A Wicked Problem with a Solution

My think tank and I have were tasked with finding a solution to the wicked problem of teaching complex thinking. Over the past few weeks, we have discussed our wicked problem as a group, engaged in what, why, and how questioning, researched numerous online resources, surveyed our community of practice and analyzed the results, expanded our PLNs (personal learning networks), revisited learning theories, and have examined different opinions, ideas, and perspectives to arrive at a solution for effectively teaching complex thinking.

The initial issue we encountered (and actually the most difficult) was having to define complex thinking. Doing a simple Google search for “complex thinking” yielded search results that included critical thinking, complex thinking, and computational thinking used interchangeably. There was not a clear and concise definition that we could use as a starting point so we decided it was necessary to create our own definition of complex thinking. What seemingly was a small piece of a very large problem greatly added to its wickedness. We defined complex thinking as:

"Complex thinking is thinking in which people analyze, evaluate, and synthesis knowledge for application or creation in unique and useful ways within familiar and/or new situations."

While we were struggling with defining complex thinking, we continued our questioning, our research, examining our survey questions and results, and monitoring our PLNs. We decided that another virtual discussion was needed in order to wrap our heads around a solution for this wicked problem.Puzzle Concept Design Plan Team by G. Altmann - https://pixabay.com/en/puzzle-concept-design-plan-team-535509

After many weeks of engaging, collaborating and sharing, we finally arrived at a solution to teaching complex thinking that involves the formation of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) within the teaching community. You can read about our solution in greater detail within our solution page on our website.

It has been a pleasure being a part of and working with my Think Tank group! The problem of teaching complex thinking reared its wickedness multiple times throughout the project but in the end, we have tamed the wicked problem. View our website to read about how we defined “complex thinking”, a background on learning theories as it relates to our wicked problem, our thoughts and the opinions of others (survey results, PLNs, etc.), and finally our solution. We also included links to our survey results and infographics on our References page  – just in case we’ve piqued your interest because after all, we all love data and information! Feedback is welcomed!


Altmann, G. (2014, November). [Puzzle Concept Design Plan Team] [Image]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/puzzle-concept-design-plan-team-535509/


PLNs using Popplet

I have never heard of the web-based tool called Popplet until it was introduced this week in CEP810. Popplet allows you to visualize ideas in a graphical way –  excellent for mind mapping! You can export or share your Popplet with others or simply save if for your own personal use. Very cool and useful tool! The focus was to examine Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) and use Popplet to visually create our current PLN.

Current PLN created using Popplet

Going through this exercise, I realized the amount of web-based resources that are an integral part of my current PLN (over half of  my PLN is web-based). I now teach 100% online, so the social media and online learning portions of my PLN fit nicely into what I teach (web programming) and also allows me to stay current with what’s going on in the industry in a convenient and flexible way. I refer to a lot of YouTube and online learning resources within the courses that I teach, as well as using many of the same resources for my professional development and assignment/project ideas which I can in turn incorporate into my courses. In fact, just this week I was listening to a Podcast from the “A Responsive Web Design Podcast” website while at school working on course development.

I have expanded my PLN to include my MSU peers since starting the MAET program at MSU, which will complement the industry connections that I have built and maintained while working in the corporate world for over 16 years. I continue to be amazed at the wealth of knowledge available at our fingertips and to be able to share, collaborate, learn, and connect with experts and peers in the industry, is so incredibly awesome!