Archive for the 'engagement' Category

Feb 15 2016

The Post that Keeps on Keeping On: Zoom and Re-Zoom for Facilitators 

Back in 2013 I came upon a lovely facilitation tool/activity called Zoom/ReZoom using Istvan Banayi’s great books, ZOOM and RE-ZOOM. Every once in a while I check my site stats and dang, if this post isn’t hit daily, and sometimes 30+ times, which far exceeds my average hits these days. The traffic seems almost entirely from search engines. My interpretation? Either Zoom is a very cool word, or people are actively looking for ways to engage with each other. :-) If that’s you, link back into this old post where there are resources and a story of using the activity.

Last month I finally got a chance to use a facilitation activity called Zoom which I found on the Wilderdom’s Game resource page— a great resource!  I deeply appreciate that they put the “copyleft” designation on all their resources. THANKS! As I learned and read facilitation ideas from other sites, I realized I should share some of my experiences as well. Here is the description from Wilderdom’s resource page (which also includes all instructions – I’ve attached a pdf copy at the bottom for taking to an event, but please DO visit their page!)

Source: Zoom and Re-Zoom for Facilitators | Full Circle Associates

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Feb 09 2016

If Teaching is Relational, How Does That Inform Online Teaching?

learningI was in my car the other day, thinking about all the workplace learning projects I’m currently involved in. At times, I feel like I’m moving a giant rock up a hill, with gravity being “lets push content to our learners.” I keep pointing to the importance of practice, context, reflection, informal learning. But I realize I have not sufficiently highlighted the importance  of teaching as a practice about relationships. About being human. About, liberation and yes,  about LOVE.

On our local public radio station, KUOW, ran a story about Nate Gibbs-Bowling reflecting on segregation in Washington state schools and what he is doing about it. At the core of his thesis was that teaching was relationship centric. His success with students of color was not dependent on his subject matter expertise, but his relationship with those students. If you have five minutes, take a listen: Washington Schools Are Segregated And That’s Not OK | KUOW News and Information

Nate’s experience in K-12 education rang a bell with me in my experience with workplace learning. To get the engagement that leads to gains in the application of learning, I use two things. The first is to work as hard as I can to make sure the learning offering has real, applicable relevance to the learner in doing their job. The second is to get to know them and use that relationship to engage with the learners to co-discover ways to liberate the application of the learning.

So if we believe (and hopefully can prove) that teaching is relational, what does that imply for online learning and teaching online, especially the proliferation of self paced, content centric elearning? Or worse, online teaching as enforcement and control.

It means we have to challenge the status quo of content-centricity! This does not mean throwing out content, but it means starting with relationship in the appropriate contexts.

My friend and colleague, educator Brad Beach of Australia and I have been having a years long, very slow conversation on what unlocks learner engagement online and if it varies by domain. I have changed a lot of my thinking about online interaction over time, both as I’ve learned and the environment has evolved, but one thing has always been central. Treat people like real, human beings. Use what the Dali Lama calls being “heard, seen and loved.” We may use the word “respected,” but I think it really is about love. But suit yourself! :-)

A week ago during one of these conversations (they usually happen very early my Friday morning, Brad’s late Friday night) Brad came back again after working with some folks trying to do more vocational education online, with, as they call them in Australia, the “tradies.” He said “Nancy, you were right.” There had been a lot of push back that tradies don’t hew to this idea of relationship building online. Well heck, they do. It might look and sound different, that’s all.

I asked him, “so what does that say about the facilitation of online learning?” Brad, smart man that he is, answered “it is about good teaching. Period. Online or offline.” And together, our experience tells us that good teaching is, among other things, relationship centric.

handsRelationship Centric Practices in Online Teaching

So let’s name some of these practices. I’ll share a few of mine. Please share some of yours in the comments.

