Project Better Questions

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Better Questions:
A practice Activity for learning Teachers

Summer 2023

Challenge: Within a virtual training developed for adult professionals in education-based careers, evaluation of the training revealed a missing element of clarity and practice when it came to learners defining and forming proper questions as used in key-concept protocols, namely “probing questions” which were intended to stir deeper contemplation rather than provide suggestions. Because the virtual training had lesser meeting time than the traditional on-site training, some discussion and practice time had been eliminated, and elements used in the virtual setting — breakout rooms, assigned readings, and informative lecture-type videos — did not seem to address the topic in a way that held attention and offered enough time to build clarity.

Scripted SCENARIOS in Genially

Addressing this challenge called for the investigation of alternative ways to share information and allow for asynchronous practice time. We needed an interactive, virtual activity to invite learners to review definitions of “question types.” We wanted them to explore branching scenarios through practice, outside of actual virtual meeting times where learners seemed nervous about making mistakes and being corrected in front of their peers. After deeper analysis of what was needed with training facilitators and subject matter experts (traditional training developers and directors), I created a draft script with a clear learning objective. It consisted of definitions for each question type with examples as well as branching scenarios of educator “characters,” much like training participants, interacting with peers in professional learning community meetings framed using our copyrighted protocols, structured meeting tools through which they sought equitable feedback and support. This allowed learners to choose best possible “answers” (and, in this case, “answers” were actually “questions”!) as they had come to understand each question type used in our protocols.

In this activity, I developed space for practice, exploration, and reflection, beyond basic “graded” right-or-wrong quizzes. Each answer was carefully developed to be a “possibility” — a question educators might hear from their peers in a supportive group setting. Incorrect choices came with gentle explanations to offer deeper understanding. Learners were invited to go back to explore all possibilities.

For this activity, I needed an affordable platform to create the interactive content to fit this small, nonprofit’s budget. We offered our courses through the LMS, LearnWorlds (also a choice made with $$ in mind) but creating the quiz options in the LMS were limiting. I investigated, self-taught, and utilized the online platform I used alongside for brainstorming and mapping. I used Adobe Photoshop for editing photos, and we used Google Docs to share, collaborate, and revise our script.

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BONUS Design Elements!

I was also a core developer and problem-solver for this nonprofit organization as it found itself with no other option but to figure out how to offer its trainings for educators in a virtual platform once the pandemic took hold. Intense connections, collaborations, and face-to-face time was a major boast of their professional development trainings that they did not want to lose. We worked within several limitations to quickly shape the training into something personable and appealing, with the constraints of online learning in mind.  I researched to discover an easy-to-use, affordable, and vibrant course learning management system that could coincide with regular meetings in Zoom. This allowed us to utilize elements such as breakout rooms extensively and effectively. I also helped to create “how-to” learning materials for facilitators who would be required to set up and work within the new LMS to perform as virtual trainers. Check out other materials I created in this process!

Edited and refined videos self-recorded by SMEs

Formal certificates auto-generated with Google forms & extensions

Course template design for virtual trainings