Government EMRC Council Uses Innovative Approach for Solutions Based Workshop

Collaborating with four local government authorities, the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council sought public feedback to brainstorm ideas around 15 themes using innovative technology including visualisation tools and group response systems at their inaugural solutions driven workshop-Business Insights.

EMRC Chief Executive Officer Peter Schneider said that EMRC is committed to innovation and continuous improvement. “Engaging with our key stakeholders through this workshop is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate that commitment,” said Mr Schneider.

 

The concept of seeking public feedback into government policy is not new, but the approach meant that more voices could be heard, discussed and documented, supported by evidence from the hands of the participants who could vote and comment on other ideas.

 

Over 300 responses were then grouped to reveal the top 15 key issues.

A live workshop to allow networking, discussion, and debate are then being facilitated, with delegate responses being captured and revealed in real-time using GroupMap, a collaborative online brainstorming tool. Key themes include business development, technology, human resources, and government regulations. Delegates will be invited to pair up, find their topic of key interest, and then brainstorm solutions. Using a web-based application and i-pads means that delegates can circulate around the room with ease, adding value along the way.
“It’s important for everyone to have their say, and that all ideas have equal air time.” says Jeremy Lu, Co-founder of GroupMap. “Ideas are shared in turn which aims to inspire more creative and shared problem-solving.” Delegates will have the opportunity to stand side by side with local government representatives from each of the local authorities, as well as with the regional council. “Through employing the use of GroupMap, EMRC hopes to encourage greater involvement by the business community and heighten the engagement experience,” said Mr. Schneider. The results of the brainstorming workshop will be shared with Economic Development officers to drive decision thinking and for project and initiative planning.

The Business Insights Workshop is an EMRC project in conjunction with four of its member Councils, the Town of Bassendean, City of Bayswater, City of Belmont, and City of Swan. Together, the Councils will host the workshop aimed at understanding the major challenges that SME’s are currently facing in the region and collaboratively discuss how these challenges can be overcome.

How Meeting Professionals Engage their Audience – Workshop ideas.

People use online voting to find the best ideas from brainstorming

Using a digital facilitation tool can take your event from a drab, random hodgepodge of conversations that nobody remembers to an interactive, engaging real-time experience. See how this group of meeting organizers did it.

GEVMExchange, hosted by GlobalSignIn at the American Club, Singapore hosted over 100 meeting professionals and event leaders who came together to share the latest trends and to highlight some of the key issues facing event planners. Speakers and topics included:

  • Ben Glynn from Emarsys and Andy Choi from Whispir talking about marketing automation and the need for personalization of messaging.

  • SiddarthDAs sharing an inspiring story about Earth Hour and how a small team executes on events being run globally.

  • Raven Chai from UX Consulting talking about human-centric event design and principles of design.

  • Ken Hickson from SESA sharing updates on ISO standards and sustainability tips.

  • Rachel Siah from BRCKTS with her learnings of venturing into social media.

Capturing key themes through opportunities, challenges and ideas

As part of the conference, GroupMap captured what people thought were future opportunities, challenges and ideas. Based on what was being discussed and shared that day, the wider group could then prioritise the top issues for further discussion.

Next, delegates were given the opportunity to brainstorm and add ideas throughout the day on their mobile, tablet or laptop. The final session was an interactive breakout session for small group discussion. This was a great way to make the workshop more interactive and to make sure that topics were driven by consensus.

Using Dot Voting to generate group consensus

To do this, delegates were asked to digitally dot vote on the top 5 themes that they are most interested in.

Event organizers could see the audience votes in real-time and displayed this on the screen, with one of them commenting “this is like the stock exchange” as topics that were popular floated to the top and were displayed larger.

Using GroupMap as a digital facilitation tool meant the results were collated in real time and were a visual representation of what the audience most wanted in the room.

Audience uses online dot voting to decide on the most important topics to them.

Guest speakers were then invited to facilitate the discussion on the 4 topics in groups.

1. Social media use cases and examples of viral videos and content for meetings.

2. Automation, marketing, and outreach tools.

3. Use of event technology and sustainability concepts in event planning.

4. Audience engagement.

Taking brainstorming online and to the edge.

Going one step further, a map was created to ask people to take brainstorming to the edge using the concept of Edgestorming – from the book Disciplined Dreaming. This thinking style is used by Cirque du Soleil to create memorable events that are buzz-worthy and create word of mouth. The goal is to take creativity all the way to the “edge”, rather than simply sticking to the status quo.

