Reimagining Online Learning: A Truly Wicked Problem

16 Aug

Education, no matter how much it reforms both on macro and micro levels, continues to have problems. One reason, as identified in CEP 812, is that most problems in education are neither well-structured (simple), nor ill-structured (complex), but rather quite wicked (unsolvable) problems. So wicked, that once a solution is seemingly found, the problem has already evolved new complex components making the anticipated solution obsolete. Another reason education continues to have problems, according to James Gee (2013), is that people “can sometimes be so stupid” (p. VII). After learning such bleak details about education and humanity in general, it sure seemed hopeless to even try solving simple problems, let alone wicked ones. Fortunately, later in his book Gee offered hope, of which, became a very helpful tool for learning how to even begin addressing wicked problems. In the project for the course, the challenge was to confront a wicked problem smartly, and come up with possible solutions to the problem. I then chose to join a group willing to take “Reimagining Online Learning” as a wicked problem to be resolved. It was necessary to begin such an endeavor by identifying complex pieces of the problem, in order to best understand how to possibly solve it. I chose Canva to help me create an infographic to portray just how wickedly complex reimagining online learning really is.


Once the wicked complexity was understood, it was time to get smart in order to achieve the best possible solutions. Gee (2013) argued in his book that the best and smartest way to attempt to solve wicked problems is to form “Minds” (p.165). A “Mind” is made up of multiple individual minds that work together as “tools for each other”  paired with “non-human tools” (p. 165). Synchronizing my own mind with the minds of my group members (through Google Docs and video-conferencing with Zoom), we utilized various research tools to collaboratively work on solving our wicked problem. As a “Mind”, what we discovered is found below.

Sometimes it is necessary to temporarily settle for a best possible solution because, after all, wicked problems by definition are unsolvable. As problems continue to evolve (like reimagining online learning), so do the solutions along with them(Gee, 2013). Through the development of Gee’s Minds, humanity will be smarter, better equipped, and have a greater chance to solve wicked problems, not just in education, but the world as a whole.


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


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