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I used to fly kites. Now I grow vegetables, teach chemistry and try to convince people (myself included) that spending time online is productive.

Looking to fairy tales for help crowd sourcing peer instruction questions

2 min read

I am told blogging can help to distil an idea. Coming from an academic background I am very comfortable with the idea of a blog as a form of publication. But since I don't have the time or inclination to properly cite and cross reference this piece I don't think it really qualifies. It's still me musing... But musing that I'd love to hear your comments on.

I am honoured to be following Eric Mazur at the Turning Technologies User Conference tomorrow. But if your message is flip to facilitate peer instruction what's going to be left to say when the great man has taken his bow? I've chosen to focus on where to source those concept-probing questions that sit in the not too hard, not too easy, sweetspot. It's not unreasonable to expect a group of student on a common course to compose questions fit for their peers. But how do you illustrate that process for a disparate bunch with nothing more than a love of clickers in common? If I am being generous I could describe the idea of expanding upon the "not too easy not too hard" Goldilocks zone as the inspiration for using the Fairy Tale genre as common ground. Of course all the usual rules of a good peer instruction question apply, it must explore concepts and not be simply answered by recalling a detail of the fairy tale.

Inevitably I turned to Twitter for help and critique and created the hashtag . @tinaoverton and @grahamscott14 have cautioned on assumptions of familiarity and the pitfalls of over familiarity. 

So what might such a question look like?

Which one of the three little pigs built the most environmentally sustainable house?

a) First little pig (straw)

b) Second little pig (wood)

c) Third little pig (brick)

Of course there's no definitively right answer to this question, there doesn't need to be. The point of the question is just to kick start an exploration of the concepts: renewability, insulation, lifetime.