The question was what you could do to make your event outrageously…

  • Big

  • Small

  • Loud

  • Soft

  • Expensive

  • Cheap

  • Strong

  • Fast

Great ideas for various workshops generated through group brainstorming.

GroupMap was the online brainstorming and group response tool used to gather audience insights and voting for key topics at the conference for event and meeting professionals.

Ideas ranged from organising a surprise flash mob to lightning talks to an event harpist! Check out the GroupMap results below.

Veelmal Gungadin, CEO of GlobalSignIn said…..

Engaging the audience to judge the winning corporate learning videos

If you are thinking of a great way to engage the audience then check out how this event organizer turned people’s smartphones and tablets into more than just another audience polling device.

Event organizers of the LearnX conference wanted the audience to decide on the Platinum, Gold and Silver winners of the Best E-Learning training video for 2015.  They had shortlisted the finalists but wanted to crowdsource the final outcome.  But with over 120 people in the room, 4 judging criteria and a ticking clock, the challenge was to collate all that data in real time and announce the places.

Rob Clarke, Founder and Chair of LearnX Foundation -LearnX is always on the lookout for ways to demonstrate cutting edge technologies in the world of learning. We are excited to let you know that we will be using GroupMap for delegates at the Awards to help judge the finalists in the Best E-Learning Video Category.

Here’s how they made the magic happen.

The committee decided on the 4 judging criteria and it was up to the corporate learning teams to pitch and play their videos to a live crowd of peers.  As the crowd watched on, they would enter their ratings using sliders on their device.

After the final videos played, there was a final discussion and deliberation. The final placements were then displayed in real time – showing the spread and combined totals over everyone’s voting.

Participants could also comment on their scores, give feedback to teams and justify their rankings.  This means that the teams were not just getting the opinions of 3 judges but the collective mind and wisdom of the crowd.

This was one of the most valuable items for the teams and far more meaningful than just the traditional loudness of applause method. Having direct comments and feedback from the audience meant that the team could learn what people loved and thought could potentially be areas for improvement in the future.

Our congratulations to all of the finalists and a big thank you to the wonderful audience who used GroupMap as their judging software for this event.  It was great to see in real time all the engagement, thoughts and comments from people for the teams!

LearnX is the E-learning and Training industry association which runs meetings and conferences which recognises the industry top performance such as Best learning services, best new technology implementation, best eLearning design and best learning project.  Each year industry speakers share and showcase their projects and 2015 was the inaugural year in which they used innovative technology to engage crowd participation.

A Critical Thinking Exercise – Which would you rather battle?

See how this simple exercise had over 100 people brainstorming and voting on the best arguments. Industry professionals meet VET teachers to bring currency to the curriculum.

Ask yourself this.  Which would you rather battle?

1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

This was the question posed to attendees of the Industry Currency day where over 110 VET teachers were asked to share and debate their views using GroupMap as their audience response system. This professional development session was focused on ways to improve critical thinking skills – a key learning outcome for 21st-century learning in any curriculum.

perth industry forum groupmap

Each person was asked to pick a side initially. Working in small groups, they then added arguments to be shared more widely as part of the collaborative learning exercise. Here are some of the ideas they came up with.

With the opposing views  captured, this became the perfect fodder for a healthy debate. But we wanted to take it one step further to work out which arguments were the strongest.

 

Use of voting techniques to identify logical fallacies

Using the concepts of logical fallacies (flaws in logic) and the simple like/dislike buttons, people voted up the arguments that they felt best made their case.  The best and strongest arguments would then float to the top and the results shown. The goal was to focus on the strongest arguments put forward by the each side.

Running through the ideas allowed people to comment and to support and challenge what was being said by their peers. This form of collective learning certainly isn’t something you could do with simple polling.

The group discussed the arguments presented and considered the impact this had on their position on the matter. Whilst a hypothetical discussion, it highlights the importance of forming a good argument free from logical flaws.

Hosted by Training Council (FAPSTC) and held at Curtin University, the Industry engagement forum provided a technology driver environment for the VET sector to interact with speakers and industry representatives. More than 40% of year 12 students undertaking a VET qualification in 2014.  The event was an outstanding success.

