Thursday, 28 February 2013

101questions: crowd sourcing perplexity

I've followed Dan Meyer { @ddmeyer | dy/dan } for a while now. Here's his bio blurb from his blog:


I'm Dan Meyer. I taught high school math between 2004 and 2010 and I am currently studying at Stanford University on a doctoral fellowship. My hobbies include graphic design, filmmaking, motion graphics, and infographics, most of which have found their way into my practice in some way or another. My specific interests include curriculum design (answering the question, "how we design the ideal learning experience for students?") and teacher education (answering the questions, "how do teachers learn?" and "how do we retain more teachers?" and "how do we teach teachers to teach?"). I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dan has an excellent blog, but is also involved in many web projects as well. One such project caught my eye because of his tweets. Every once in a while he'd tweet a link and ask something along the lines of, "What's the first question that pops into your head when you see this?". This intrigued me. I would click on the link and be taken to 101questions. It looks something like this:

I would type in the first question that came to mind and click submit. I then get to ask a question about the next photo or video. Also, if I no question comes to mind, or item just isn't that interesting, I have the option to skip it.
This is pretty fun on its own, well at least for me, but Dan is using this to collect/create engaging and perplexing activators.
Here's how the project is described on its webstie:
We don’t care how well you lecture. We don’t care how well you engage us. We aren’t impressed by your fancy slide transitions or your interactive whiteboard. We care how well you perplex us.
Can you perplex us? Can you show us something that’ll make us wonder a question so intensely we’ll do anything to figure out the answer, including listen to your lecture or watch your slides? Here’s one way to find out. Upload a photo or a video. Find out how many of us get bored and skip it. Find out how many of us get perplexed and ask a question.
Then figure out what you’re going to do to help us answer it.
Your Students 
 I thought this was a great idea and can relate to the feeling of seeing something and just needing to know how it works, so I joined the site. I haven't put much on yet, but I've already learned some things.

  • It's called 101 questions because each post is capped at 101 questions. You ask a question about your post when you upload it and the post is capped at 100 further questions, well more like interactions. Both asking a question and skipping a question count as an interaction. The number of questions out of 100 interactions is what determines the posts perplexity. If no question comes to mind for 100 people and you get 100 skips, chances are students aren't going to be intrigued if you use that photo or video in class.
  • The question you have in mind for a particular post may not come to anyone else when they see it. This allows you to get a broader perspective and gauge what types of questions your students would be asking themselves.
This site is fun and a great way we can work together to improve our classrooms. Thanks, Dan!

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