Wicked Problem: “Solved”

Created on Adobe Photoshop
Created on Adobe Photoshop

Failure is part of success. Failure prompts us back to the drawing board, and fosters discovery. Failure is simply one step in the long process of problem solving, innovating and creating.

This is what my MAET group believed when we began our Wicked Problem project. The NMC Horizon Project (2013) called Wicked Problems: “issues that are extremely difficult and even seemingly impossible to solve because of the complex or ever-changing environments in which they arise” (p. 1).

We wanted to find a solution for the problem allow failure to be as powerful a learning mode as success. We found immediately that the problem was in the way people viewed failure. Failure is often seen as an ending with a negative outcome. We argue that failure is in fact part of the problem solving process, and it leads to discovery, and ultimately, success.

As described in my initial Wicked Problem Blog, solving this wicked problem wasn’t easy. My incredible team members, Becky, Rosie and Taylor, helped me to process and problem solve on several different platforms over the last few weeks. We worked together using Google DocsVoxer, and Zoom to discuss the approaches we’d researched. We collaborated on Blendspace, keeping our ideas and final products organized.

In our initial conversations, we decided that inquiry-based learning was the most viable solution. We additional investigated the use of a flipped learning model, and standards-based reporting. After Becky and Taylor attended a round-table discussion with other classmates, we were given feedback that forced us to change our approach. We found that while the flipped model is malleable, most teachers still think of the original intent, which was to simply digitize lectures. Our classmates suggested hybrid or blended learning as a better “solution” to our problem. We then came up with the concept of a Flexible Flipped approach, which encourages teachers to flip in the ways they see fit, when they see fit.

In his book, The Anti-Education ERA, James Paul Gee (2013) says: “Humans need to feel like agents whose actions count and who have a chance of success or impact…they cannot feel as if what they do does not matter, does not count, or will never really work” (p. 211). We believe that in using the Flexible Flip, and SBR, teachers will encourage students to problem solve, and gain skills, not just memorize facts and figures. We believe that this problem solving, in turn will encourage failure as part of a bigger process.

In the process of our project, we went through failure to ultimately discover the best approach to spreading our message. After accidentally deleting the infographic, I had to completely recreate it. Rosie struggled with the mash-up and ultimately had to use an alternate program. Taylor found that on our original Blendspace, the Google Drive wasn’t updating. Becky, in editing our draft, found several citations that were in the works cited but left out of our white paper. We all failed. We all continued to persevere, and find solutions to our problems. Failure was part of our process, and ultimately it made our final product better.

Our final Blendspace Curation includes five critical pieces. We included our Tagul word cloud, which was created by importing key words from our essay into a light-bulb cloud. We also added our infographic, which breaks down the problem visually. To incorporate our discussions, we’ve added our multimodal mash-up, which shows key points in discussion and discovery. Finally, we included both the NMC communique, where we drew our inspiration, and our White Paper Proposal.

As any true Wicked Problem is never solved, we encourage your feedback. As Gee says, one mind is not enough to solve a hard problem, we need a community of Minds to find success.

Credit to:

Gee, J. (2013). The Anti-Education ERA: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (First Ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

New Media Consortium (2013). The Horizon Project. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/horizon-project

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