“Alison Sweet, event organizer from FAPSTAC said: “Teachers can gain insights to help them take industry intelligence and embed it into their classrooms, creating relevant, authentic and innovative environments.”

Part of the session also included an interactive industry Q&A powered by GroupMap. “We wanted to lead by example, “ said Sweet, “and make the most of collaboration tools like GroupMap. It allows audience members to ask questions to presenters as they have them, engaging those that might not be comfortable asking questions in a large group forum. The workshop organizers could see any unanswered questions posed by the group on GroupMap and could respond to them. Teachers could see group brainstorming technology in practice making it easier to implement strategies to engage students in the classroom.”

Additional sessions included test running a new social media platform called FauxBook, insights into careers in business, finance, and technology from Microsoft and BankWest, and industry updates from a panel of industry speakers.

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Ready to try your own critical thinking exercises?

Here are 5 tips to consider to help students become independent learners.

  1. Set examples that do not have a straightforward answer.

    These are your non-Google”able” items that challenge the student ability to examine perceptions, inferences and conclusions. “Which is better? Oranges or bananas?
  2. Start and end with “Why”.

    This is a clear sign that people are engaging in thinking.  A simple technique is to ask Why 5 times so you really drill down into the basic logic.

  3. Aren’t questions great?

    Learning stops at an answer and thinking starts with a question.  A Socratic style and deliberate questioning with the group will get those neurons firing.

  4. Engage in visual thinking.

    In this blog example, we used a 2 column list just to represent opposing views. Additional options such as Plus, Minus Interesting, 6 thinking hats, or a collaborative mind map provide different thinking activities. The use of space with graphic organizers helps to organize thoughts and to make it easier to see what the thinking is in the room.
  5. Give them time to think.

    Want to avoid that awkward silence when you ask a large group a question? Critical thinking exercises require a little introspection and processing time. Give people a chance to brainstorm individually first (yes, this is a feature in GroupMap).  They can then share more broadly and with confidence with the wider group.

If you would like to watch a quick critical thinking exercise in action, please watch the below video.

Judging software used to find the best student start ups

Just Start IT, an innovative learning program designed to ignite student creativity, is an 18-week inter-school program of student teams made up of Hackers, Hawkers, and Hipsters how to create a Technology Start-Up. GroupMap was used as the judging software solution for the night.

There were more than 200 teams participating in the program for 2015 from 32 different schools across Perth, Australia. The students were introduced to their mentors who helped them dive right into the process of creating a business that solves real-world problems. With their eyes on the finals; everyone was working together to build their solutions using the lean canvas template. It was exciting to see which problems the student start-ups were addressing and their incredible solutions.

The ten finalist student startups included :

Bit Transaction– an Escrow payment solution for Bitcoin. Bitcoin is like cash but for the internet, with the ability to revolutionize the payment industry. Bitcoin has sparked plenty of interest from many power figures including Al Gore, Peter Thiel, and Bill Gates. The problem for Bitcoin spenders is the security of not knowing if they would receive their purchase or not.

“We believe Bitcoins greatest potential is as a global payment network, by providing an escrow payment solution for bitcoin, we will change the way you pay online”.
– Aiden Gatani

CrapMap-Australia’s best locator is an application allowing the citizens of Perth the ability to report and review public toilets to the council for maintenance. Their application allows users to discover the cleanest, closest public toilets near you.

Dear Dad– creates different packs to deal with the awkward situation of father-daughter relationships when it comes to the conversations of puberty and relationships. They created a demo pack for the night and described a range of alternative Dear Dad spin-offs.

After months of sleepless nights and early mornings, the student startups pitched their ideas to a crowd of 200 and 9 judges who were all wanting to listen to the bright ideas from the youth in their community.

 

 

finalists for juding

The judges used GroupMap as a judging platform to provide feedback to each team and to rate their pitches on a scale based on how they sizzled or fizzled. As each student startup pitched their idea, each judge rated them directly on the judging platform, capturing comments and asking questions. Judges included Paul Hodder from Bell Potter, Tony Panetta from DataCom, Michelle Sanford from Microsoft, and Walter Green from Waitta/iAwards.

