Thursday, March 31, 2011

Youth (R)Evolution - State of the Art of Youth Work in Moldova, 24-25 March 2011

The today's youth worker should be modern, professional and should know about social media such as facebook, twitter and Odnoklasniki. Opportunities should be created for 'Youth Workers' to get credentials for their profession through non-formal education by NGOs and formal education by educational institutions. Job placement opportunities should be created for young people in Moldova to gain practical working experiences. These were some of the recommendations given by Youth, Adults, NGO's, local institutions and governmental organisations at the Conference Youth (R)Evolution in Moldova held on the 24 - 25 March, 2011 in Chisinau, Moldova.

This Conference was the final stage of the Project 'Youth in the Center' (financed by Matra), which has been implemented by Procommunity Centre (Moldova) in close co-operation with Hogeschool Windesheim & Kontakt der Kontinenten (The Netherlands) and Proni Centre for Social Education (Croatia). The aim of the project was to create and build sustainable structures for youth work in Moldova and disseminate the 'best practices' in the country. See video for impressions at the Conference:

Results project 'Youth in the Center'
During the last two years youth clubs were formed in four pilot communities (Vadul Rascov, Varnita, Ulmu and Cotiujenii Mari) supported by local structures (adults, parents, local government and schools). National NGOs (such as Procommunity Centre) and local civil society organisations have linked up with the youth clubs for technical advise and support. Opportunities for young Moldovan students from the Moldovan State University were created to have work practicals. And local trainers and youth workers strengthened their skills through exchange with partners from The Netherlands and Croatia.

The Conference - the process & recommendations Analysing the current State of the Art of Youth Work in Moldova and looking forward were the main aims of the conference. Supported by speeches from the Deputy Minister of Social Protection Mr. Vadim Pistrinciuc, Vice speaker of the Parliament - Mrs. Liliana Palihovici and the Consul of the Dutch Embassy, Mr. Rolf de Groof the 90 participants (youth, adults, parents, representatives from institutions and government, NGOs and civil society organisations) analysed in small groups the strengthes, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) for youth work in Moldova. Followed by discussions on 1) Profile of the Youth Worker, 2) Structure for Youth Work, 3) Advantages and disadvantages of (non) formal education for youth workers, and 4) Sustainability of youth clubs. The highlight of the Conference was the formation of a pyramid built by representatives from the 4 working groups. Each working group came up with 9 recommendations (9 symbolic building blocks) on how to strengthen the 'Youth Work in Moldova' in the coming 3 years.
Main conclusions and recommendations were:
* The today's youth worker should be modern and professional;
* youth clubs should have a stable support from their national and local enviroment;
* Invest in youth work and young people (training, resource support);
* Create more opportunities for job placements and practical should be created;
* Create credentials for youth workers and strengthen the profession through non-formal education for youth work by NGO's and formal education by the institutions

The Conference was closed with a joint meal where the participants watched Participatory Video's which were produced by the Youth from the 4 villages during the final part of the project. See video: Watching participatory video's and see video about PV process. The participatory video's of each youth club can be watched at youtube: See video's; Youth club Ulmu, Youth club Cotiujenii Mari, Youth club Varnita & Youth club Vadul Rascov.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music as tool for brainstorming; ten links at youtube

Music provides some excellent opportunities to stimulate people to use their imagination and gain deeper thoughts. Especially during brainstorm sessions when people think individually, music can create atmospheres of phantasy or help you to imagine you are in a different environment (forest, sea, travelling etc....). Hereby some instrumental music I am using for brainstorm sessions.

Classical music
1. Beethoven/ Moonlight Sonata (in a rain and a storm)/ 6.19 minutes
2. Mahler / Symphony 5 / performed by Berliner Philarmoniker - Herbert von Karajan/ 7.54 minutes

Meditation music
3. Meditation / 7.13 minutes

Music related to nature
4. Oshoites/ close to nature/ performed by Ishan Khera/ 7.50 minutes

Celtic Music
5. Simon and Garfunkul / Scarborough Fair (instrumental)/ - 3.26 minutes
6. Kyrie / Le Baiser Dernier - 5.16 minutes
7. Lorenzo / Erotica - 9.48 minutes

Italian Music
8. Laura Pausini / Instrumental Tra te e il mare / 3.53 minutes

Modern symfonic music
9. Alan Parsons project/ Time machine - instrumental/ 3.41 minutes
10. Rene Dupéré/ Alegria / 5.32 minutes.

