Choral Explanations [...]

Choral Explanations is a wiki-like approach to information sharing. It is pluralistic in that multiple answers are desired, and they can (or even should) take different approaches and assume different levels of existing knowledge.

They are less like the answers that appear on like older, transactional sites like Yahoo Answers but more like Stack Exchange or Quora.

Unlike earlier sites, it’s not about the best or first adequate answer. People looking to learn a theory or a skill find seeing the multiple explanations a benefit. Since each response takes a different approach to providing an answer, the reader can read multiple explanations that get at a subject in different ways, at different levels of complexity. Some are nuanced, and some are ridiculously simplified. Some exercise metaphorical thinking, others dive into math, others illustrate with diagrams.

And this approach – multiple routes into the same concept for the learner – is supported by the research. There are no “learning styles”, as we know – no “kinesthetic learners”. But lost in the discussion about learning styles is the research base that shows that most students benefit from multiple approaches into a subject using a variety of styles. Segregating students into different style groups has no effect, but teaching in a variety of ways is quite effective.

The multiple explanations help in other ways too. Like most other users of Quora or StackExchange, I find that the tenuous understanding gathered reading an initial explanation is slowly solidified and clarified as I read subsequent explanations. In fact, this process – reading multiple treatments of the same issue to add nuance to understanding – is a best practice for learners, accommodated and encouraged by this format.


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