Here’s a snippet from one of the judges:

What the judges had to say

Judging was made easy and in real-time. Each student startup was entered directly into GroupMap as a judging software for the night. Each judge’s ranking was combined to give the overall scores and placement of the teams. The list would reorder itself according to the final ratings so that all the teams were ranked from 1 to 10. A team that sizzled meant that they had the right market, the right team and had validated their idea well. Judges simply used their mobile, laptop or table to rate their scores.

student start up business contest

The final winning team was Team Getcha – a social media application that solves the problem of receiving unwanted gifts by allowing you take photos of the things you want and allowing your friends to buy this for you. It blended business advertising, social media as part of this “wedding list” style application.

judging software used to rank winning team

The event organizers were provided with the final list of ranked participants as well as individual reports that could be shared with the student startups to provide them with feedback from the judging panel. The winning team was awarded a $5,000 cash prize and the top 2 teams were also given the opportunity to pitch their ideas at the national iAwards. Two other teams also took out the prizes for innovation.

Best of luck to each of the student teams as they head off on their entrepreneurial journey.
See what the organizers had to say below:

We created a GroupMap to use as judging software perfect to the needs of our evening, allowing our judges to listen to the pitches and rate the pitches by filling a toolbar. The judges were also able to enter valuable feedback that they could share with each other via the map throughout the evening. This allowed quick and silent collaboration that was vital to the process. GroupMap also creates feedback reports to us the program leaders to be able to take back to the teams after the event for discussion. This type of feedback for teams that we are taking to market is invaluable.

GroupMap is a fantastic collaboration tool that we want to build permanently into our program. It allows endless collaboration, giving even the most quiet person a voice. I think of GroupMap as The Voice of Collaboration, and could not recommend it more highly.

Lainey Weiser
Just Start It
Co-Founder

Community engagement to brainstorm a Science Centre

The mission of the Rockville Science Centre is to inspire a lifelong passion to explore science, cultivate a sense of inquiry, and promote how science impacts everyday life. Following a feasibility study, the Centre was awarded a grant to develop the science centre.  On March 31, they announced the community engagement initiative to gather input have hosted a series of brainstorm sessions to involve the members of the community in planning the new facility. Using the tag line ” Imagine Our Future”, the events connected businesses, citizens, scientists and Zumba enthusiasts to generate ideas to conceptualize Rockville Science Centre 2.0.
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said “Every year we get a little bit closer to an actual brick-and-mortar building which I think is exactly what we need. All along the way every year, the Science Center has gotten stronger and more engaged and bigger in terms of the people you are bringing in and the activities that you are providing. It’s a huge asset to the City of Rockville and to the County at large.” “When we have a facility, we want you to say, ‘Yeah, I worked on that idea’, because then we will have reached our goals.”
Tracy Dovea key driver of this initiative wrote in this article –  

“RSC does not want to recreate the “don’t touch” model of learning. The RSC will have a didactic – even Socratic – method of teaching and learning based on what the community has been able to input. This would be a centre of continuous learning with the goal of reinventing its content on a regular basis.”

RSC needs the community to build on these ideas to create the Center. Attendees will go beyond whiteboards and sticky notes by using the cutting-edge GroupMap software to collect ideas. 

There will be several tables – each one with a different topic. Participants will be encouraged to pick a table – or start their own! The Big Board up front will display in real time what each table is doing as the community puts together the 0’s and 1’s of the Center. ” said Tracey Dove.

Members of the public including scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers, parents, and children were invited to attend a series of brainstorming sessions to share ideas.  In fact, their official line reaches out to teachers, parents, children, accountants architects, zoologists, and Zumba enthusiasts! Participants were asked to pick a topic which included:
  • Facility
  • Outreach
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Content and
  • Programs
Ideas are captured in real-time and displayed on the board at the front of the room.  Following discussions these ideas were then translated into the development of the overall business plan, creating the vision for launching the vibrant science facility to connect with the community in the region. This form of strategy means that community engagement is both transparent, efficient, and in real-time – perfect for any resource-constrained organisation seeking to maximise its productivity.

Jeremy Lu (Co-Founder) and School Business Manager for Science at Curtin University said, “We are delighted that GroupMap technology has such a positive impact in the community especially promoting science awareness and education.”

Programs conducted by the Centre include Science Cafes sessions at a local restaurant, a robotics program including the FIRST Tech Challenge to develop and test robots in challenges, exploration trips off the beaten track, as well as their camps and fairs that bring the community together.

