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Berkman Question Tool -simple web tool spurs discussion and buy-in

This article was orginally posted on the Harvard Law School Case Studies Blog. By Elizabeth Moroney

What do you get when you cross a brainstorming meeting with Reddit? The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has taken the best of online forums and crowdsourcing to offer a simple web tool for online or blended discussion. The Berkman Question Tool is a free, open-source discussion tool in which participants can respond anonymously, with a pseudonym, or by name. It can be used for asynchronous online discussion or as a backchannel for in-person discussions. Gene Koo, Fellow at the Berkman Center, said, “It’s an effective way to keep feedback focused, direct speakers to audience interests, and potentially prevent the mic from being hijacked by that weirdo.” Discussion leaders can create their own “instance” with a short description that frames the discussion. This frame can solicit questions or answers. For example:

  • Add a question you have about the today’s course material.
  • Please post a question you would like to discuss.
  • How can we accomplish X?
  • What opportunities does X provide? What risks?”

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