  1. Bring your whole self. A workplace learner is juggling many things. Compartmentalization takes more energy to maintain. Bring a little bit of who you are, and find out a little bit of who they are. This helps identify opportunities to liberate learning, often in unexpected ways. For me, a little goofiness goes a long way. Just a little bit.
  2. Bring your unknowingness and curiosity along with your knowledge. As adults, we are co-learners. We learn with and from each other through our conversations, activities and reflections. If we are “know it alls” we often block this co-learning.
  3. Bring human expression into all forms of communication. Use text based body language. (I’m jumping up and down in my chair as I read your response!) Add pictures and images (even silly little sketches) that not only contextualize the content, but our engagement with it and its application in our lives.
  4. Keep the content tap turned to low. This is really, really hard for me. Look at the length of this blog post. I’ll be working on this until the day I die. But pouring more on rarely is the key to engaged teaching and learning.

What do you suggest?

Edit on 2/11: Some related links:

7 responses so far

Dec 09 2015

So You Want to Host a Web Meeting? A Resource

webconferencingA long time ago in a planet far far away, a group of people asked if I could share some of my web meeting tips. I have a lot of tips, most of them learned from many many colleagues from all over, both from watching the masters work and from resources they have created. Finally, I got around to starting the project. It was supposed to be a “tip sheet” of 1 page, both sides. hahahahahaha…

Because I love my smart friends like Pete Cranston (the instigator, I might add) http://uk.linkedin.com/in/petercranston, Susan Stewart http://guidedmeetings.com/ and Bonnie Koenig http://www.goinginternational.com/about/, I started a google doc. They added ideas, and I started writing.  You can see the genesis here.

Many pages later we have  So Yo Want to Host a Web Meeting? I hope you find it useful, and as always, I welcome comments, suggestions for improvements, additional resources, and catching me if I did not attribute properly. The latter was very difficult because so much of this has been learned along the way and ingrained into my practice. The challenges of standing on so many shoulders!!

Edit: 2/17/16 A great pre-webinar activity for when people are logged on and waiting for the meeting to begin from Rachel Smith at The Grovehttp://www.grove.com/pdfs/Do-Nows.pdf 

3 responses so far

Nov 27 2015

Unleashing Joy Through Visual Facilitation – Part 4 of ISS Fellowship

This is the fourth in a series of posts about my ISS/Chisholm Fellowship in Victoria State, Australia. You can find the previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. While I intended to write these WHILE in Australia, it has, er, ahem, taken a bit longer.

When Brad Beach (of Chisholm) and I were noodling on what I might share through my fellowship, I was exceedingly happy that he was willing to step out of the more traditional practices and dive into visual or graphic facilitation. We scheduled two rounds of a 3 hour “Doodle, Draw, Learn” workshops to introduce teachers to the power of visuals for engagement and learning. I think we accomplished this well in the workshops. They also reminded me of something else that happens when we allow ourselves to freely draw. Joy fills the room.

IMG_20151117_084544759As before, I’ll share the content points first as reference, then reflect on my experience and share a few words from the participants. Finally, there is a visual artifact at the end with resources, support materials and a deck compiling all the images from the day.

The structure of the workshop is designed around modeling an interactive initial engagement visual activity, unleashing of drawing joy (“I CAN DRAW”), development of icon skills and wrapped up with another visual activity, this time focused on reflection and evaluation. The agenda is communicated using a visual agenda (of course, and from the photo, you can see this works even on wrinkled flip chart paper) and the feedback is captured with video – another visual medium. In the middle I share example visual artifacts and offer a few thoughts so people can get off their feet and rest for a few minutes. This is where we begin the conversation about where to apply visual practices in the classroom – online or offline.

All in all, this is a very ACTIVE experience. But people generally report being energized, rather than exhausted. Interesting, eh?