The Rockville Science Center is just one great example of how online brainstorming tools can be used to solve problems and execute on a community engagement strategy to work towards common goals.   You can see their full article on Communities and Education and if you would like further information,  please contact Tracy Dove: RSC2.0@rockvillesciencecenter.org

(Images Courtesy of Rockville Science Centre)

Graphic Organizers Training at the AICT

PD teacher training GroupMap

Held at the AICT in the Central Business District, this Industry currency and vocational competency day were aimed at teachers delivering courses in Applied Information Technology, Business Management, and Computer Science. Kristen Reddin, Founder of Devise PD, aimed to engage participants in a range of new technologies aimed to improve classroom delivery.

The Australian Institute of Commerce and Technology had facilities similar to modern schools with teachers being able to see how a good setup can directly impact the learning experience. Sessions included live streams from the States included young entrepreneurs who had developed their own apps through to TedX talks about the shifting culture of technology.

In this session, ICT teachers were introduced to a range of graphic organizers which they could use to customize the delivery of their lesson plans to improve student engagement and the learning experience. Our goal was to arm them with the ability to create more engaging experiences in the classroom and to boost student’s critical and visual thinking.

PD teacher training GroupMap

What They Know… What They Want to Know

Using a KWL graphic organizer, we asked teachers what they already knew in terms of coding and to get a sense of their current ICT experience and knowledge. This was a quick 3-minute exercise followed by a quick review.  Next, we spent a bit more time thinking about what they wanted to know. This would then inform the next presenters and let them focus their session for the audience.

Here’s a snippet of what they said.

KWL template graphic organizer

This was a fast and effective way of getting a quick “glimpse” into the current skills set of the room. They then dot voted (dotmocracy) to quickly identify the top things they wanted to learn from the rest of the day. This information was then shared with the presenter for the next section of the workshop.

Question and Answer Graphic Organizer

After this session, the teachers then went on to learn more about app development. Here’s what they did.

“Later in the day, we used GroupMap in 2 of the following sessions and it worked really well. I set Simon who was presenting through Google Hangouts, with access to a map. As he presented, people wrote questions which he then read out and answered. It was 1000% superior to a basic webinar.” Kristen Reddin – Founder, Devise PD.

This process lets the people in one room engage with the presenter in another part of the world, all in real-time. Each person asked questions which were suggested to others. If someone else had the same question, they would be able to add it to their own list. The result was a prioritized list of questions, with the most common at the top.

audience engagement graphic organizer

This was a really simple graphic organizer that simply allowed people to create their own lists which then combined into a single list. The bonus, of course, was that with fast session times, more questions could be answered for more people could comment on answers provided.

Training ICT teachers on GroupMap graphic Organizers

Session Evaluation

This session was later evaluated by the organizer, which they were kind enough to share with us here. We were completely pleased that they found the session valuable.

PD Session Evaluation

Impact on learning.

Of course, the purpose of this training is to encourage more effective engagement in the classroom and to allow students to be fully involved in the process. Being able to customize the map to the lesson plan lets people sort and categorize ideas, as well as using the group’s own feedback to collectively rank and decide on the key points. It’s a great way to get them actively learning in the classroom. See this blog post here about how graphic organizers were used to explore careers with 200 students.

The next Teacher PD session on graphic organizers in a workshop entitled “Improving Critical Thinking and Decision Making” will be held at Curtin University for the Financial, Administrative and Professional Services Training Council. Tickets have already been fully sold out but if you are interested in further training – please contact us here.  Additional free lesson plans with a range of graphic organizers can be downloaded here.

Graphic organizers used to explore future jobs with 200 students

As part of Careers Week, Ashdale Secondary College held a series of interactive activities and workshops focussed on careers – highlighting the skills and attributes students needed in the workplace. Using interactive technology to improve student engagement, students creatively imagined future jobs then voted for the “coolest”. Based on the top job, they then had to brainstorm online the skills, knowledge, and personal attributes necessary for that job. With such a neat idea, we had to share some of the graphic organizers they used. student engagement preparing for graphic organizers Lynne Makin from Ashdale Secondary College reiterated the great need for career guidance to be promoted and celebrated in local schools. “It’s important that we invest the time to support young people with advice and guidance which puts them on the right track to careers success at the earliest opportunity,” She said the initiative was about inspiring students to achieve their dreams and encouraging them to ask the right questions. The session kicked off with Co-Founder Jeremy Lu sharing his personal career journey, then asking students to imagine what jobs would exist in 2050.  Here’s the graphic organizer they used – a simple list used to capture the different kinds of jobs. From DNA based credit cards to Exo soldier to nuclear engineers, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of unique professions.

