a blog, Facebook group, or even a Google Hangout. The learning process through continual updates and the pre-committee networking amongst the delegates will make for higher quality debate and stronger friendships.

**

Although having delegates use technology in committees would be ideal for an educational experience, there are also issues that make conferences hesitate in implementing it. The issues that conferences would need to address include:

Accessibility: How can conferences ensure that all delegates can access laptops and other technological tools before and during the conference? Despite the price of laptops having dropped significantly since when I started doing MUN (an iPad costs half of what a laptop used to cost, and netbooks are relatively cheap now), not all delegates can afford laptops. Although the sharing of laptops would improve the educational experience, it is still sub-optimal because students aren’t learning to use or manage the tools themselves. Is there some way for conferences to invest in a joint laptop fund or unite together in a pitch to a computer giant to donate to the activity?

Appropriate use: How can conferences ensure that technology is not abused through pre-written resolutions, working non-collaboratively overnight, or used for non-conference-related purposes while in committee? These issues already exist without laptops — how can we ensure that technology doesn’t exacerbate them?

Awarding for collaboration: How can conferences fairly award a delegate now that technology is introduced in committees? Does a conference’s awards policy favor delegates with the best ideas and therefore drive action to maintaining ownership of a resolution and competitive advantages in technology use? Can a conference’s policy be amended or clarified to reward collaboration — helping everyone in your bloc share technology resources and come up with the best ideas in order to produce the best resolution across all committees rather than the best one relative to your own committee?

**

At some point, I hope that the use of technology will help revolutionize the Model UN experience and make it an even better teaching tool than it currently already is. For now, I hope MUN conference organizers start by looking at how other conferences are conducted in the working world or brainstorm with teachers on the educational value of technology and think about how they can innovate given current constraints and policies.

What do you think about laptops and technology being used in committees? What else can Model UN do to better prepare its participants for the real world? Let us know in the comments below! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508297753 Emily Borden

    Great article! UMass Amherst’s & Mount Holyoke College’s FCMUN employed some of these techniques during last year’s conference (including using instant messaging & Tumblr so that crisis & committee could communicate without running between rooms or having insane amounts of notes & paper being wasted), but it will be interesting to see how conferences integrate laptops and other technology into their rules.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7411139 Mike Imbrenda

    1.) Totally economically discriminatory towards low income students. I attended a school from a working class neighborhood where most people didn’t even have computers, much less laptops. Even now, most low and middle income students won’t be able to participate and people will gravitate towards the wealthy laptop owner. It was entirely clear that schools from wealthy places had advantages over the rest of us because of their access to technology and printing facilities.

    2.) Actual diplomacy is not carried out over technological means. Its largely done with people marking up some paper, note passing. Tweeting completely eliminates the often secret, manipulative actions that simulate real world diplomacy (and just about every other competitive group activity). The best skills I learned from Model UN were not focused on the collaborative, open aspects, but by the ability to articulate and advocate a point in either a convincing or coercive manner. Also, Model UN, in general, is not about good solutions to problems, it is about authentically replicating and understanding the policy challenges real life diplomats/officials face in being constrained by multiple domestic and international interests. “Collaboration” is generally not a skill that is valued in actual complex diplomatic questions, the ability to convince the middle and outwit the adversary are where people with Model UN experience typically shine.

    3.) The fields where Model UN is most applicable–namely government, and even serious development work–is largely divorced from technology and many folks who have generated an over-reliance on using smart phones and laptops to immediately access information realize quickly that having information available is no substitute for actually understanding issues (especially issues where little credible information is available, which is most complex policy issues facing the world). Policy communities rarely use technology for anything other then sending emails from their blackberries outside of hours (and most don’t even do that).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Hi Mike,

      1. I think the discrimination against lower socioeconomic status students argument applies primarily if the conference is giving out awards and has an awards policy that favors those who can manipulate committee with a laptop. If it was about an educational experience and there are no awards (an example would be THIMUN), then it doesn’t matter as much on who is holding the laptop because everyone gets to contribute ideas. But without the proper awards policy, then of course the wealthier students will have an advantage. We all know that from staffing Global Classrooms, and I personally knew that when I was a high school student from LA who didn’t have a laptop but had to compete in a relatively wealthy area (Orange County) where it was common to have laptops.

