99U has a post on how folks should not brainstorm with a totally open-ended question/idea in mind. It doesn’t focus the brain enough, according to Turnage of “Technology First.”
So what should you do instead?
Embrace arbitrary constraints. These can be time, space, utensils, whatever. An example from the article was creating an ad with a box of colored pencils.
If we applied this to our field, I think it would make immediate sense. Instead of “How great was Beowulf?” you should ask “Given the epic conventions, how great was Beowulf?” We ask questions like the second all the time. The first, that is too broad. Students get lost in generalities.
So perhaps we get lost in generalities too and don’t even realize it. Just thinking.
As I am working on a textbook for the iPad, the adjectives I am thinking are oral-formulaic or multimedia… What does an oral-formulaic iPad look like? What does a multimedia textbook look like?
Pick and everyday interaction and internet-enable it. Their example is a doorknob having a Tumblr account.
I’ve seen something like this applied to literature. Have the students choose a character and have them create a Facebook account for the character. The student must post for their character in character, share, and leave comments on other characters’ Fb pages. If I pushed the literature reading to the earlier part of the semester and had this as a final project, that might be interesting for a couple of days. I don’t want to string it out across the entire semester though.