What jobs do you think will exist in 2050?

graphic organizer Students were then asked to consider and discuss the different ideas and to dot vote on the one that they thought was the job that would be the most creative and worth exploring further. As you can see, Food Printer topped the list. Seem off the radar? Perhaps not. In fact, talented Dutch industrial Chloe Rutzerveld is already exploring this space creating artistic portions of healthy based finger foods. edibel-growth-3d-printed-food-2 With the job of food printer in mind, a graphic organizer was created with the following 4 headings:

1. Skills – What they can do
2. Knowledge – Knowing why they do what they do
3. Experience – Time spent doing what they do
4. Attributes – Personal traits that decide how they do what they do

This was a great way to gather ideas from students about what was needed to secure those future jobs. As students completed their brainstorm online, these were shared in real time with everyone, including the teacher so that it could be used as a tool for facilitating discussions. It was really interesting to see where students struggled and where they were on the right track.

What skills, knowledge, experience and attribute do you need to be a Food Printer?

skills knowledge and experience graphic organizer for student brainstorming This information and discussion became the basis of the ensuing workshops aimed to hone those skills and knowledge. Industry mentors and representatives were invited to speak to share their experience, as well as some goal setting challenges for each student to consider what they could do to plan for their future career. This was a great scene setter and helped teach students the importance of building and creating your own future.

So what did the students think about this approach?

(Our thanks to the teachers who helped collect and send us this feedback)

“It was cool to see the ideas on the screen and amazing how the technology brought everyone together.”

“Very creative session and fun to work with others.”

“This session showed us how easy it was to use GroupMap to help us learn new things in a fun way.”

“It helped me relate to the task as technology is a big part of our lives.”

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If you are keen to create your own graphic organizers to improve student engagement in the classroom, you can try the above to run your own career exploration activities or check out more lesson plans. About the Author Vicki Hodgson is a business management Lecturer who previously worked within Education in the UK.  She has developed and delivered leadership and management programs at one of the UK’s foremost Further Education colleges. Vicki was nominated for two national enterprise awards in 2014 and won the academic staff member of the year in 2012.  She has continued her work with Curtin University and Edith Cowan University in Australia.

Graphic Organizers at the TeachMeet SciTech Event

GroupMap classroom teachers
Thanks to all science teachers who joined us at the GroupMap session

It was a fantastic turnout as teachers gathered for a lightning 6-minute GroupMap session. This activity involved a frenzy of phalanges as we explored the use of the KWHLAQ model for improving scientific inquiry.  Think of it like the traditional KWL (know-What- Learn) template but with a few additional steps to extend student learning. Graphic organizers like KWHLAQ provide a simple and effective way to complement your lesson plan through a process of reflection, collective sharing, questioning and applying.

We asked a few volunteers on the day to help us out with the activity here using a BuzzFeed video with a few snippets about the human brain. You can see some of the things they added from their iPhone, iPad or table on the day.  It’s a quick snap shot of how an edutech-enabled KWHLAQ runs.  Of course, this was a quick 5-minute exercise – it’s up to you how deep you want to take each activity.

In practice, this is an activity that you run across the length of your lesson plan, whether or not you have a flipped classroom. Here’s an example of a lesson plan.

visual organizer, KWHLAQ, GroupMap,
Example 1 – from the teacher participants at SciTech

How does the KWHLAQ impact student learning?

It may just seem like a series of questions, but each one leads them through Blooms taxonomy from recall through to synthesis and application.  The starting point is to pick your topic.  This tool is subject agnostic so it can be as simple as “What is the Sun?” through to “What are the key elements of forensic chemistry investigations.”
Here is the run down on each stage so you can decide how it might apply to what you teach:

K – Let’s start with what you know.

This gets students to recall what they already know about the subject and activates conversations – who knows.. you may learn something new yourself! This is a good way for you to offer feedback or to challenge some of their initial assumptions, encouraging them to back it up with facts.
By quickly capturing the wisdom of the group, you get a sense of the starting point for the group.  I recommend doing this as an individual exercise to begin with. Individual silent brainstorming at this stage gives each person the opportunity to draw our more specific information and a way for each student to start thinking about the topic. It gets them all involved straight away and is often a way to see who has “contributed” the most in the first stage.
Once you think there is enough input, open it up to class discussion and feedback.  At this point, I like to provide a bit of content, a video or a few slides on the topic to add to or validate what the students have put forward.

