#mm: Activation islands for face-to-face and online trainings

From passive listening to active participation

For the third time, the seminar The „Dream Team“ of frontal lecture and activation islands took place as part of the Trilogy 2020 on 13 October 2020. This time, due to Corona, not at the BIZ in Vienna, but online at BigBlueButton. Therefore, there was an additional seminar objective: activation opportunities that also work online. Michael Ziereis and Ulli Lipp were in charge at their screens.

The concept of activation islands

What are activation islands? We „normal people“ cannot concentrate on listening for long. After 20 minutes at the latest, it becomes ineffective. We should get our listeners out of the state of „being passive and listening“ as soon as possible. This is what the activation islands are for. For a short time, the participants become active, do an exercise, react to a question, write something down. Then the lecture can continue.

Many activation islands at a glance

Take a stand
Make different positions visible
Score points
weighting, evaluating, selecting
Call list
Collect and write down…
in texts, pictures…
Using the smartphone for surveys, quizzes…
Guessing questionsRiddles & quizzesCard quiz
Collecting technique for ideas, objections, previous experiences, questions…
Everyone gets a chance to speak in turn
Questions, questions, questionsShow of hands questions
„Who has ever…?“ Short questions during a presentation and answer by show of hands
Work with documents
Learning by reading, writing down…
Putting cards in order
Participants learn by deciding what belongs where
Mumble group
Exchange in neighbourhood groups, only a few minutes
aka mini-conference, buzz-groups, beehive

Activation to start and get to know each other

We started with the online version of the method „Take a stand“. This started with a map „Where are you sitting right now?“ Then we asked about previous experiences. „Taking a stand“ aka „line-up“ has become an annoying method because it is sometimes used in an inflationary way. This is different in the online version: standing up and walking about are omitted, you just move to the right position with the cursor. In BigBlueButton, the names become visible in multi-user mode and can be moved as a „tool“.

Your experiences
For me, lecturing, imparting knowledge, schooling and teaching is…
…a relatively new task
…daily business
Your experiences
For me, lecturing, imparting knowledge, schooling and teaching is…
…a relatively new task
…daily business

Arranging cards in several variations

Arranging cards
Participants learn while deciding what belongs where

The activity in the simplest version is to think about whether a statement is right or wrong. The more intensively someone has to think about it, the more she/he learns. The name „arranging cards“ comes from the original practical implementation in the face-to-face training: correct and incorrect statements are written on A3 cardboards. The participants think alone or in groups about what is right and what is wrong. By the way, we copied this method from Vietnamese colleagues who like to use it because it can also be used for their large groups of up to 100 people. They called it the „sieve method“.

This is a very simple implementation of the method for online training: I hold up the statement and the participants signal right or wrong. They could also do this with their own thumb in the picture. There is no virtual thumb in the camera image in BigBlueButton – but cards with „right“ and „wrong“ will do!
This is a version in PowerPoint. In the BigBlueButton seminar we showed the presentation in edit mode with „share screen“ and moved the cards to the participants‘ prompts. The solution to this is here.
right / wrong
1 From the age of 50, brain power declines.
2 Our brain consumes 20% of the oxygen in the body.
3 Creative thinking happens in the right hemisphere of the brain, logical thinking on the left.
4 Our brain prevents us from tickling ourselves.
5 Brain cells renew themselves.
6 We only use 10% of our brain.
This also works with PowerPoint (in edit mode) in the online version shown here. In face-to-face training, it is even nicer when some participants put their colleagues in the right order with the A3 posters in their hands. You can find the solution to this not so easy task here.
Now put the steps in the right order!
Guide with time
Collection of ideas Methodological procedure
Set of slides/documents
Learning objectives – What do I want/can I achieve?
Target group analysis
Topic/framework, concerns
Content-related building blocks

There were other variations in the seminar. Here is the presentation on the activation island „Arranging cards“.

Mentimeter – a digital tool for online and face-to-face work

This is how it works: The question appears on the screen and the participants vote directly using their smartphone or computer. It is particularly valuable because all participants are activated and the polls are anonymous. This lowers the inhibition threshold to participate. Even large groups can be easily activated in this way. In the more playful variation as a quiz, participants can measure their knowledge, as points are awarded for quick correct answers. This is a good learning anchor and increases the fun factor.

We have three tips for using Mentimeter:

  1. Always put a page with the info to log in before the quiz.
  2. Before the survey starts, check whether everyone can participate.
    (If there are some technical issues preventing one person from logging in, that’s not a big deal. They can simply participate verbally).
  3. Start with a general question.
    E.g. „How are you doing right now?“, „Are you ready?“. This will ensure that everyone has mastered voting before moving on to the substantial questions.
Surveys with Mentimeter
Open the website www.menti.com on your smartphoneHow long are your lectures usually?
If it has to be fast food, then which?10-20% of all power-outages in the USA are caused by…

Info about the tool: Mentimeter is an online tool. With an e-mail and password, you can create a free account on the Mentimeter website. In the free version, you can use two surveys and five quiz questions per presentation. However, you can create an infinite number of presentations. Therefore, for many, the free version is already sufficient.

Three more activation islands

An overview is given in the presentation „Activation islands for face-to-face and online training„. Here we take a closer look at only three selected islands.

Flash light
Every gets to talk when it’s their turn.

In the flash light, everyone responds to the same question or sentence starter after a short time for reflection. In face-to-face mode, this happens one after the other, just as the participants are seated. It is precisely this detail that makes the online flash somewhat „unwieldy“, because everyone sees a different order on the screen and does not know when it is his/her turn. We have found two ways around this difficulty. One is to take a screenshot of all participants in tile view, which is then placed on the presentation screen. The order is then the same as in the picture. As a second option, we worked with the Random Picker Wheel. Randomness then determines who is next. A mini tool that is very easy to use.

My first thought after the switch to online was…
With regard to the online format:
Two beginnings of sentences for a flash light. The first one is rather for the beginning for orientation, the second one is for the feedback at the end.

Scoring as an assessment method in the presence mode with sticky dots from the moderation kit is well known. But how do I do it in the online format? All platforms have some way of drawing or stamping something on an integrated whiteboard. In our seminar we asked our participants to mark with two circles which activation islands they would use next. The result:

We have already mentioned quizzes and puzzles in digital form in Mentimeter. There are of course other net-based quiz tools like Kahoot or Quizizz. What always goes well are well-known formats like „1, 2 or 3“ or the „Millionenshow“. But it also works quite simply with drawings or icons, where you initially leave out the associated text in the presentation and let people guess. This is an activation island that is easy to produce and takes little time to implement.

Click here for the solution.
What do the pictures
and icons mean?
Tipps for the flipchartWho are we serving?

Results from the seminar

My island project
Select an activation island for yourself and plan how to specifically use it. Describe it in a way that a reader can understand it without additional information.

During the seminar, the participants developed activation islands for their own trade union education work and for their work as referees at Refak. Here is a selection worth reading (also to copy).

Materials and collected links

Authors: Michael Ziereis and Ulli Lipp

German version

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Dieses Werk ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung-NichtKommerziell-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Österreich Lizenz.
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