Process

Here are brief descriptions of the exercises, in case you want to try them:

  • IMG_20151117_090853483_HDRPaired Drawing:  I learned this from Johnnie Moore www.johnniemoore.com/blog/archives/000380.php and have blogged about it. One pen, one paper, two people taking turns drawing a face, one pen stroke at a time with NO TALKING. There are so many ways to relate this activity to your teaching or meeting goals. It is great not only to “break the ice” but to show patterns of communication and collaboration and the interesting effect of assumptions! More photos here.
  • IMG_20151117_100534192I CAN DRAW: This is again a common and fabulous activity that is used in MANY introductory graphic facilitation workshops. I learned mine from the folks at the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP) and have seen it done many times with amazing variation. The essence is getting up at a wall and using our bodies to draw circles and lines, play with color using chalk pastels and finally getting a sense of the basics of lettering, including size and proportion.Pastels are messy, but they are MAGIC. Something always happens in the room when we use the pastels. I think this is where the joy really becomes visible.
  • IMG_20151112_152422185Visual Vocabulary: This exercise builds off of the circle, lines and lettering of “I CAN DRAW” and introduces basic human forms (stick person, bean or shapes, springs, etc.) I reference heavily the work of people like Dave Gray,  Austin Kleon and others who have generously shared exercises, videos and how-to’s online. You see examples of the resources in the slide deck at the end of this post. OH, and I role model imperfection, believe me!
  • Icon Jam: We follow the vocabulary exercise with a quick round of icon jamming, an activity I learned at an IFVP gathering. I start by calling out a word and asking people to do a quick “telegraph sketch” of the word. Then after a while they call out the words. In one workshop I had them label their icons as a future resource. In the second one, I had people move from paper to paper to both see other’s work, to experience what it is like to “draw on someone else’s paper, and to guess the meaning of the icons. I liked this variation a lot. You can find examples of past workshops here, where we often do this on 3×5 cards
  • IMG_20151111_162410511River of Life: This exercise uses the visual metaphor of a river or a road to stimulate reflection of the past, present and future. In the workshop, the prompt for the past was “what did you expect coming into the workshop.” The present prompt was “what did you learn and experience today.” The future prompt was “what is your next step using what you learned? What more do you want to learn?” Read more at http://www.kstoolkit.org/River+of+Life and more visual examples here.

Application

In the two Chisholm workshops the educators talked about a variety of ways to apply this. There were the expected elements of using visuals to be welcoming and break up text. They spoke of not only the power of visuals, but the power of beauty, as they surveyed the beauty that came out of the “I CAN DRAW” exercise. A few mentioned the utility for working with their more challenging, younger students. Some had to let it sink in, as thinking about visuals in online learning where text has been the dominant form, may take a while.

One of our “non Chisholm” participants, Joyce Seitzinger talked about how she will incorporate more visual activities in the “Learner Experience” workshops she is designing.

Reflections

My key learnings from these workshops affirmed or developed the following ideas:

  • I can get over my attachment that the “I CAN DRAW” exercise MUST be done on large scale paper. We basically had paper that was flip chart sized and I think it still worked. You can’t quite get the full body experience, but it works. This is important because it is hard to find rooms where there is space and permission to do large scale drawing on paper on the walls.
  • Don’t underestimate joy. Make space for joy. Liberate joy!
  • I still would like to find a way to show and practice some of the online options even in a short workshop. I have struggled with this because I feel the foundational experience of working on paper is a must.

Video Harvest/Feedback:

Finally, I decided to try some video feedback vignettes. After I made this video, I realize it missed half the content of the workshop, so I’ll need to do a second try. I’d love any feedback to help me improve on the next iteration!

 

Slides with Resources: Visual Facilitation in Learning – Resource Slides

Rachel Smith on Drawing in the Classroom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tJPeumHNLY

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Nov 27 2015

Relationship Centric Teaching – Part 3 of ISS Fellowship

This is the third in a series of posts about my ISS/Chisholm Fellowship in Victoria State, Australia. You can find the previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2.

learningLiberationBoth of my weeks in Victoria revolved around a series of workshops that were generally designed around the idea of increasing learner engagement. We played with all kinds of titles in advance, but of course, once I showed up and started to hear people’s stories, the new theme emerged: Relate and Liberate. I was very inspired by this quote:

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Lilla Watson (Quote found via The Interaction Institute/ )

Coincidentally, an essay by Clay Shirky, The Digital Revolution Has Already Happened” was circulating when I was planning and it really hit home. In it Clay talks about the importance the access online learning has provided.

