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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Continuing Thoughts on Questions

I've actually found the BigQ this month - What Questions Should We be Asking? - to be really interesting, but not quite the way that I expected. You can see a list of questions gathered by Dave Lee a few days ago at: I really like how Dave provided a "When" column that showed that the questions included things to be asked during needs assessment or are macro questions. What you quickly see if you just scan that column is that the question types are all over the place.

What I was hoping to see as part of the process were questions that:
"offered a fantastic opportunity for discussion and understanding of the subject."

Part of my expectation is that I'm not sure if there are any interesting discussions and understanding anymore around a topic like "designing and building courseware." Are the issues really well understood? Or is there some debate question or challenge that people face today? For example, five years ago I presented and wrote articles (1, 2) on the design choices in creating software simulation eLearning. At the time, this was relatively new and not well understood. Now if you pick up a copy of Captivate, you'll find that most of the design ideas are incorporated in the product. So, the question about what design choices you have in Software Simulation eLearning is no longer interesting.

If you read my blog, you know that I was just lamenting Is the Big Question Half-Full or Half-Empty? basically saying that I wasn't sure I was getting much value from the questions. Luckily I just saw Action on Informal Learning - Leads to Great Questions and then I read and had a brief back and forth with Jacob McNulty around his post What’s in a Question? Our Future. Jacob points out that questions that point us forward are the ones we likely want to focus on. We also discussed that likely every questions has a number of levels to it or a tree.

I was also pointed to How to Ask Questions the Smart Way by a discussion on TrDev. While the focus is asking questions in a discussion list and is more focused on specific, technical issues, it contains some wonderful information about how to ask better questions.

So, what I've been really learning is what I personally find more compelling about certain questions and a bit about asking better questions (but I still need lots of help).

Of course, the net of a lot of this discussion around questions should be to help find important questions, with real challenges, that will have interesting discussions, and will help generate understanding - OH, and that I can use for future Big Questions or as part of a group discussion in a panel or at a morning breakfast table at a conference.

I'm going to need to go back through the questions to see what works in this context. But, I certainly have got value in understanding more about what I'm really looking for. Now I could probably write a much better Big Question that asked this question. :)

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