Digital Graphic Organizers at Futures Thinking STEAM Workshop Activity

Having to attend yet another Professional Development day can feel a little lackluster. That’s something Jonathan Nalder, Director of FutureWe.org and Digital Learning Coach at St Peters Lutheran College seeks to change. He runs STEAM workshops that challenge the status quo. From introducing the Future Literacies Framework to practical learning activities and using collaborative online graphic organizers for brainstorming, Jonathan has a deep-rooted belief that education needs to prepare students for the future.

Professional Development Day Insights with FutureWe

We take an inside peek into a STEAM workshop presented by Jonathan and his Edunauts (As they called) at the National Education Summit where they explored the future of work. Attendees in the “Creativity” stream engaged with what might make jobs safe or doomed in the near future. GroupMap was used to engage the audience in collaborative brainstorming, discussion and reflection.

Workshop Scenario and objectives

The workshop goal was to help leaders implement teaching strategies to build student capacity to create their own job and be prepared for future vocations.  

Jonathan says he needed “a flexible solution for quick collaboration and group responses that would deliver impactful results both in the classroom for young adults, as well as a viable solution to use at a professional development day future leaders.” “What we need,” he continues” is to allow participants to record their answers, but then discuss and further analyze while seeing other people’s ideas and being able to interact by voting.”

This was the workshop scenario

“The date is now 2035. 30-70% of the jobs have been impacted by robotics and AI. Apps write their own code. Universal Basic Income has replaced the need for ‘work’ to define our lives. Humans are an interplanetary species. Biotech is regularly implanted at birth.”

Capturing group discussions in STEM workshops

People were presented with the scenario and asked to write down what jobs they thought were either safe or at risk of obsolescence. As each person talked and shared, they would write down jobs under each category. But unlike sticky notes and butchers paper, the results could be seen immediately on everyone’s screens. This made it easier to have a lively discussion about what each job. Setting up simple online graphic organizers help your workshop attendees easily share their thoughts in real time in a structured and organized way.

What seems like a straightforward question actually triggers a few reality checks and deep discussions and debates. As Jonathan explains, “ having the ability to make the session collaboration and interactive …, I was able to bring a more democratic approach to solving problems in the workshop resulting in a quick and effective consensus.” exclaims Jonathon.

 

Workshop participants brainstorming with online, digital graphic organizer GroupMap

To round up the exercise and to both add to the collective consciousness, jobs were searched and compared against a public opinion database and poll (willrobotstakemyjob.com). This site was based on a report by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne called “The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?” where 702 detailed occupations were processed through a Gaussian process classifier to estimate how susceptible jobs are to computerization.

Jobs that were traditionally great starters for teenagers such as Shop Assistants, Baristas (96%) and even Uber Drivers were at risk. Meanwhile, jobs that required the ‘personal touch’ such as mental health workers, teachers, and writers or professional judgment and skill such as Vets, programmers and lawyers (4%) were considered to be safe.

It is hard to argue at this stage that AI could ever replace the more subtle aspects of creativity and human-centered profession but it’s clear that as citizens of the new world, it will be less about manual tasks and repetition and more about collaboration and creation.

Jonathan shared one defining feature that made all the difference for him while encouraging open collaboration was being able to customize his graphic organizers for his workshop activities. 

“Having the preset templates for easy setup, and being able to make the collaboration interactive with voting… meant we could tweak the map to our needs”, Jonathan explains “It’s fast become a standard tool for supporting live interaction and it has allowed this to happen in a speedy way that fits in with what we are trying to achieve – promoting future-ready literacies that help people thrive in a fully digital era.”

The Future Literacies Framework

This process underpins the concept of FutureWe’s Be Future Ready Framework. It encourages activities and lessons that encourage students to explore, relate, design, deliver and share.

