ThoughtSwap allows students to submit thoughts anonymously to their teacher who can then release those thoughts to be distributed randomly. Students will then be able to consider another’s thoughts in a discussion where self-consciousness, social intimidation, and time pressure are minimized.
ThoughtSwap is a background technology that supports a larger social practice concerned with promoting conscientious discourse. The goal is to get to unmediated face-to-face discussion. But a brief encounter with ThoughtSwap technology changes the infrastructure that enables the discussion.
Two key ideas are (1) provision of contained anonymity and (2) reorientation from asking, ”What do you believe?”, to asking ”What does someone else believe?” Contained anonymity means that, although the responses that people type are posted anonymously, everyone knows that they come from someone in the physically present group.
Swapping people’s thoughts is accompanied by the request that people defend not the thought that they contributed but someone else’s. Mutual interdependence is manifest in that each must rely on others to represent their point of view.
One can ask students to submit multiple perspectives on a prompt, ask them to view the collection of thoughts a teacher receives, and organize them categorically, as well as ask them to argue another student’s thought they receive via distribution.