In case you have more suggestions for music which are helpful for brainstorm sessions, please leave a comment with a link at this post.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

En_Nu_Online; Inspiring book providing tips about online facilitation!

According to a wide based research of the American government around 80 % of learning is informal. People learn most when they do 'learning on the job' and do a 'critical self-reflection or in social interaction with others'. Only 20 % is mastered through formal learning situations such as reading, participating in trainings, coaching, teamwork meetings and participating in networks. According to Joitske Hulsebosch and Sibrenne Wagenaar, authors of En_Nu_Online , social media play an increasing role in the informal learning proces of professionals. After having a particular experience which emotionally touch professionals, they search for information or peers at the internet. Discussion groups such as Linkedin, facebook and listserver groups provide a platform to do 'informal learning' by reflection and social interaction with colleagues.

The authors Joitske Hulsebosch and Sibrenne Wagenaar highlight 3 dimensions on how you can use and apply social media to build your capacities as a professional.
1. To develop your own strategy of learning and profiling yourself.
2. How to apply social media tools for strengthening teamwork
3. How to facilitate an online exchange process

ExamplesSome useful examples are given on how professionals succeeded in applying social media in their work. One professional explains that he uses twitter to update his professional competencies. 'Everyday I gain valuable information, youtube videos and useful links which I use in my trainings.'

Generally interviewees confirm it takes around 60 days to adapt new behaviour. One manager of an NGO says; 'Before I thought it would take too much of my time, but now I have integrated Linkedin discussions, twitter and reading blogposts in my work. I can not imagine a life without. I have much quicker access to strategic information and do not feel obliged to ask assistance for pending questions. It has changed my perspective on how to manage affairs.'

A teammanager confirms their discussion platform and blogspot has deepened their quality of work. 'Before we have our f2f meetings, we can share and express our concerns or issues at a wiki platform. When we have our f2f meetings we can easier touch the most sensitive issues. We also share stories about new developments and trends at our blogspot. Every week a team member reads a book or an interesting article and publishes an article at our blog. I have noticed that if a teammember commits himself to write an article, it helps to get things (such as reading a book) accomplished.'
Online facilitationOnline facilitation is still a new domain which needs to be explored further. Useful examples are given on how to set up an online process with skype and discussion groups. Blogposts and wikis are used to document information and build up institutional memory with a group. E-conferences and Communities of Practise (CoPs) are some tangible examples where the support of an online facilitator is needed. Simon Koolwijk conducted last year jointly a E-Conference with the Hendrik Kraemer Institute and the Act Allicance to exchange experiences about International Humanitarian Law. See an evaluation at: E-Conference?! Technology for the good!

Joitske Hulsebosch and Sibrenne Wagenaar address 8 competencies (based on a publication of Nancy White) an online facilitator should have:
1. Self perception; have an insight in own strengthes and weaknesses;
2. Ability to communicate online;
3. Joint learning capability
4. Facilitation skills with a feeling for group dynamics and interaction;
5. Intercultural sensitivity and experience and how to deal with cultural differences;
6. High level of tolerance in dealing with different perspectives and types of communication;
7. Capacity to set up (online) discussion processes.
8. Synthetic capacities: Abilities to summarize and keep overview.

Combinations of f2f meetings with online interchangeSibrenne Wagenaar stresses that online discussion processes combined with f2f meetings work best. 'When people meet each other face to face, they get a feeling for somebody else and they build relationships in addressing each other when group tasks need to be accomplished. Therefore a f2f component is prefered in building an effective group through online interchange.' However, online interchange adds a new dimension. Joitske Hulsebosch says; 'People have different conversations (more indepth and meaningfull) with each other f2f after they have exchanged experiences online'. 'It also matches people today's needs of flexibility and mobility.'
On the 19th May 2011 the International Association of Facilitators - Benelux (IAF) organises a workshop in Utrecht, where Joitske and Sibrenne will update professional facilitators about the opportunities with online facilitation. The workshop will opportunities to practise with online facilitation. For more information>>>

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ten online games for facilitation or training!

