The Great Question…and Answer!

27 Apr 2010

By guest blogger Chad Jones (@senojc76)
iCafe Blog

One of the biggest struggles in education, or any large group setting for that matter, is how do you insure that the really important questions get asked.  The traditional method of getting questions asked is the “hand raised” method, in which you call on the hands that get raised.  This random approach getting questions asked works, but it isn’t terribly efficient, and unless you have time to get to every raised hand, there is no way to insure that you got the most important questions answered.  And that doesn’t even cover the situation of the question that someone is too shy to raise a hand for asking!  It might be a great question, but if the one who thought of it is too intimidated to ask it, it just stays in their head unanswered!

The solution:

Thankfully, the great minds at Google have helped us out again with the online program Google Moderator.

Google Moderator serves as a simple question or idea housing center. Have a question? Put it up on the Moderated page.  It then shows up on the page for all in the session to see. You can even post questions anonymously, so for the shy student, this is a great way to get their voice heard! To check out a simple example from a principal’s meeting, click here!

Not just questions:

The great thing about Google Moderator though, is that it isn’t just about asking questions or putting out ideas. Through Moderator, users can vote on the questions that they think are really great questions.

By looking through the list, you can vote for a question that you’ve been wondering about…or just realized you should be wondering about!…but also, you can vote against a question that you really don’t feel needs to be asked.  Google Moderator then goes through and ranks the questions live, allowing the moderator of the session to see the most important questions first, and then work down the list!

To take it a step forward, there is even the capability of adding responses to questions, so as you go through, you can add answers to help students go back and refresh themselves on the answer later!

How can you use it?

So how can you start using this in your classroom today? Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Create a weekly moderator session in your math class, allowing students to post questions from their homework each night with which they struggled.  Students can agree or disagree with the questions they struggled with and it helps the teacher know which problems to focus on the next day during warm-up.
  • Create a list of hypotheses for a science experiment and allow students to vote on which they think is the best.
  • Give students an interview project and allow them to work in Google Moderator to define which are the best questions to ask.

Google Moderator truly answers the great question of the classroom and we hope you jump in there and start getting your questions answered!  For more ideas on using technology in your classroom, be sure to check out more of resources and blog entries on the iCafe Blog!