Monday, January 4, 2021

2021 #VWEDU: Digital literacy: Brainstorming online. Can they teach brainstorming in school? Can teams plan a project without brainstorming? Can you teach creativity?

Digital literacy: Brainstorming online. 
Do they teach brainstorming in school?  
Can teams plan a project without brainstorming?
Can you teach creativity?
Draft plan for teaching students how to brainstorm effectively. That is one of the skills needed for creativity in a project.  If you will have them doing projects to learn, help them learn how to do projects. 

Why a virtual world?

  • By virtual world, I mean a user-built and social simulation of a brainstorming environment.
  • Since it is user-built, the teacher can add a project wall.
  • User-built also means that web pages can be displayed in the scene.  
  • Since it is social, each person is represented by a recognizable avatar that has a designated location in the simulated space. 
  • Social further means that the people speak in voice.
  • Social also means that people can type in local text chat.
  • But the main reason is that brainstorming is a social activity
  • Local text chat can be stored and made available to the teacher
  • Thus the teacher does not need to be present at most brainstorming sessions.

Needed resources

  • Project wall anyone can type on.   Contents persist and are seen by the teacher.
  • Bulletin board (BB) that only the recorder can type on.
  • For example, Google Docs and/or A Google Workspace.
  • A learning management system (LMS) should provide support for a project wall.
  • The project wall should carry a clear and concrete statement of the project objective.
  • The objective should  clearly describe the outcome product.
  • It may carry related information or ideas from previous work of the team on from the teacher.
  • All students need contact in voice, video, and text.
  • Voice, video, and local text communication are routinely supplied by virtual worlds.
  • The project wall may have areas for typing by designated participants.
  • Digital teaching assistant (DTA): The Digital Teaching Assistant (DTA) for MUVES (virtual worlds): Summary

Needed digital skills

Brainstorming plan

  • One or more clear statements of the objective are at the top of the project board.
  • These might all be provided by the teacher or experienced teams might add some.
  • Variants:  Abstract and promotional, concrete, narrative.
  • Abstract: description for outsiders.
  • Concrete: description of what you will produce.
  • Narrative: What will happen as you deliver the product.

Brainstorming objective 

  • List all the ways you might meet the objective.
  • Think quantity over quality.  
  • The way to find a good idea is to have lots of ideas to choose from.

Brainstorming rules

  • Any idea is good, however wild it is.
  • Any criticism is out.  (Criticism will kill brainstorming if it persists.)
  • The standard response to criticism is "We save evaluation till later." 
  • Or the criticism may suggest another idea.
  • Every session has a planned start and end time.  

Project wall and BB rules

  • Each person has a panel on the project wall and can write what they want on it.
  • DTA records such entries with names and makes them available to the teacher.
  • Only the recorder can write on the BB (recorder writes to DTA who writes to BB).

Brainstorming roles

  • Certain roles are needed for effective brainstorming. 
  • These roles may be filled spontaneously by experienced participants.
  • But for groups of inexperienced people, it may be good to assign these roles.
  • Teacher may assign these roles via the DTA.  
  • Teacher may seek advice from the team on role assignment.


  • Recorder has exclusive access to the public bulletin board (BB)
  • Task: Put all ideas and nothing else on the BB.
  • May require that the idea be typed into local chat, then copy the idea (with originator's name) onto the BB
  • DTA monitors entries, tracks names, may assess relevance.

Time keeper

  • Call attention to critical times, such as start and end times.
  • Suggest wind-up actions about 10 mins. before end time.  
  • DTA can supply this role


  • Keeps the group on track toward its destination.
  • When the conversation gets off track.
  • DTA coaching:  If entries on BB drop off, DTA asks Helm what the team is discussing.
  • If necessary, DTA suggests a reminder of the topic.


  • Watches quiet people for efforts to speak, interrupts discussion to ask them to speak.
  • DTA coaching: Checks for names not appearing on BB or project wall, asks gatekeeper to check with them.

DTA coaching

General functioning

  • At random times DTA asks a randomly chosen team member this question:
  • "How would you rate the team's progress in the last few minutes: good, average, poor?"
  • Depending on the answer, DTA asks why and what action is recommended.
  • DTA makes these results available to the teacher.
  • Reflection (for teacher and student)
  • Specific DTA functions cited in connection with specific roles: Helm, Gatekeeper, Recorder 

Time keeper

  • Just after the scheduled start time the DTA shows a list of the agenda items and the pending action items. 
  • DTA asks "Where shall we start?"
  • Note:  This is a standard role that should be taken by a group member.  The DTA is modelling the needed action.
  • At about 10 minutes before the end time of the meeting, the DTA notes the time and suggests a start on the meeting report.

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