      2. I think Model UN is more than just about foreign policy toward peace and security issues. In peace and security committees, politically-charged committees, and especially in crisis committees, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to share information and that reflects real life. But for the vast majority of Model UN topics — education, HIV/AIDS, climate change, women’s rights, economic development, etc. — I think collaboration is more important and that we should be teaching students to dig deeper and analyze what is being presented in committee through continual research.

      3. Keep in mind that Model UN is also useful for many fields beyond government (I come from a business perspective). I also think it’s unfortunate that many government and international relations fields are divorced from technology, but given my own experience in corporate, I think this is more due to aversion from the generational gap than the uselessness of technology. If the working world doesn’t use technology, then I would like to think that it’s better that the next generation of leaders are at least trained to know how to use it for its benefits rather than just duplicate the existing working conditions.

      • Anonymous

        We have strong opinions on tech, but the good far outweighs the tbad. The issue now a days is almost luddite in nature. Many kids from all incomes have smart phones. This is from statistics not personal anecdotes. If framed in the proper context as mentioned above with some trial by fire tech can do so many things. More later but thanks BD for bringing this up.

        R Timberlake MCHS

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7411139 Mike Imbrenda

        1.) Awards are the main incentive to have people actually participate in Model UN. The main criticisms I hear of the European styles of MUN is that no awards and an emphasis on collaboration (to include not discussing funding issues) basically creates a bunch of lofty ideas that are not grounded in policy or budgetary constraints. Awards at least somewhat prevent something crazy from happening like the US delegate deciding that Palestine should immediately become a state or China declaring Tibet independent because one student decides to botch the debate. And ultimately, the staffs of most conferences come from the wealthy schools and as much as you might think setting up an awards policy will ameliorate the situation, it will ultimately be left up to the subjective designs of a few individuals on how best to enforce/weigh said policies in their awards.

        2.) The reason those socio-developmental issues aren’t solved is that they are inherently political issues whose policies need to be represented accurately by the delegates. Some polices don’t work because corrupt governments want to control the majority of the funding (either for elite capture or to reward allies), others know that true economic reform will undermine their grip on power, others are vehemently opposed to women’s rights or climate change policies (the Saudi Arabia’s of the world). While this issues may be complex, that are complex because governments have vested interests in the success and failures of these programs based on their worldviews and leadership. Governments routinely have reason to lie about their development statistics, HIV/AIDS rates, and carbon footprint. If Model UNers are coming up with feasible ideas that can contend with policy constraints that could work on a large scale in real life, then they should not be working in Model UN.

        3.) I am skeptical. Increasing the amount of technological reliance in MUN basically opens the door to even more subtle manipulation (like in the real world) by a student with tech savy (i.e. hacking.) You end up with needing staff members whose sole job is to play technology police. Ultimately, most folks today are so inundated with technology that MUN is one of the few places where people can learn essential interpersonal skills like negotiation(hostile or not), charm (convincing the middle to be on your side), and public speaking (seriously, I think its safe to say most MUNers are pretty nerdy and that MUN has brought alot of people out of their shells, like myself, allowing people to sit in their shell and do everything virtually is poor for personal development). Being able to convey a complex notion verbally (and convincingly) will always be a more useful skill then distilling it down to 120 characters or putting it on a power point slide.

        And in my experience, the US foreign policy apparatus is mainly run by 25-40 year olds. Its not a generational thing, its a realization that digital communications typically makes people overall nastier, less prone to cooperation, and makes everything take longer. Its really easy to completely disregard @GhanaMUN as a person with good ideas (even if she is in the same room as you, because psychologically, you are yelling at the screen in front of you), its much harder to do so when its Susie, the delegate representing Ghana, who is sitting across the table from you. Its way easier and more efficient to talk it out then let 150 people tweet up a storm.