I also wanted to focus on relationship centric teaching using conversational approaches. This was supported by a graphic facilitation workshop, which in the end, applied the relationship centric approach while introducing the joy of visuals and graphic facilitation in teaching and learning. You can read more about that workshop in Part 4.

threelegsFinally, I wanted to try out some thinking that I’ve been doing around how to shift such a strong emphasis on content to a “three legged stool” approach that looks at the interplay between content, relationship and social scaffolding, and signals (quantitative and qualitative data that helps us make sense of what is happening) not just from our courses, but across courses and options made possible by open learning. That will have to wait for a full blog post, but I’ll slide in my sketch here and leave it at that for now.

I was surprised that most of the participants were primarily teaching face to face. In my past visits to Australia to hang out with my educator friends, the emphasis had been much more strongly positioned on the online. So I made sure to talk about both online and offline contexts around the materials and processes. The first group at Chisholm were the Learning Leaders working on community based education. The introduction was strongly tilted towards seeing learning as liberation. I have a deep fondness for community based learning. The subsequent sessions were mostly TAFE educators or designers of learning courses and materials.

Process

In all of the workshops I tried to hold myself to the standard of walking my own talk. My plan was to focus on identity and relationship as a key to engaged teaching and learning, and use methods from Liberating Structures as a set of exemplar processes to embody this approach. That meant a focus on liberating the intelligence and passion in the room, making time for connections and creating conditions for useful conversations. My role was to be a catalyst, rather than positioning myself as the expert. This is a good thing, because I’m a learner first, expert… well, that is way down my “identity” list!

Liberating Structures were part of every workshop. We used Impromptu Networking to identify shared challenges, 1-2-4-All to make sense across those challenges. Then the subsequent structures varied by workshop. We  very successfully used Troika Consulting (I keep calling it by the name I know – Triad Consulting!) and Discovery and Action Dialog (DAD) to help address the challenges each group identified, W3 to evaluate the session, tagging on 15% Solution as the “What Next” step of W3 to identify a simple follow up step. In some of the workshops we ended with a simple appreciative networking activity to note who contributed to our experience during the workshop, and who people wanted to follow up with.

goatrodeoIn each of the workshops I offered a quick overview of Liberating Structures (see slides) that covered the micro structure concept and some other example structures. But I have found it has been more useful to USE them, then as appropriate, debrief them, rather than “preach” them.  I reviewed the basics of LS by showing a slide about the micro structures, the list of the 33 structures and shared Keith McCandless’ recent thinking about that (fragile) and rich space between over control and under control (goat rodeo – see Keith’s image to the right!) In the workshops there was insufficient time to talk about how to build an entire agenda by “stringing” structures, so I have included some examples at the end of the slide deck. That probably should have a blog post of it’s own!

In the session where we did DAD, I really appreciate the reflections about the value of iteration in DaD, and in staying close to the questions that are at the core of the structure to avoid “goat rodeo.”  Goat rodeo is everyone doing their own thing. Smart people fall into this trap all the time. In Troika, many people mentioned the freedom of turning one’s back to listen in. In all the structures people noted the deep importance of the starting questions. The more specific the question, the more precise answers are liberated.

A fabulous question was “when is it appropriate to use LS.” I offered an answer, but I also suggested I email everyone in a month and find out what they have used and done, and we’ll generate an “in situ” answer — nothing like reality!

Participant Feedback

In most of the workshops we did the “What, So What, Now What” debrief and reflect Liberating Structures. I was able to capture a few responses on video. Here is the result:

In addition, I received this quote in the mail this past week with permission to quote anonymously:

Hi Nancy,

Just a quick not to say thankyou for coming out to Australia, visiting us and giving us insight to your perspectives. 

 Can I just say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and put a couple of things into practice, nothing special but I went into class with a much more open mind and content within myself.

 I ended up combining 2 groups from 2 campuses for the final 5 classes and although the first night’s turnout was a little lacking, by the end they were developing new workgroups, mixing on their own, helping each other in understanding assessments and to top it off they even arranged a Christmas breakup for both groups together.

