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Collaborative Problem Solving

Page history last edited by Bill 9 years, 7 months ago

Exploring Collaborative Problem Solving


In the final chapter of Teaching the iGeneration, readers explore the characteristics of collaborative problem solving efforts.  They are introduced to the different types of problems in the world.  Next, they examine the reasons that groups are better at solving problems than individuals.  Finally, they explore the role that digital tools can play in facilitating collaborative problem solving.


This resource page houses links to the handouts and services that Bill is using to teach the students in his classroom collaborative problem solving skills.  




Structuring Student Problem Solving Efforts


While collaborative problem solving is the best way to come up with innovative solutions, students in school need structures when evaluating complex  problems and their potential solutions.  They need to understand that good problem solvers always build their background knowledge and sense of context before brainstorming solutions.  Unfortunately, these steps to problem solving are often ignored in schools. We want students to come up with innovative solutions on their own instead of exploring an issue thoroughly ahead of time.


The following documents  are designed to structure student problem solving efforts.  Review them and determine just how valuable they would be in your work with students.


Understanding the Problem

Evaluating Potential Solutions

Rating Potential Solutions

Rating Problem Solution Pieces




Structuring Student Wiki Work


Because wikis are often an unfamiliar tool to both teachers and students, it is important to provide formal structures around the work that kids are doing with wikis in the classroom.  The following handouts can be used to structure that work in your classroom:


Characteristics of Quality Wiki Pages -- Asks students to examine wiki pages created by sixth grade students brainstorming solutions for global warming.  Emphasizes the traits that make a wiki page engaging and productive.  


Wiki Tasks for Student Groups -- Can be used as a checklist by groups that are just beginning to develop a wiki page.  Details the steps that must be taken in order to create a solid final product.  


Wiki Scoring Rubric -- Outlines a series of questions that can be asked and answered in order to evaluate the quality of a final product.  


Teacher Checklist for Wiki Projects - Details the kinds of technical and pedagogical questions that teachers need to ask in order to properly structure student wiki work.



Additional Collaborative Problem Solving Resources






Wikis are nothing more than easy to edit websites.  That makes them the perfect tool for teachers who want to engage students in collaborative problem solving projects built around shared final products.  PBWorks is the wiki service that Bill Ferriter has embraced.  While the features that it offers are pretty much standard for all wiki services, PBWorks has a much cleaner set of templates for teachers to choose from.  That makes the final products that students create more visually engaging and clean.  Teachers can sign up for free educator accounts in PBWorks – which come complete with the ability to create individual accounts for every student in their class.  Here are the details:  https://plans.pbworks.com/academic  


And here is a sample of a PBWorks wiki created by Bill’s students: http://carbonfighters.pbworks.com






Wikispaces was once the most popular wiki service for educators simply because it has been around for a long, long time.  Early on in the Web 2.0 movement, it was the ONLY wiki service that catered to educators.  As a result, Wikispaces has been embraced by hundreds of teachers.  Just as importantly, Wikispaces has learned to customize its service to meet the unique needs of educators.  



Challenge 20/20



Challenge 20/20 is an initiative designed to pair interested classes together for a six month study of the kinds of cross-border challenges – poverty, global warming, deforestation, lack of access to clean water – that our world is wrestling with.  Students in sister classes study the problem with one another and then recommend solutions that are likely to be successful.  Challenge 20/20 is a great starting point for any teacher interested in creating meaningful opportunities for students to practice collaborative problem solving.  




What Will YOU Take Away from These Lessons?


Now that you have spent time reviewing the role that wikis can play in collaborative problem solving, it is time to do a bit of reflecting. What lessons did you learn here that you think you  will be able to use in your classroom immediately? Was there anything that made real sense? Is there anything that you are still struggling to understand? What questions about collaborative problem solving remain unanswered for you?





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