        P.S. I am 23 and just got a smart phone 3 months ago. Most kids I know in my neighborhood have never actually seen an iPhone outside of a store.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

          1. Although most of us who did Model UN in the competitive circuit may think of a conference not having awards as a criticism, other conferences (including some American ones) will criticize the conferences we attend as overly competitive and for creating a culture where students primarily do Model UN for awards rather than a greater purpose (e.g. learning). I think both sides have merits to their philosophies and arguments, and I also think that awards and learning aren’t mutually exclusive. I also don’t think awards are the key to preventing people from going off-policy because I see it all the time at conferences that give out awards. But I do think awards policies have an impact on whether laptops are seen as competitive advantages or as tools to supplement learning within committee. Ultimately like you said, it is up to the Secretariat of each conference to decide what type of environment they want to create.

          2. Yes there are policy constraints to resolving issues, but I don’t see how that would be changed in Model UN with the introduction of laptops. Even if Security Council delegates had laptops to pull up the latest facts or data on Syria to challenge Russia and could’ve worked collaboratively on a resolution, I’d still expect Russia to veto it. That’s what happened in real life. But in terms of the learning process (different than learning outcome), I would think that laptops would aid in a more rigorous debate in committee.

          3. I agree all the skills you mentioned are very important and I would imagine that they’d still be the primary focus of committee. If used appropriately, I don’t think laptops would take away from delegates learning those essential leadership skills. Rather, if laptops are meant to be an educational tool, then they would be used to supplement debate and chairs would need to properly manage its usage from the perspective of an educator.

          For example, having a debate through twitter would be highly ineffective and no one does this in the working world. But if someone just made a speech to a room of 200 delegates and could instantly see feedback or brief comments on his/her speech on a publicly displayed twitter feed, I think it’d make for a much better and more efficient committee experience. You could see who supports or disagrees you, has similar ideas, the flaws in your arguments, and who wants to work with you during caucus. It eliminates all the note passing, frustrations of not being called on despite having a good response, and some of the inefficiencies of not being able to find people you want to work with during caucus (different than not being able to figure out who you want to work with). Again, technology use would need to stop there — ultimately the delegate will still need to negotiate with others in person in order to resolve the issue. I just think technology makes finding that person easier and figuring out that person’s opinions faster.

        • Arthur Shin

          Heya Mike. About that first comment about how awards are the only incentive to do MUN and how the European MUN system (THIMUN) is flawed. As a person who has taken part in these ‘flawed’ (as you say) conferences, I have to say all your saying is just wrong… (not diplomatic, but gotta be frank no?). THIMUN doesn’t have awards. So what? MUN can be done for just the pleasure of doing MUN. If there are awards, its just an additional thing. As a person who’s done 32 or so conferences, awards are DEFINITELY not my incentive. You can argue that I shouldn’t be able to argue on the basis of a single case. However, knowing tons of THIMUN participants, awards are meaningless. Its the spirit of working together and enjoying the experience. I don’t know if its because your from the ‘competitive’ MUN circuit in America, but if you go to MUN just for awards, then you shouldn’t be in MUN in the first place. Secondly, yes we do not talk about financial aspects of our solutions for a myriad of reasons.
          1. Some students are not very financially aware
          2. It is hard to estimate how much it will actually cost to implement
          3. It ties down our creativity. Creativity is the key to our future Mike. If we tie it down at such a young age (high schools still young mate), we are killing our future.
          Oh, and another thing I want to ‘disprove’. Not everyone talks about absurd things such as US deciding Palestine’s immediate statehood. You are talking on the basis of a singular case, which as a debater, you should know is a very bias and horrible reason to use as a point. Also, we’re high school kids. Don’t you think that it is a part of us to be ‘rowdy’ and enjoy a bit of fun?

          P.S. From merely a sophomore with five years of MUN experience.

          🙂

  • Anonymous

    As the co-developer of the first online Model UN program, I have to disagree with a number of the criticisms laid out in several responses to this article, and perhaps Best Delegate’s finest (and reposted to our own O-MUN network of delegates!). Having worked within non-competitive MUN programs for most of my career, I do disagree strongly that somehow awards are the prime motivator for MUN participation. I think there is a large financial/environmental incentive to get rid of paper, or to become as paperless as possible. I also feel strongly that a number of skills embodied in the technologies described by Kevin are becoming the norm in many workplaces.