 The last night was purely a submitting work  and as a help session for those that hadn’t finished or submitted all their work and I still had nearly a full class!  They brought in cakes, all shook hands and celebrated and it was a genuinely nice thing to see.  Especially when most stayed around until 8pm on a work night.

 I wish you all the best in your travels and business.

Take care,

My Reflections

IMG_20151118_154110941Identity & Good Teaching

This issue came up most strongly in the workshops hosted by eWorks the last day of my fellowship. I took this little visual note on the white board. Our conversation about educators having a strong self identity as educators was the basis of good teaching. Good teaching comes before any facility with online teaching. It always goes back to those basics. This is no surprise, but surprisingly this concept can get lost with online initiatives because people focus so intently on content. Content alone can be found many places. The unique offering of the TAFE institutions is GOOD TEACHING.

Conversational Teaching

IMG_20151112_141319178An essential practice of good teaching – online or offline – is getting immediately into good and useful conversations. I asked people at many of the workshops if they struggled with discussion boards and many raised their hands. I suggested that we need to think carefully and skillfully about how we engage people so that things like discussion forums and web meetings are meaningful, not just things learners have to to. NO TICK THE BOX! This is where we can always improve our skill at designing really engaging questions that people can’t resist responding to, versus canned “discussion prompts.”

In our workshops, every session was started with a conversational approach that asked people what they wanted to get out of the session and what they had to offer. This activity helped me know what they wanted, and acknowledged their expertise as educators and designers of learning. The process used rotating paired conversation and without fail, the buzz in the room was robust and it was always hard to get people to stop talking. I take that as a sign of engagement! (Yes, they could have been complaining about me or the process… 😉 ) But again, this acknowledges identity in the context of meaningful conversation.

I asked people how they currently open conversations in their teaching, and how they might change this. One person said he was going to take is face to face group to coffee, instead of starting by reviewing the syllabus. Another was going to use the paired drawing exercise we did in the graphic facilitation workshop to help learners create relationships right from the start. Just two examples!

It was interesting to be in rooms with so many smart and passionate people, yet I sensed a reluctance for people to speak up at the full group level. Is this part of the identity thing? IS there a “tall poppy syndrome” issue in these organizations?  It may be some of those things, but for me it was yet another example of the critical importance of breaking people into smaller groups because intense, buzzing, engaged conversation emerged every time at the small group level.

brainBrain Based Approaches

Before the workshops I happened on a fascinating article on neurobiology. It described how neurobiology might inform our teaching practices, particularly the work of Dan Siegel. He talks about the unity of the “triume brain” of cerebral cortex (rational brain), the limbic system (emotional brain) and the stem (reptilian brain). Siegel “envisions the brain as a social organ,” and “the emotional system that develops in relationship.” I was taken how he describes a “sixth sense” as “mindsight,” and links this to mirror neurons. “What fires together, wires together,” is a way he talks about how we learn by what we observe. If we observer our teachers functioning as learners, will we be better learners? I think so…  Siegel talks about the power of associations that people make in order to make sense of the world. Positive and uplifting associations can be more meaningful, encouraging, and benefit change. There was so much in this and I only scratched the surface. But by the second week I had to make a visual…

Remember Group Process

A post on Facebook by the fabulous Chris Corrigan reminded me of some very resonant practices from the Art of Hosting and I grFrom Chris Corriganabbed an image to share about the Four-Fold path of Presence, Contribution, Participation and Co-Creation. I am a little shocked when I don’t see many of the deep process work from the facilitation community in teaching and learning. There are natural connections. So introducing across these communities is a particular joy. Going by to my “three legged stool” — this is the relational aspect. How we interact is as important as what we are interacting about.

Share Real Examples

Finally, it was fabulous to hear the examples of the educators in each workshop. In turn, I was able to share about a project I’m working on with an international team sponsored by the Justice Institute of British Columbia and the University of Guadalajara, the  UdG Agora Project. You can take a peek at a recent presentation online about the project from #OpenEd15.

Slides & Resources

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