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Single integrated question-asking & lesson feedback system to encourage "timid" learners and help teachers rapidly respond to concerns

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I am a.....

  • Organization
  • Highly motivated uncle to amazing young learners and future world leaders!

Tell us about your idea

The idea that I’ve developed after getting insights from current students (my nieces and nephews) is:

THE CURIOSITY CONDUIT (name still in development ;)

A single system that can be easily integrated into any existing learning platform. This system has the objective of encouraging and enabling active question-asking during a lesson from all students – both the typically active as well as other more “timid” learners. Features of this system include

  • Easy-to-access (but not distracting) window that accompanies all active lessons
  • Window allows for anonymous questions to be typed by students during the lessons. Integrated functionality also includes voice-to-text to allow students to rapidly raise their questions even if they don’t have full comfort in typing their questions
  • Option exists for questions to be hidden from other students’ view, or for all questions to be viewable by all students. Option also exists for teacher to answer the questions during the lesson or after the lesson
  • If the questions are to be answered following the lesson, the integrated system also enables teachers to quickly categorize and group questions. Integrated system then allows the teacher and/or a teacher’s aide to address groups of questions via recorded video following the lesson

My fellow collaborators of amazing future leaders agrees that the above solution can be developed to integrate with any platform and will provide a *universal* functionality that results in a common experience for all students. My team recognized that the problem of students not feeling comfortable about asking questions during lessons is a really big issue with virtual learning – additionally, they recognize that teachers may be frustrated with not having enough feedback during lessons. This solution will address both of these challenges at the same time – as such, my team hopes this kind of solution would be embraced by all stakeholders in the learning system!

More about the problem from my team's perspective: "Timid" learners are often reluctant to ask questions even in the pre-covid "physical" classroom. The virtual learning environment exacerbates this issue significantly. In fact, virtual learning platforms lack an effective and efficient way for *any* student to raise a question or concern during a lesson, much less “timid” learners. The result is that no student really feels comfortable speaking up if they have a question and the teacher lacks any feedback or sense for whether their students are understanding a lesson. And while some platforms do have some sort of “discussion board” function, that’s not the right place for students to raise questions during a lesson. Additionally, some schools and districts have made direct email available between students and teachers. But – “timid” learners may still be reluctant to use this option, and it also misses the opportunity to raise a question immediately when the concern or confusion arises.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

To put it succinctly, I think that any part of the pre-COVID system that caused any hesitation on the part of students to ask questions needs to disappear permanently! We may be faced with a unique opportunity to - with certain systems, technology, and just a new framing of the classroom - really encourage the most "timid" of learners to ask questions when they're confused or uncertain about something. More frequent, robust, and open question-asking not only benefits the students' learning overall but also gives the teacher a better gauge of concepts small and large that the students may not yet be comprehending.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

Professionally I'm an independent consultant - a capacity-builder for social entrepreneurs, under-represented small business owners, and nonprofit leaders. I guide changemakers through the process of market evaluation, solution testing, and customer acquisition for new products & services that make a difference in communities.

Personally I'm a dedicated uncle to six amazing young people (five of whom are of school age). It's through discussions with my nieces and nephews and other conversations with parents and educators that I have benefited from a very real and transparent perspective on how education is really stumbling in the "new reality." It of course pains me to see the frustrating experience my nieces and nephews have had, but it pains me even more to imagine how frustrating it may be for students who are under-resourced or who already struggled in the pre-COVID education system and who are likely really struggling now (and who will slip disastrously if the system doesn't improve on their behalf!). 

This idea evolved directly from open-ended conversations I had with my nieces and nephews, digging into the details of their experience and even solicited ideas from them on how to solve it!  This is truly an idea developed by students for students!

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I'm located in the Northern Virginia area in a suburb of Washington, DC. The metropolitan area of Washington, DC, is among the most diverse nationally measured in nearly every category - income, race, ethnicity, immigration status, etc. The diversity of the communities is matched by the diversity of education systems and options for students and families. This can be a double-edged sword of course - offering a variety of options can allow many students the opportunity to get the right education for them, but may also leave some students limited to education opportunities that pale in comparison to their peers who may live in the next block over.


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