    As an educator I something far more powerful occurring in conference/lobbying/debate that incorporates large amounts of technology. The growing prevalence of collaborative, global, synchronous and asynchronous academic endeavors can simply be stated as a paradigm shift within education and work in general. I think it is shortsighted for programs like MUN to not develop a set of best practices that embraces technology.

    Perhaps if the competition was taken out of MUN the collaborative and transformative outcomes could positively impact real world solutions and policies. At the very least, technology’s strengths could be used as yet another important tool mastered by MUN delegates, instead of being seen as some kind of unfortunate competitive advantage.

    I would end with this thought. If technology enables delegates from remote and underdeveloped communities to be part of the debate on larger, global issues and their solutions, then technology can and should be viewed as the greatest innovation in MUN since its inception. I know that our participants in Somalia feel this to be the case. I would hope that MUN delegates would lead the charge in inclusive, innovative and practical uses of technology instead of being threatened by it.

    • Anonymous

      The fight on competition and complete educational experience has been around for a long time. Awards are an incentive to try harder and do the necessary work, but they can be an ugly bane when misapplied by conferences, students and or advisors. However, when used to recognize true preparation, work ethic and policy for all delegates and not just a miserly few then awards are appropriate.

      Education is great but altruism has definite limits too. If schools are not properly led and conferences simplistically ran then education is an exercise in mockery of real people facing real events. Some will learn due to the opportunity but many will not. The effort required for a serious learning experience will all to fall by the wayside due to a lack of structure.

      Perhaps the old school implementation of a “credentials committee” should be looked at once again. As with everything though, it too was dropped for serious flaws.

  • http://awayshegoes.net/ delia

    My issue with tweeting is that it is usually public, unless you dm, whereas notes are not. sure, there is the risk someone will open your note, but if anyone sees them doing it they lose credibility. forming a coalition with some degree of secrecy is key to these simulations.

    the problem with saying all technology adds to debate is that you’re assuming all delegates will get the advantages of the information found by those holding the technology, which is patently untrue. some delegates just fact-check those without technology, waiting for them to make a mistake. also, let’s face it, if you have the word processor you are the primary author. your policy will go further and you will receive most of the credit.

    i think your reading of how delegates choose to use technology is naive. the reason we worry the kid with the laptop will win is that they so often do. of course, nothing will help a student who is unprepared or cannot speak in public, but if it comes down to two similar delegates, the one with the most technology will win.

    also, i fail to understand how a student passing notes looks distracted, but one tweeting away on a smart phone doesn’t.

    in general i’m pro-technology in model programs, but i think limiting it (to the hallway and unmods, for example) can limit the distraction as well as one student’s ability to run away with the committee because of a piece of technology.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368031882 Colin Mark

    Hi Best Delegate,

    I have been closely following many of the recent articles on the blog, and I have noticed a trend that I feel deserves to be addressed in its own article: MUN as an academic competition v. MUN as a learning experience. I personally feel that MUN as an academic competition is in and of itself a learning experience, but the division has apparently been made, with the assumption that MUN as an academic competition is a deficiency of the current system.

    I would love to see the matter addressed directly: what are the pros and cons of awards, and what would change in MUN if awards were taken out, particularly at conferences known for being competitive, like HMUN.

    There has been a lot of begging the question in this particular debate (if you look at the other comments on this article, someone advocating for each side said something to the effect of, “If you disagree, you should not be doing Model UN.”). I think this debate needs to come out of the comments and directly into an article.

    Once again, thank you for everything your blog has done to centralize Model UN.

    Colin Mark

    • http://bestdelegate.com/ Ryan Villanueva

      Hi Colin — Thanks for your suggestion, and for reading Best Delegate. I agree that it’s about time we address this issue directly in its own article. As a starting point, I believe the larger question to address is “What should Model UN teach?”

