Using Etherpad for MUN Working Papers

After introducing MUNS, the Open Source Speakers List manager, DuEMUN has continued to pioneer the use of software to enhance the Model UN experience.

At this year’s DuEMUN VI we have successfully piloted a paperless Working Paper System based on Etherpad.
Etherpad is a free, open source collaborative writing platform that allows users to change and perceive changes to documents in real time.

Paperless Working Paper System Prototype

The usual Working Paper process at Model UN simulations produces a lot of paper for various drafts. In the writing process, multiple users gather around a single laptop and try to debate the paper as a single delegate types.

Especially for larger MUNs this is troublesome and inconvenient. Working Papers also tend to fork into different versions that not all previous participants are aware of. The typical example being late night writing sessions at NMUN.

With Etherpad, this process changes dramatically. Delegates are not forced to gather around a single laptop to read or contribute to a Working Paper. Printouts of several versions are also no longer required. Delegates will always be able to review the most recent version and, by using the time slider, all previous versions of the document.

Our delegates in the G20 developed a completely new type of caucus(within an ordinary unmoderated caucus) due to this system. The Etherpad document was projected to the wall and a single delegate “chaired” the changes that were made by multiple participants from their own computers in real time.

A single setback was observed. As we do not allow delegates to use laptops in formal session, so they could not review the document while debating it. This might be remedied by either allowing delegates to use their computers (but block internet access) or by using computerized exam rooms instead. Another workable solution might be to switch to NMUN style Working Paper handling that moves much of the debate to Draft Resolutions.

We will further experiment with the Etherpad plattform and our delegates can expect it to become a regular feature of DuEMUN Conference.