W  – What would you like to find out?

This steps promotes inquisitive thinking, giving students the opportunity to design and create their own learning experience. Encourage them to question what might not be known and to consider why they are asking the question. Creativity is key here. You might add a few key things that you have to cover from the curriculum but then provide a little space for new discoveries. Sharing what people have put forward is a good way to inspire new perspectives.
If you are really short on time, you can ask students to vote on the things they want to find out about the most.  This will help focus the class on the key questions.
This list can help you design your next class or act as a blue print for the next step.

H – How would you find out?

This step encourages students to take charge of their learning. They have to think of the sources of information to answer those questions. Not everything should just be Googled. They may have to talk to others, design their own experiments, look at referenced articles or interview an expert.  If they are heading towards a design of an experiment, you may wish to separate this out to a separate activity around experimental design. I tend to give the most feedback here because I find that this is where they need the most guidance or lack specificity. Throwing in a few examples you expect from them doesn’t hurt.
Once this is done, they can start their research or activities. This is usually where there majority of time is spent.

L – What did you learn?

Once the class or activity is over, this reflective exercise asks students to summarise key learning from their work to be shared with the class. This is key to see if there have been any new facts gathered in the process. I love being able to give a thumbs up for new information that I find remarkable or worth recognising the effort put in.  This can sometimes be a step done after student presentations so that it can brings in learning from the whole class.

A – What actions can you take?

Great job so far. Now it’s time to make it real by asking students to think of a few ways the new found knowledge can be applied on a day to day perspective or to solve a different problem. By translating knowledge into action, this helps them consolidate information into a real application. It’s up to you how much emphasis you want to put to this.  Sometimes the thinking is enough, and other times, you actually want to go further to make it real, adding in comments and pictures.

Q – What new questions do you have?

Often the more we find out, the more questions we have, so this last step captures any new questions that may have come from the first round of activities. It teaches the importance of continued questioning and how our questions advance as we discover more.  It might even be the catalyst for the start of a new topic.

visual organizer, KWHLAQ, GroupMap
Example 2 – Directed brainstorm with a single facilitator

Whilst you can do the activity above on paper, you can also use digital visual organizers to reduce manual collation and to give better real-time feedback. GroupMap, for example, let’s you switch between brainstorming styles, provide comments to students, vote in real-time and see what individual students as well as the whole class did.

The KWHLAQ template reminds us that we need to build on our existing pool of knowledge, be curious, scientific and deliberate, to share our findings with others in order to build on the knowledge pool and to apply it to solving real world problems. Aren’t these the basic principles of being a good science citizen after all?
Thanks again to the wonderful folks at TeachMeet and SciTech for inviting us along and to @EmCummuskey for this shout out. I hope the above is helpful in helping you deliver your next lesson.
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Have you applied the KWHLAQ activity in your classroom? What other tips can you give?

What is TeachMeet?

TeachMeet is a volunteer run organisation for Teachers by Teachers based on lightning quick presentations of teaching in practice. Our presentation was run at SciTech.

About the author

 Jeremy Lu has been a lecturer and tutor at Curtin University for the last 8 years, recognised as Sessional Lecturer of the Year 2014 at Curtin Business School. He is currently the School Business Manager for Science and has also helped start up teams with commercialisation of ideas. He has facilitated strategy and planning workshops with previous business management and training in the Health, Education and hospitality industry. He co-founded GroupMap as an online brainstorming tool to help improve the way people share ideas and a tool to help facilitators and educators improve the learning and decision quality of a group.

 

Want to try this out free? GroupMap offers a 14-day free trial so you can see if this is right for your classroom or school.

How We Got 160 People to Brainstorm on GroupMap.

When GroupMap was invited by digital creative festival organisers to take our online brainstorming tool out of meeting rooms and classrooms to the general public, we needed a fun, eye-catching way to get people’s attention.

The goal was to get people’s ideas about what would make a city more innovative.

Festival folk joined in on the day or online giving us their responses. Everything from changes to transport systems and single owner housing offices through to spaceports and community-driven designs was thrown in.

We ended up with over 160 ideas and even a thank you letter from the city’s CEO. Sweet. We also managed to collect creativity tips from industry professionals about what makes them more creative.

 

GroupMap Testimonial – City of Perth