Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ten energizers, games and exercises for training and facilitation on video

Games, energizers and exercises can be very useful in creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere in the group, but they can also be very helpful in building understanding in complex knowledge transfer or planning processes. Nicole Kienhuis and Simon Koolwijk filmed 10 exercises on video, which can be applied for trainings or facilitation events.
1. Trust:  This is a physical exercise, which helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the group. Finally it helps to build more trust amongst group members during an event.  Watch video:  Trust.
2. Two truths and a lie: This exercise is very practical for getting to know each other in the beginning of an event. It can help to break the ice and can stimulate a humoristic atmosphere in the group. Watch video:  Two truths and a lie.
3. Structured thinking: This exercise is a powerful introduction in explaining the importance of structured thinking. Especially in processes such as planning, design and curriculum development the exercise builds understanding why structured thinking can be very crucial in certain planning and development processes: Watch video:  Structured thinking.

4. Brainteaser:  ‘Think before you act!’ is the message of this exercise. Especially if strategic decisions need to be taken, this exercise builds understanding that thorough discussion and research is required. Watch video: Brainteaser.
5. The minefield: ‘Rely on the information from your partner!’  This is a teambuilding exercise which challenges people’s roles in accepting and relying on leadership. Watch video: The minefield.
6. Expressing emotions:  ‘Exaggerate your emotions’.  This exercise also helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the group. By exaggerating emotions people start to discover their potential on how they can express emotions in role plays or behavioral exercises. Watch video: Expressing emotions. 
7. The value of doubting:   Being too confident or too sure you have the right answer, can block people to be open-minded for new perspectives. This game challenges people to continuously doubt about the right answer. Watch video: The value of doubting.
8. Recognizing changes:  This exercise is an eye-opener in making people sharp in recognizing changes. It is a simple exercise, but definitely challenges people’s observations’ skills. Watch video: Recognizing changes.

9. Make your own circle:  “Think out of the box!”  Solutions can be very simple, but to find them requires a new way of creative thinking. This exercise is a good introduction in preparing people on ‘out of the box’ brainstorm sessions and developing their creativity.  Watch video:  Make your own circle.

10. Playful connections: A game about interaction.  It is a relaxing exercise in testing people’s concentration and focus in listening and responding.  The video shows how it can be applied for introducing a training session on social media.  But you can also use other words for introducing other training or discussion topics. Watch video:  Playful connections.  

If you want to consult literature on games and energizers, we advise Warming-ups and Energizers, author:  Marcel Karreman – 2010.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Technology of participation (ToP) – practical, useful, basic facilitation methods for increasing learning results in teaching

"Teach and train what inspires you!” This is an advice I got long time ago from a French teacher, when I was participating in a language course in Paris. “Read and study what interests you and teach what inspires you!”, he said. “This always makes learning easy! Because it gives energy!” “Inspiration from a teacher, always has an impact on others”.  “So study and teach, what you like to teach!”
This life story always comes back to me, when I train facilitators and teachers in the Technology of Participation Techniques (ToP). It is always fun to create an atmosphere of involvement and participation! The techniques are useful tools to optimize people’s/ student’s participation in the classroom. ToP has been developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs – USA. In 1997 I was trained as a senior trainer in ToP methods in Phoenix, USA. There I had the opportunity to meet professionals in education, youth work and social work on how they had integrated the ToP basic facilitation methods in their work.  These visits inspired me to become a facilitator and trainer in facilitation and participatory educational techniques, as I am currently today. 

The Technology of Participation (ToP) methods
The ToP methods are basic facilitation methods, which have been tested in more than 50 countries around the world, in 24 time zones in various sectors in profit and non-profit organizations. The methods are simple, participatory, user friendly and have proven to be effective in different cultural settings around the world. The methods are culturally worldwide accepted and effective.
The ToP facilitation methods consist of 4 basic methods:

1. The Basic Conversation Method; A focus group discussion technique, that enables people to share observations, emotions, meaning and decisions.

2. The Brainstorm Workshop Method; A brainstorm method which generates ideas and perspectives from a core question assessing the knowledge in a group. Gradually the facilitator guides the group in bringing together individual ideas into prioritized and summarized answers, based on a consensus. Finally, the group reflects  and takes decisions on how it wants to move forward.
3. Action planning; In a 2 – 4 hour process, the group is taken through a journey of vizualisation, assessing the current reality, goal and commitment formulation, action and time planning. This technique enables groups to plan project in an efficient and participatory way.
4. Participatory Strategic Planning; The group is taken through a process of identifying its values and beliefs and is guided in formulating its mission and vision statement. In the current situation the group takes a step back and reflects on its fears and barriers. From there strategic choices are priortized and selected and concretisized into an operational plan of action. This method enables to ensure active participation of key stakeholders in strategic decision making.

Practical and useful for teaching and training
Each time when I conduct a training, teach a lesson or facilitate a workshop, I apply elements of the ToP methodology.  The Basic Conversation method is very practical in discussing video’s, role plays, literature, relevant key topics or even resolving difficult situations or conflicts in a group. I apply it regularly in monitoring and evaluation trajectories. The Basic Conversation Method can excellently be embedded in the Adult Learning Cycle (KOLB) for teaching practices. By asking questions, already a lot of knowledge and information is gathered from the group, before adding additional knowledge by the teacher or experts in the theoretical phase of the lesson.
The brainstorm workshop method is powerful in visualization and planning processes. It involves every member in the group and supports building ownership and consensus step by step. I apply this method many times in teaching and training situations for identifying the existing knowledge in the group.  It also fits perfectly in the Adult Learning Cycle (KOLB), and is a useful tool for monitoring and evaluation.
Technology of Participation (ToP) in The Netherlands
Training in the Technology of Participation methods are conducted by Facili2transform inThe Netherlands. Read more about ToP Training courses Group Facilitation Methods (GFM) and Participatory Strategic Planning (PSP).