 

What stood out to us in the range of skill sets and tools that students need is the need to encourage students to have an open mind and a sense of agency. At the same time, they need to work in a team and understand the collective mindset. Their ability to think, expand their field of vision, give constructive feedback and collaborate and create with others is what would set them apart. Interestingly, these elements could arguably be what is missing in the robotics, artificial intelligence and other automation counterparts. 

Jonathan has now used it at over 6 conferences and events in Australia, USA and Asia and also incorporated collaborative brainstorming into his teaching and leadership practice at his school. “The feedback from the audience has been incredible,” says Jonathan. But beyond workshops, Jonathan has also used it with staff resource planning and professional development at his own school.

I have used GroupMap here at St Peters Lutheran College to gauge staff PD needs with a tiered survey.” explains Jonathan,” they could vote across three levels of support that they thought should be prioritized. We used the 50 responses to them guide our planning and resource allocation.” (Results blurred).

Setting up a GroupMap with audience voting.

We are super grateful to help support teachers managing the challenges of introducing STEM-based activities into their classroom through Jonathan’s workshops. We asked him for his tips for using GroupMap graphic organizers for brainstorming workshop activities. 

 

Jonathan’s tips for using GroupMap for your STEM Workshop activities

  • Ask questions that can’t be Google’d and provoke thought.
  • Play and explore how customizable the templates are, and don’t be afraid to contact the GroupMap team for further help as they are super helpful.
  • Having technology that doesn’t get in the way means you can now have live interactive discussions so allocate more time to that aspect.
  • It’s easy to set up and test your activity beforehand so there’s no reason not to. In fact, I even tweeted it out before and after the workshop.
  • Don’t forget the discussion and analysis of the ideas themselves. This is what builds collaboration and cross-pollination.

 

Want to see how Future-ready you are? Take the Future-Ready Survey now

Want to create graphic organizers for your workshop activity? Get in touch. or find out more.

Facilitation tools and techniques for critical thinking at a Teacher’s PD workshop.

Case Background

 

Organizing workshops and brainstorming sessions can be a daunting task. If engagement levels are not high, people start to get bored. The fast-paced audience of the 21st Century demands real-time sharing of ideas to get more meaningful discussions. 

 


This case study shows how GroupMap was used by Teach for Australia (TFA) to facilitate a week-long professional development program for 80 associates and 3 workshop facilitators with multiple concurrent sessions and a range of group brainstorming, discussion and idea-sharing activities. These events are designed to cultivate learning and the acquisition of new skills, tools, and knowledge that empower associates to become more effective teachers and community leaders.

Teach for Australia is an innovative non-profit organization that aims to address the dilemma of educational disadvantage in Australia by providing all children, regardless of their background, with quality educational opportunities. 

 

They offer extensive programming and resources to both train and give support to up-and-coming teachers and leaders. These activities blend academic practice, with on-site mentoring, practical learning, and leadership development. 

 

Using GroupMap’s highly customizable tools, TFA was able to easily assist with fulfilling a wide array of tasks from scheduling of activities, generating discussion over key topics, uploading and sharing of resources, to a voting system to determine the best pitch. GroupMap addresses these demands to ensure everybody can participate without fear or worry.

Workshop and event goals

After speaking with TFA facilitators, three main goals were identified: 

  1. Provide trainers with a better way to facilitate idea sharing sessions using a range of different teaching strategies. 
  2. Create an easy way for all of the 80 participants and facilitators to share and access teaching resources. 
  3. Use a digital platform that encourages critical, creative and collaborative thinking.

Creating a Student-Focused, Collaborative Experience

With GroupMap, TFA was able to enhance their workshop using unique tools that provided real-time feedback and allowed better engagement.  Here’s how they did it!

