Red and Yellow Post-It Notes

Today the instructors at the Doing Digital History seminar introduced an elegant solution to one of the perennial problems with group technology instruction–how to monitor student progress.  Students inevitably experience different speeds of mastery and degrees of success when introduced to new technology.  But with both computer screens and the instructor facing the students, it is often quite difficult to see when a student struggles with a step in the process before they find themselves in real trouble.  The solution:  red and yellow Post-It notes.

A simple yellow note tacked to the top of my computer screen immediately communicates “slow down, I can’t keep up” or “excuse me, I might need some help here.”  A red note screams “STOP!!!” without saying a word.  Suddenly, there is a team member by your side helping you work through the problem and catch you up with the information you missed trying to concentrate on the point that caused you so much trouble.  This is an idea I will definitely appropriate for use in my own classroom.

If only we could employ this Post-It note magic to the rest of our lives.  Red and yellow cards are already an integral part of football/soccer, but they could be used for so much more…  I could imagine hoisting a yellow flag in the grocery isle to call for assistance in finding the product that used to be in this exact spot the last time I needed it, yet is nowhere in sight today.  Or perhaps wielding a red card to preserve a friendship when a political debate unexpectedly took a turn into damaging territory.  How different might our daily lives be with such an elegant universal system in place?

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