The Solution Test

Here are the questions from our solution test assignment:

  1. What does your solution do?
  2. How does it work?
  3. Why would someone want it?

The problem, again, is that students don’t like math. The solution is obvious to many: let’s get teachers sharing all their best stuff online.

But each teacher’s “stuff” contains a certain internal structure that makes a great deal of sense to the person uploading it, and much less sense to the people downloading it.

My solution to this problem takes an enormous discipline — math — but bets on one particular internal structure and weaves it all throughout the site. The homepage, the uploader, the viewer, the downloader, they all say, “Students need to be perplexed first. Then we’ll help them get unperplexed.”

So you upload nothing more than an image and a video and the question it provoked for you. Other people see it on the homepage and either skip it if it bores them or ask a question if it perplexes them. Whereas other sites resort to generic metrics like number of downloads or a star rating to assess quality, this particular metric is of a piece with the stance the site takes on the structure of a lesson — the more perplexing, the better.

The site then lets teachers upload materials like tools, information, resources, and explanations that’ll help students answer the question that perplexed them in the first place.

The internal structure of these lessons resonates with how we learn in our daily lives. (ie. We don’t seek out lectures or explanations before we have a need for them.) The structure may be foreign to teachers, though, at least initially, but I’ve interviewed enough of them to know that the structure is easier to work with once you learn it and your incentive is that the entire site is then waiting for you.