1. An easy schedule to plan workshop activities

With GroupMap’s intuitive interface, the organizers at TFA found an easy way to plan the workshop sessions and activities, as well as share the learning materials for each session. According to Adelheid Stelter, Teaching and Leadership Adviser at TFA:

The first map we created was a schedule, outlining daily sessions… Under the individual session tabs, we then uploaded any resources needed, e.g., pre-reading articles, handouts, PowerPoint presentations or links to relevant web pages. This calendar could be accessed by all participants… was also very useful to participants for catch-up purposes…

The participants, on the other hand, found it easier to access the resources they needed including links to websites, videos, Boxx, Youtube and other resources.

 

2. Customized workshop templates for break out activities. 

TFA facilitators wanted to create a broad range of activities, such as analyzing journal articles, considering the pros and cons of assessment strategies and brainstorming and exploring alternatives and choices for classroom management case studies.



 

For each of these sessions, they were able to choose an appropriate map from GroupMap’s extensive template library and then customize it to fit the activity.  


As Stelter points out, “Each session facilitator employed a suitable map for their activities, be it a SWOT analysis of teaching resources or strategies, a brainstorm, a connect-extend-challenge reflection or a check for understanding activity such as claim, explain, question.”

 

Each template also had organized headings so people knew what was needed, could their thoughts more easily, and thus add their ideas in a more orderly fashion. These maps were run across several concurrent sessions to capture activity which could later be compared and shared in a large group setting.

 

Unlike post-it notes and butcher’s papers which could only be seen by a small handful of people, the fact that ideas were instantly collected and shared to everyone’s screens allowed everyone to see and learn from each other. This helped to both encourage greater participation and interest. Not to mention it also saved loads of time since someone did not have to retype all the handwritten notes.

 

One interesting session significantly enhanced by GroupMap’s platform was the “pitch night”. To encourage innovation in the classroom, the activity called on teachers to pitch their ideas for educational advancement to their peers. The winning presenters then received a cash prize to help bring those ideas to life. 

Their peers in the audience were able to listen to the pitch and share comments and feedback via their mobiles. At the end of the round of pitches, they could then vote for their favorite top 3 ideas. The results were tallied in real-time to determine the winner while the other presenters received valuable feedback and support on their ideas.

3. Collaborative resource sharing. 

Another big benefit TFA found when using GroupMap for their professional development workshop was that it allowed them to create a space for everyone to add and share teaching resources across subject areas and year levels. 

Participants were able to break out into their discipline areas and share their ideas for particular subjects. 

In the end, the associates had built up a resource library of subject resources that made it easier to plan their upcoming semester. This meant that each associate saved a tremendous amount of time and stress in terms of planning and gathering resources to help them plan for the term ahead.

 

 

 

Extending the Benefits

For the facilitators, the data was also particularly helpful for after-workshop reviews. “As facilitators, we downloaded reports and could see how many ideas each participant contributed and what those ideas were. GroupMap is a most valuable tool for assessment…”, states Stelter. Being able to monitor and record participation levels allowed them to implement strategies to improve future engagement among participants.

The benefits of using GroupMap are still seen even after the workshop ended. According to Stelter , TFA now has a resource depository where all the participants can continue to share and discuss ideas, strategies, resources and support beyond the seven-day training: “Following the Intensive, participants continue to share and draw ideas from this page. an excellent way of fostering a sharing teacher community spirit.”

Using GroupMap also allowed both facilitators and participants to experience firsthand the platform’s powerful teaching tools and applications, such as the virtual whiteboard and brainstorming tool, many of which can be used to enhance education in the classroom. “GroupMap… has wide applications across all aspects of teacher education as well as in-school and classroom practice. GroupMap fills a definite gap in teaching and learning practice as a partner in students’ cognitive development,” concludes Stelter.

 

Want to Learn More?

Our award-winning online collaborative brainstorming and group decision-making platform are designed to help people think better together. Use GroupMap for your next meeting, workshop or event. With our unique tools, customizable maps, easy-to-use recording and reporting, you can be sure that you and your team succeed in achieving your event outcomes. 

 

Start your 14-day free trial today, or contact us with any questions. 

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