Updated: August 26, 2012
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I walked into the Koffee Kup Café, stepping gingerly past a golden retriever soaking up sun at the entrance. I ordered a cup of black coffee and watched the waiter put down a dish of water and a bone for the dog. When the waiter brought my coffee, I asked, “Does your dog bite?” He answered, “No." As I paid and left, I reached down to pet the beautiful animal and he bit my hand. I turned to the waiter and with some agitation said, “I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite!” He responded, “He isn’t my dog.” I had asked the wrong question.
Good questions are:
- Clearly Stated
- Conversation Stimulators
Good discussion questions are open-ended, leading to a variety of responses. A member can answer "yes" or "no" without engaging his/her brain. An open-ended question compels members to think about the situation. Note: When you say to children, "How was school today?" and they respond, "Fine." Then you’re done. But if you say, "Tell me something interesting that happened today at school," they have to focus on a specific incident, and you can get them talking.
Good discussion questions are clearly stated. You can’t be lazy about creating a discussion question. If a question is not working, revise it. Note: Well focused questions are a good tool to keep responses on topic (send a direct message to guide anyone who replied off topic).
Good discussion questions are relevant/useful to your audience. They reflect member interest and invite them to think. Note: You can bring a thread to closure by summarizing the issues presented and resolved in the discussion, pinpointing especially interesting and informative responses, and close the discussion.
Good discussion questions are conversation stimulators. Note: “How do you get to know your students’ interests outside of the classroom?” and “Why do you think teachers value Verizon Thinkfinity resources?” include all members responding with no wrong answer. I especially like Al Brown's comment to this post, "Remember, Questions are the Answers" - Al Browne
Some members new to Thinkfinity Community may prefer to “lurk," or be non-contributory browsers. These members may be learning, but just doing it quietly. We try to ensure that members have a variety of activities, including low risk “ice breaker” discussions that will help the “lurkers” find their online voice.