      This question is relevant to everyone in the Model UN community, from the conference organizer who has to decide what committees/topics to simulate, whether/how to give out awards, and what the conference’s laptop/technology policy should be, to the teacher/head delegate who has to train his/her students/delegates.

      With regard to this competitive vs. educational distinction that we’ve made on Best Delegate, we’re asking this question in the context of awards. I don’t think it’s one or the other, competitive or educational — I think it’s more of a spectrum — and I believe that a conference’s awards policy (which includes not having awards) should promote the conference’s educational philosophy/goal.

      There’s a lot more that I want to say on this — and I’m sure many in the Model UN community have strong opinions — so I’ll save that for a full-length article.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368031882 Colin Mark

        Hi Ryan,

        Great! I’m looking forward to the article! I think framing the question as “What should Model UN teach” really gets at the heart of the issue; I believe that apologists for awards in Model UN are really apologists for a certain kind of learning experience, one with a much greater focus on how to be a politician.

        Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/jtoddles Jackie Todd

    I couldn’t agree more with Mike’s points. (#2 made me feel like vomiting and I actually like using twitter.) Aside from being economically discriminatory, especially in the assumption that everyone is carrying a smartphone –so very much not the case– but allowing laptop use would not only create an issue of where the delegates focus will be (over half will be facebooking in the back of the room and you know it) but also de-emphasize the important lesson model UN teaches in forcing delegates to work with the information they came in with and the information given to think creatively. This is a skill set that cannot be gotten anywhere else and tarnishing it with giving them constant use of technology will throw it away in favor of information overload. I believe that a person should have the right to over research a topic all they want but that’s not what Model UN is about.

    • Anonymous

      The reality: facebookers, netflix, angry brid back benchers have always been there. Conferences do little to remove these pariah’s from committee. Worse advisors willingly bring these people and DO NOT hold them accountable or remove them either. This arguement is the usual tail wages the dog. This is not a reason for limiting tech.

      RTimberlake

  • Matthew Hipple

    All other points aside, this will lead to laziness. The lack of preparation is already bad enough with everyone going off policy to create an unrealistic utopia of policy-agreement. With constant access to wikipedia, no one will do any research… ever. MUN is supposed to encourage people to learn something, not google search every new topic as it comes up.

    • Anonymous

      Prep is always a battle and there is too much info out there for someone to pull it out of thin air during a conference. The real successful delegates start prep at lest two weeks before. If someone pulls it out of thin air then they will embaress themselves (another lesson) by misinterpretting facts,i.e. Zambia can no more act lik eSweden.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jensfis Jens Flscher

    A really neccessary article! Model UN needs more technology.

    We have already applied some of those techniques at our DuEMUN conference. Our experiences with paperless resolution writing are detailed here:
    http://www.duemun.de/2010/06/17/using-etherpad-for-mun-working-papers/

    This is an example that you can use to see the changes to a document as they occurred.
    http://duemun.titanpad.com/ep/pad/view/ro.6Q9qnpV/rev.5006?

    You can observe delegates dumping huge parts of documents so you can catch pre-written resolutions to an extent. You can also track collaboration in more ways as you can both see delegates write their documents in the committee and track who writes what.

    We did try microblogging alá Twitter for notes but it did not catch on with delegates. We expect it to work once smartphones and tablets are universally adopted by all delegates.

    We did have laptop pools and lend out machines but we found that only few delegates will ever do the typing and so we do not consider that idea a great success.

    Jens

    • Anonymous

      Twitter has potential, but interestingly the noisey tweets are an issue. Twitter can not only work committees but also can be used for one’s delegation as a whole during a conference.

      R Timberlake

      • http://www.facebook.com/jensfis Jens Flscher

        Noise is really a problem. That is why we used an identi.ca based solution that we hosted ourselves. We had planned to use it as a journal of activities of sorts but the MUN world is not yet ready for this stuff yet 🙂

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Big thanks for sharing your experiences on tech as a conference organizer. It’s good to see what worked and what didn’t.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jensfis Jens Flscher

        Much obliged. I also missed something earlier. We have really fallen in love with Skype. We use it to have committee staff communicate with the central staff and vice versa (mostly calls for more coffee for some reason 🙂 ) and to patch in “experts” via audio or video feed during crisis simulations.