Last week I attended a seminar about Gaming which was organised by Saganet, a platform promoting gaming for professional purposes (education, training, organisational development). At the moment around 80 % of the young people in The Netherlands regulary play computer games. An increasing number of adults regularly are playing games for fun. At the moment the Gaming Industry generates a multiple factor of income on what is earned in the filmindustry.

Martijn Koops, lecturer at Hogeschool Utrecht, mentions the term 'Edutainment' to match educational objectives of trainers/ teachers with the living world of the todays generation. Through the 'Game Cycle' the today's generation learns through Action Learning. First play the game, experiment and after that apply reflective exercises to gain lessons and link them to theoretical concepts. Ineke Verheul, Director of Game On, stresses that there are already sufficient existing commercial games (online and offline) to support 'educational processes'. There is no need to invest huge amounts of money in developing new games, but use the ones that are already there! She bases her experiences on research she conducted during the past years.
Based on discussions with colleagues, teachers and trainers recommended that games (online and offline) are most useful for facilitation, training or teaching when, they:
- are simple (easy to understand and not supported by huge manuals) and low profile;
- take less than 15 minutes;
- are easy accessible by computer (no complications in accessing by computer)
- look professional & have the appropriate music or sounds
- are challenging and stimulate a process of learning
- are fun to play.

Last week, I did some research myself on the internet. Based on my experience with games, I discovered the 10 online games which are fun to play and easy to embed in a training or facilitation event:
1. Formula 1 racing2. Tennis3. Playing Patience (card game)4. Games People Play (mens erger je niet)5. Pinball game6. Slots (fruit gambling machine)7. Monopoly8. Gold roulette game9. Pecman10. Bowling
Of course you can also ask your participants to surf for a game at the internet and ask them to present. The blogspot Beter Gamen provides some useful hints where to find and how to use games in your trainings.

Please feel free to share more or links of games which can be used for trainings or facilitation events.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What a facilitator can contribute to effective teamwork?

Building a good atmosphere was mentioned as one of the most important ways to build effective teamwork during the training facilitation methods on the 9th and 10th March, 2011 in Utrecht. The training was led by Simon Koolwijk, Facili2transform with participants from the Hendrik Kraemer Institute and ICCOenKerkinActie.

Chemistry and a feeling of trust amongst the teammembers are important pré-conditions for building effective teamwork. If the relations are good, teammembers are open to give each other feedback and address each others' responsibilities in getting things accomplished. It creates a platform to share and have common values. A joint history creates an ambiance of togetherness.

Photo: The product of the 9 - 10 March 2011 group of participants, 'What are practical ways to build effective teamwork? '
What can a facilitator do to enhance teamwork?The role of the facilitator is to guide the process of group development aiming at enhancing the effectivity of the group. Following are some hints what a facilitator can do to stimulate this proces;

* Have a warm and welcoming attitude. Make sure that you are already there at least half an hour in your meeting room before the participants arrive, so that they have the feeling that they enter a room where they feel welcomed. * Create conditions that people feel safe to communicate
* Use creative methods challenging people to discover new insights
* Ensure that the meeting place feels comfortable, welcoming and challenging. Colors, toys, enough light, different roomsettings, fresh air stimulate people to feel, think and act differently
* Stimulate fun by 'energizers'
* Treat the inner body of the participant by healthy food (fruit), fresh liquids and drinking water
* Find a balance between formal and informal parts in the programme, so that people can balance intensive work with relaxed work. Informal moments create the stage for people to know the 'other life' of their colleagues.
* Ensure the 8 B's for reflexion and creativity by selecting an attractive meeting venue; Bed, Bar, Bath (shower), Bench (the couch), Beautiful forest, Beditation (meditation of the brain), Bizar fun and Balance (formal and informal)
* Ensure that there are regular moments of monitoring & evaluation of the group processes so that it can foster the growth of the group. More useful hints can be found in the book 'Ontwerpen van Traningen' - author Karin de Galan.

