The Art of Asking the Right Questions: The Connection between Questioning and Innovation

Tara H

Tara H

Mar 15, 20245 min read

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The Art of Asking the Right Questions: The Connection between Questioning and Innovation

Asking the right questions is a skill that is often undervalued in our society. We live in a world where answers are celebrated, but the act of questioning is often overlooked. However, questioning is what enables us to organize our thinking and uncover the information we need to find our way to the next answer. In fact, questioning is so important that a four-year-old child asks as many as 300 questions a day. Unfortunately, as children enter school, this natural curiosity and questioning decline steadily, reaching almost zero by junior high school. It is in schools where we place a high value on answers, but little to no value on asking good questions.

So, why is questioning so crucial for innovation and problem-solving? The answer lies in the fact that questions are often at the root of innovation. When we question the status quo and challenge existing norms, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and ideas. It is through questioning that we can identify gaps, uncover hidden problems, and explore alternative solutions. In this sense, a dumb question, which may seem obvious to others, can often be the smartest question one can ask.

When embarking on any project or endeavor, it can be helpful to start with a naïve question. These are the types of questions we asked as children, before we learned that they were not deemed appropriate or valuable. By acknowledging our lack of knowledge and asking seemingly obvious questions, we can tap into our inherent curiosity and approach problems with fresh perspectives. It is through these naïve questions that we can uncover new insights and push the boundaries of what is possible.

In the realm of education technology (edTech), two concepts that are often discussed are gamification and incentivization. Although they may seem similar, they have distinct differences. Gamification involves incorporating elements unique to games into other mediums, such as education or work. On the other hand, incentivization is the act of rewarding someone for completing a task or achieving a goal.

Gamification can be a powerful tool in edTech, as it has the ability to make boring tasks more engaging and enjoyable. By incorporating game-like elements, such as challenges, levels, and rewards, educators can encourage students to participate in activities they may not have been interested in otherwise. For example, turning household chores into a game, where the goal is to throw laundry into a basket from across the room, can make the task more fun and motivating.

However, there are potential pitfalls to be aware of when implementing gamification in education. One common flaw is the tendency to slap badges onto uninteresting courses or tasks to make them appear more engaging. This approach can backfire if the underlying content remains uninteresting or irrelevant to the students. It is essential to ensure that the gamified elements align with the learning objectives and enhance the overall educational experience.

Another challenge is the need for meaningful progression in gamified systems. Points and point systems can be effective motivators, but there must be something worthwhile for students to build up to. Unlocking different parts of a course, accessing bonus skills, or engaging in mini-games related to the subject matter are examples of how progression can be incorporated. Without meaningful progression, the points lose their value and become mere numbers without purpose.

Leaderboards, another common gamification element, can also pose challenges. While they can foster healthy competition and motivation for some students, they may create anxiety and embarrassment for others. Imagine being the student with the lowest score displayed prominently on the leaderboard. This can be demoralizing and discourage students from participating. It is crucial to consider the potential negative effects of leaderboards and ensure that they are implemented in a way that promotes a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

Incorporating incentivization into edTech can complement gamification efforts. By offering rewards for completing tasks or achieving goals, students can feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation. However, it is essential to strike a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Students should feel that their responses and contributions are making an impact, rather than merely being tested or rewarded for the sake of it.

In conclusion, the art of asking the right questions is a fundamental skill that can drive innovation and problem-solving. By embracing our natural curiosity and asking naïve questions, we can uncover new insights and approach challenges from fresh perspectives. In the realm of education technology, gamification and incentivization can enhance the learning experience and make it more engaging. However, it is crucial to ensure that these elements are implemented thoughtfully, with a focus on meaningful progression and a supportive learning environment.

Actionable advice:

1. Embrace your inner child and ask naïve questions. Challenge assumptions and explore new possibilities by approaching problems with fresh perspectives.

2. When implementing gamification in education, ensure that the gamified elements align with the learning objectives and enhance the overall educational experience.

3. Consider the potential negative effects of leaderboards and ensure that they are implemented in a way that promotes a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

By combining the insights from questioning and the concepts of gamification and incentivization, we can create a more engaging and effective educational experience. So, let's embrace the art of asking the right questions and harness the power of gamification and incentivization to inspire and empower learners of all ages.

Resource:

  1. "(80) The art of asking the right questions | Tim Ferriss, Warren Berger, Hope Jahren & more | Big Think - YouTube", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYnGiWlwcj4 (Glasp)
  2. "The difference between Gamification and Incentivization, and how to use them in edTech", https://uxdesign.cc/the-difference-between-gamification-and-incentivization-and-how-to-use-them-in-edtech-d5765d17c3e4 (Glasp)

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