Wicked Problems and Tinker Times


Picture by Denise Krebs available under CC by 2.0

In the last couple of weeks we have been looking at “wicked problems” and how we propose to “fix” them. Our group (Alan and David) has specifically focused on how we can make innovation part of the learning ethic. “Innovation springs from the freedom to connect ideas in new ways”. (New Media Consortium, 2013, p2) One of the hardest things for teachers to do is give students freedom within their learning. Educators have so much required content to cover that we feel restricted to stick with mandatory material. Our group is proposing that educators implement a “Genius Hour” or in what we are calling “Tinker Time”. This allows students to engage themselves in a learning topic of their choice. According to Gee (2013), “Humans think and act well only when they care about what they are doing” (p.13).  Allowing students to choose the topic they would like to explore and build on will essentially motivate them to learn here and in other required topics.

Picture by Denise Krebs available under CC by 2.0

Picture by Denise Krebs available under CC by 2.0

We have created a Blendspace and compiled the thoughts and discussions that we have had so far. We will continue to use our “Minds”, which is what Gee (2013) considers to be the plugging of more than one mind with the right tools together, and will further develop our proposal to solve making innovation part of a learning ethic.

Works Cited

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

Gee, J. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.


4 thoughts on “Wicked Problems and Tinker Times

  1. Good afternoon, Hayley!
    First of all, I want to commend your group on the work you’ve done so far on looking at Innovation. As my group is also working on the same wicked problem, it was really interesting to see your discussions bringing up the same kinds of issues (PD, choice, creativity) as our group. I really like the idea of utilizing “Genius Hour” as a possible springboard for addressing the need to innovate, though it would be great to see that idea take off into something far more reaching than one-hour-once-a-week that still gets all the job of meeting state standards done. (One caution: in some areas of your Blendspace, your plan is referred to as “Tinker Time” and in others, it is called “Thinker Time.”) I’m really looking forward to seeing your ideas develop over the next week.
    Your blog post lays a good foundation for the work that you’re doing, but it could use a bit more context for the work that is going on. You link to the definition of “wicked problem” but don’t really talk much about the difficulties in trying to solve such a problem. Not everyone who reads our blogs is buried in this type of information the way that we are. The background you give on innovation and why it is important definitely helps move the information forward. (On the other hand, my blog post is really heavy on context and light on content as we are talking about so many things related to innovation that I couldn’t cover it all in a cohesive way – somewhere in the middle has to be a happy medium.)
    I really enjoyed the video mashup you created to support the ideas of innovation. Pulling in student perspective really helps add to the excitement that comes with thinking about the possibilities that innovation brings. The video that comes after your screen capture poses some really important questions that we will certainly have to address in the near future with our students.
    I’m curious about your word cloud visual representation. Is there meaning behind the colors used (all green go together, all purple go together, etc)? What text(s) were your sources for building the word cloud? I recognize many of the words (in isolation) from things I’ve read about innovation, but others (the word “killing” for example) seem to come at you from out of the blue without context.
    As your group moves forward in your development, try to find a way to really show how TPACK can be used as a way to help move innovation along. It is briefly mentioned in the draft of the white paper.
    Great work to you and your think tank on your work with innovation. As I said, I’m really looking forward to seeing where your group goes in the development of ideas of how today’s teachers can find ways to innovate their teaching and learning.


  2. Hi Hayley! I hope things are going well!

    Thanks for sharing your wicked problem progress. It looks like you, Alan, and Dave are off to a great start. Nice work!

    You have contextualized your blog post nicely. It is succinct and offers the reader a brief overview of your progress so far. One suggestion I have for your post is to make sure the links open in a new window. I know that is something Mary had mentioned to me, so I’m just passing that helpful hint along. 🙂 This way readers don’t have to find their way back to your page after clicking on something.

    I really like how in your draft of your white paper, you justify why this truly is a wicked problem in education. It looks like you’ve really explored the complexities of this problem and understand why it’s difficult to solve. I also think it’s great that you tied together Gee’s point about how people do their best work when they are interested in the subject and how “Tinker Time” will encompass this idea. (Although in the white paper, it’s written as “Thinker Time”…wasn’t sure which word you guys are using so just make sure it’s uniform through the whole project.)

    It sounds like you have a lot of resources to justify your arguments and it is evident that you’ve let your research guide your thinking. Are there any concerns you have come up with regarding the implementation of Tinker Time? Will teachers know what to do, how to guide, and how to support this method of learning? In your brainstorming document, you briefly mention Gee’s “circuit of reflective action”. I think this would be a great piece to bring into your argument and white paper.

    Also, be sure to clearly reference the connection between TPACK and Genius Hour/Tinker Time. It’s my understanding that this is a key component of the project as TPACK is a major theoretical lens we’ve been working with.

    Your Blendspace is coming together very nicely and you are well on your way. Awesome work on the mash-up video too. I enjoyed how you added the explanations and how you included a snippet from your Zoom meetings. Did you communicate any other ways? Voxer, texting, google docs? Maybe you could include some snippets of those as well? Just a thought!

    Looking forward to seeing your group’s final presentation! Good luck to you all as you work to finish this project!



  3. Pingback: Wicked Problems: Blog update | Alan Morrison's MAETEL1 Blog

  4. Pingback: Innovation as a Learning Ethic…Not so wicked anymore! | hayteacher

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