  • Anonymous

    Tech in MUN, an issue that has been debated since laptops appeared in the late 1990’s. The issue now a days is more about the proper place of tech than accessibility. Technology is a great catalyst for debate, policy, substance, and accountability. BTW this accountability would also included chairs, especially for topic, policy and parliamentary rules knowledge. Any conference at any hotel has the ability to employ Wifi, SSUNS for example does this. NAIMUN and other major conferences with a working budget of 230K can easily afford conference Wifi. Any major campus conference, BMUN to name one, has wifi for ALL their students. Many MUN teams have their schools wired now. Tech is already here and will be only getting stronger.

    Tablets, Smart phones, I phones, laptops, wireless printers, conference computer labs….. tools tools tools. Google Docs, twitter, QR codes, turnitin, instantaneous correct info at ones finger tips, immediate policy checking, NGO verification, infrastructure checks, economic fact checks, day of or current quotes and statements from gov’ts and leaders. This transforms MUN from sophomoric rhetorical roll playing to roll play in correct policy, background and knowledge. This also means we can actually judge people by correct use of empirical data and presence ! As originally intended in MUN by its creators. Tech will also help stop the endemic prewritten / plagiarized resolutions that besiege High school and College MUN circuits.

    Unfair advantage…. Doubtful. At the moment only one person can write resolutions or amendments as it is. Whether the scribe or author, there is only one source available for writing resolutions. As BD stated more delegates can work together. More delegates can email/ dropbox / use Docs, parts of resolutions to each other during committee to combine into the final product. They can do this quietly at all times while committee is in session. Delegates can also easily identify their contributions to the effort vs the magical 31 operatives by a solo sponsor. The potential for efficiency, integrity and streamlining the process is obvious and dare I say brilliant.

    BTW an easily checked fact that defies “common knowledge” or word of mouth. In Sub Saharan Africa there are 151 million cell phones used by 84% of population.

    R Timberlake
    MCHS MUN

  • Anonymous

    Hi BD,

    This is really great article and when i read it i thought of my country and how it will help a lot of students/delegates to participate in Model UN. When it comes to “What should Model UN teach” to a lot of friends, students and delegates the answer is cooperation, commitment, spirit of working together with a diverse people and knowledge sharing then being “competitive.” One good example is me if i couldn’t get the chance of participating THIMUN with the help of technology while staying in my country which may be most of you doesn’t know if it exists or not i couldn’t get the chance of experiencing Model UN.

    The most amazing part of THIMUN is not about gaining awards but is about gaining knowledge and sharing experience in real time with the help of technology which gave the hope to students even from “Somaliland” to participate, be heard and to present their views on issues that matter. Financial factor can be there as in every where but HOPE is always there.

    To sum up, If Model UN is supposed to bring future leaders as RYAN said then technology should be considered which will also give a chance to students who can’t afford to participate conferences can at least participate online.

  • http://service.ztronics.com/laptop-lcd-screen-repair.html sony laptop screen repair

    Well nice article and i too think that Model UN needs more technology…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380960043 Robert Townley

    This is one of the most relevant and useful articles I’ve seen on BD. Very well done (the comments have also been great.)

    Speaking from a techie perspective, the idea of simultaneously giving out login credentials for the wireless network to a horde of 1500 kids is a surefire way to bring down any hotel’s network. Without some serious speed and a commercial router, I don’t think a conference feasibly CAN give internet to a large group of kids (less delegates at a small conference will lessen the problem, but keep in mind that smaller conferences tend to not have networks designed to handle the load of a major hotel chain.) Conference organizers trying to implement this should be very wary of trying to put more than 10 people onto a standard router at once.

    They could still make use of non-internet applications, but then we’re back to talking about it as a typing tool and not as a way of collaborating.

  • Pingback: Politics, Business, and Technology: 3 Takeaways from the Chicago International Model United Nations Conference (CIMUN)()

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