Training Facilitation MethodsThe two-day training facilitation methods conducted by Facili2transform is a hands-on training for people who would like to advance their skills in facilitation and guiding groups. The course deals with the Technology of Participation techniques (ToP). These methods are powerful, very basic and simple in what facilitation is about. After getting the theoretical principles of facilitation, the participants get an experience about two basic techniques (basic conversation and brainstorm consensubuilding method). During the second day of the training participants practise and get feedback about their facilitation skills. The training is not only about methods, but also participants get a feeling on how to deal with resistance and difficult participants. For more information about the next course, see

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Theatresports, a tool for facilitation

Theatresports and improvisation are the themes in the book: 'Theater vanuit het niets'- Author André Besseling. The book reminds me of a theatre sports event, I experienced in the summer of 2009 with Preau in France.

Theatresports event
Two teams of 6 people each were created out of a group of 60 people. The ones who were not part of the playing teams, were the audience. They received toys and sponges for showing their discontent. And roses for expressing their enthousiasm. The event was led by one facilitator and three judges. The games were supported by somebody playing the piano. The judges voted for the performances by giving scores from 1 (bad performance) to 5 (excellent performance). We played 5 games.

1. Word limit scene
One by one participants from each team were asked to phrase a sentence without a vowel. The first team was not allowed to mention the letter 'e'. Whenever used 'e' the person was off. Each team had a maximum of 5 minutes, to have not more than 6 mistakes (one by each person). After 3 minutes team no. 1 was already off. Team no. 2 was not allowed to use the vowel 'a'. They made it up to 4 minutes.

2. Singing a fake song
Each team was invited to delegate a member to sing a song. The goal was 'not' to sing the best as possible, but to sing as fake as possible. One group imitated the 'Wilhelmus' - the national anthem and the other 'Dromen zijn bedrog' from Marco Borsato.' After that the judges were asked to give points to the most fake singing group. Finally there was no winner. Both teams scored a total of 12 points.

Video: The Art of Improvisation of Theatre Sport

3. The car and the lifter
Two frameworks of two cars consisting of 6 chairs each were put on the stage. From each team two people were invited to start driving (imaginal) with the car. After one minute they picked up their first lifter. The first lifter brought in an emotion (happy!) and all the others had to copy this behaviour. The second lifter brought in another emotion, whereafter all the others in the car had to internalize and express the new emotion. After five minutes the game was over. Time for the judges to give their points. Team no. 1 scored 13 points, against 10 of Team no. 2. Most spectators of the audience did not agree, and threw sponges and toys to the judges. However, there were also a couple of roses that passed the floor.

4. The quiz with absurd questions
Each team had 3 representatives. Each time one of the team members was asked to respond to an absurd questions and the two other team members had to answer by vizualisation. Questions were: "what would you tell your wife, if you came home after visiting your secret lover? ". "What would you do if one of your best friends would give a snake to you as a birthday present?" The role plays were hilarious and made many people to laught. Eventually both teams got a similar score from the Jury. Both teams received 15 points. It generated applaus and roses from the audience.

5. Story telling
Each team got 5 minutes to tell and share a story. The first person in the team started with one phrase. The second person continued with another sentence. And so it continued....... Whenever, a climax came into the story, the faciliator intervened by giving the group a new direction. Finally, after both teams had finalized the story, the jury asked the audience to vote by screaming. Eventually both teams got as much support in loudness, that the jury declared that both teams were announced as winners of the evening.

This is one of the examples on how theatresports can be performed. And theatresports is one of the disciplines in the art and profession of Improvisation Theatre.

What can you do with theatresports as a trainer or facilitator?
The main goal of theatresports is not winning, but to live with the moment and be as creative as possible. Other goals are to gain confidence by making mistakes and to accept errors and consider them as opportunities. It is about creating a safe atmosphere and to accept the ideas of others. Therefore, theatresports is an excellent tool to build confidence in a group and to create a culture of making and accepting each others' mistakes. Especially with groups who are more in the head than in the body, 'Theatresports' can make a difference.

The book: 'Theater vanuit het niets'- Author André Besseling provides also a compilation of warm up exercises. Some are excellent to be used for trainings, workshops or facilitation events. Andre Besseling is one of the founding fathers of the Theatresports Association in Amsterdam.

The International Theatresports Institute is the licensor and founding father of the theatresports.