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Fundamental Questions for Frugal Innovations

     FQ Transform/Preserve            FQ Context/Activity

The purpose of the Fundamental Questions activity is to increase mutual understanding of convergences and divergences among the fundamental goals and values of a working group's participants. Doing so early in the life of the group can enable participants to recognize, appreciate, and deal with the surprises of both convergence and dissonance that are almost always revealed.

The Fundamental Questions activity was first developed and used with TLT Roundtables.   11/11/11 was the 17th anniversary of the beginning of the TLT Roundtable!

Information technology can be the excuse and the means to make almost any kinds of change in education and elsewhere. As you consider the following questions, think about the kinds of change that might happen to your students, your colleagues, your institution, and yourself.
What should be transformed? What should be preserved? 

The TLT Group's Fundamental Questions:

1.   What do you most want to gain?

2.  What do you most cherish and want not to lose?

These two "Fundamental Questions" have been essential to the work of the TLT Group for many years.  The Fundamental Questions have  proven especially valuable when institutions (or groups of almost any size) begin to recognize that they are facing rapid and unavoidable changes - changes that cannot be managed effectively by current organizational structures.  The two questions are usually most powerful when presented first for individual reflection, then for candid small group exploration, and finally for more general discussion.  At each stage, participants are guided to increase mutual understanding and to appreciate the surprises of both convergence and dissonance that are almost always revealed.  The TLT Group has developed a variety of tasks, materials, and additional questions extending the Fundamental Questions for different circumstances and purposes.

The following Fundamental Questions for Frugal Innovations are sequenced to invite you to begin thinking broadly and then to narrow your focus to specific "low-threshold" improvements in teaching and learning that can begin soon.  These improvements should be worthwhile, easy to begin, and easy to share.

Fundamental Questions for Frugal Innovation

1.   What do you most want to gain?

2.  What do you most cherish and want not to lose?

3.   What are some worthwhile improvements we can make quickly and easily? [Small steps]

4. How can we share more widely improvements that work well enough?  How can we support collegial sharing?

5. How can we ensure additional improvements after these? And after those? And so on...?

6.   How can we help more people take advantage more easily and more often of resources to which they are already entitled?

How can we reclothe the emperor?   e.g., not only expose new misleading claims about online education as panacea, but also offer practical guidance?

Improvements in teaching and learning - with technology

a. What are some worthwhile, low-threshold teaching/learning improvements you have already made?  

b.  What are some worthwhile, low-threshold teaching/learning improvements you could make soon?

c. What could help you help a few colleagues make similar improvements soon?

A few individuals' answers to the Fundamental Questions (audio, video recordings).



  • “Low-threshold” shareworthy, shareable improvements were well worth the modest effort required? 
  • Did anyone assist you in selecting and making this improvement? How?
  • Characteristics of your colleagues? Characteristics of yourself? Environmental conditions? Resource materials? 
  • Both shareworthy and shareable: likely to have early results that are well worth the modest efforts required and easily shared among colleagues. [In the right direction, to make a difference?]