Tuesday, May 03, 2011

How to use WebEx Polling Questions to Promote Deep Learning

I am on a quest to find ways to utilize web conferencing software to create deep learning experiences. The Winter 2011 POD Network News contained a great article by Derek Bruff, “Multiple-Choice Questions You Wouldn’t Put on a Test: Promoting Deep Learning Using Clickers,”  The polling feature in WebEx and clickers will create similar results.  This is how it works: participants respond anonymously which makes it safer to share their perspectives and to take risks; their results are displayed which in turn generates greater interest in discussion as multiple perspectives are revealed.
Bruff (2009-2001) suggests four question types:
1.      One-Best-Answer Question. In this situation, there is more than one defensible answer. Participants are asked to commit to one answer, the results are displayed and a discussion takes place as to why various answers were chosen.
Example: present a short scenario and then pose a question to the group, such as, “select the best option to explain the characters motivation.
2.      Student Perspective Question. Participants are asked to share opinions and personal experiences. These types of questions can help participants personally connect to the content.  When viewing the results they also begin to understand each other a little better and possibly appreciate multiple perspectives.
Example: could ask student views on a current event or to share what type of personal experience they may have had related to the topic.
3.      Misconception Question. A question is chosen that will surface common misconceptions. After the results are displayed, Bruff suggests that participants be given time to discuss in small groups.  The WebEx breakout group feature could be used for this.  After small group discussions, the question is posed again and then a large group discussion takes place around the reasons for and against the various answers.
4.      Peer Assessment Question. Participants are given an opportunity to provide feedback on a fellow participant’s presentation. Anonymous feedback tends to be more honest and constructive and can lead to good discussion regarding discipline standards.
“Based on various definitions for deep learning and what we know about the brain and learning, deep learning involves five traits: (a) focusing on the big picture, the overall meaning, pattern, or principle; (b) connecting new ideas to previous knowledge and personal experience and ultimately fitting these into a coherent whole; (c) linking with internal learning goals; (d) processing actively by being open, creative, and curious; and (e) embracing change, new situations, and multiple perspectives” (Dailey, 2011, p.9). By utilizing questions in this fashion, experiences are created where participants connect new ideas to personal experience and link their learning goals as they think independently in answering the questions.  By seeing the results of the poll, participants are more likely to actively process through discussion and become aware of and appreciate multiple perspectives.
Bruff, D. (2009-2010). Multiple-Choice Questions You Wouldn’t Put on a Test: Promoting Deep Learning Using Clickers. POD Essays on Teaching Excellence.  Accessed May 3, 2011 http://www.podnetwork.org/publications/teachingexcellence/09-10/V21,%20N3%20Bruff.pdf. 
Dailey, B. (2011). Creating Significant Deep Learning Experiences. The Cross Papers Number 14. League for innovations in the Community College.

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