~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: Face to Face vs Face to Screen
~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active
Workshops with Roger Greenaway
~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: Agile
Debriefing = Speed + Quality
~ 4 ~ THE OTHER
NEWSLETTER: Too busy to read?
~ 5 ~ ARCHIVE: Ten
time-savers for facilitators of learning
~ 6 ~ PREVIOUS ISSUE and
~ 7 ~ About Active
1 ~ EDITORIAL: Face to Face vs Face to Screen
Hidden within this editorial is a product launch that I am really
excited about. It is a step into the unknown for me because all my
career I have been a fan of face-to-face learning. This even goes back
to when I was an English teacher and refused to use TV in the
classroom. I would irritate colleagues with something like this:
watch enough TV already. Using TV in school is child-minding for lazy
teachers. When children are at school with their peers then let's make
maximum use of learning through doing, through working together,
communicating and practising English skills. They are not short of
screen watching time. They are short of English skills. Let's develop
them in the best ways we know."
And now, several years later I am encouraging people to watch videos to
help them develop their reviewing skills. It looks like I have changed
my mind after all these years. But I am pleased to say that I haven't.
The best way to develop reviewing skills is to practise them for real
or in a workshop setting. But if you do not have colleagues to support
you, or if you are not able to make it to (or offer to host) a
reviewing skills workshop, then an online video-based course could give
you better access to these skills than reading lots of tips articles
(helpful as I hope these are).
In addition, it might be some time since you attended a workshop and
seeing the videos might give you a useful reminder of the ins and outs
of a particular technique.
The course has only just been published - so as an Active Reviewing
reader you are first with the news. You can find it at this easy to
remember address: http://activereviewing.com
You can preview the introduction and three other videos for free: just
press "preview" beside "Action Replay", "Storyline" and "Missing
Person". You can also view the whole contents. Do let me know what you
think. We are ready and waiting to
make changes based on feedback we receive - a leaf out of the
Agile way of working - which the
rest of this edition is devoted to.
Just before introducing Agile I must tell you about yet another way of
learning about Active Reviewing - by listening to this podcast
on Active Reviewing in which John Tomlinson from http://trainer-tools.com
interviews me about "How
to get more from training activities using Active Reviewing"
It's about 45 minutes. John interviews many other trainers too.
I have entitled my Agile article "Agile Debriefing = Speed + Quality"
because Agile people love equations. But not all of them - as you will
discover. Agile started
out as an IT software development production process that has many,
many advantages over old-style project management. Instead of going
down the costly road of going over time and over budget producing
something that doesn't work or isn't wanted by the time it arrives,
Agile stays magically on
track, on time and is far more fun, efficient and satisfying. And it
now applies to many fields of work beyond its IT origins. Whatsmore,
debriefing right at the very
heart of the process - which is why I have
found myself presenting at Agile conferences and it is why I am sharing
some of my notes for those conferences in the article below.
Happy reading, listening, watching or doing - the choice is yours!
Active Reviewing Tips
free newsletter from Roger Greenaway that
will help you to re-charge your reviewing and facilitation skills.
- a practical feature on reviewing
- links to sites about active
- tips, comments and ideas from
- what's new in the Guide to Active
Reviewing at http://reviewing.co.uk
Maximum frequency: monthly. Average frequency: quarterly.
"16 years of promoting better
learning experiences without chalk, flipcharts or marker pens."
I welcome requests for topics you would like to see included
in Active Reviewing
Tips, any questions you would like to see answered in a FAQ, and
enquiries about trainer-training workshops (open or
just do it - actively review it!
~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing
Workshops with Roger Greenaway
I now list in-house events so that you can see if I am travelling close
by where you happen to live and work. Finding work opportunities close
together in time and space can help to save travel time, and travel
costs and make my carboin footprint a little smaller. - even for trips
within the UK.
The only public workshop listed below is for UK outdoor educators in
In-house training with Po Leung Kuk, Hong Kong
In-house training with Don Boscoe Youth Village, Macau
5th November 2015
In-house training Hymens-Robertson, Glasgow
Reviewing in the Outdoors
Borwick Hall, Lancashire
IOL training workshop with Roger Greenaway. Open to non-members.
Discover how active reviewing can engage participants as fully as any
outdoor activity and help you achieve the outcomes you offer.
For the latest information check
Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
where you will find the most up to date list of open/public workshops
provided by Roger Greenaway.
other newsletter: the Experiential-CPD Calendar
The Experiential-CPD Calendar lists 'trainer-training' and
from several UK
providers. The events listed here are of interest to
facilitators who work indoors or outdoors. The Experiential-CPD
features a 'Thought for the Month' about experiential
learning from the editors or from readers.
~ 3 ~
ARTICLE: Speed and Quality in Agile Reviewing
Agile Debriefing =
Speed + Quality
Roger Greenaway, Reviewing
What does an "Agile Debrief" look like?
How fast can we debrief?
How can we test the quality of a debrief?
How would you recognise "Agile
What does an "Agile
Debrief" look like?
know that in some Agile
meetings everyone is expected to stand. I have assumed that this
tradition is about keeping things moving and pacey. Perhaps standing
is a very mild workout for legs that have been sitting for too long?
Maybe this small increase in physicality shunts more oxygen to the
brain and keeps everyone awake and alert? (at least for the first few
minutes). What if other Agile principles are applied meticulously to
meetings and debriefings. What would they look like? Let's get beyond
this standing start!
do Agile principles
apply to the debriefing process itself? I have selected three Agile
features that have the potential to improve the quality and
efficiency and productivity of an Agile debrief. These are:
explore each of
"Pace" we will
be exploring how much we can speed up the debriefing process. What
can we cut out? Where can we take short cuts? How can we save time?
How can we quickly find the points at which it is worth slowing down
risk slowing things down as we check for understanding, or test
assumptions, conclusions or commitments. And we can continually
evaluate the debrief process itself to check if it is working
optimally. The right kind of slowing down can help us to go faster!
swing the pendulum right away from the annual review to cultivating
the habit of fast, frequent feedback. We will try out techniques that
help to keep each other on track and continually in tune with how
what we do influences others in our work environment.
How fast can we
is "too fast",
"too slow" and "just right" (even if your "just
right" is not the same pace as my "just right"). What
we are really looking for is the optimal speed for a debrief. How
much can we step on the gas without losing quality, meaning and
extremes are quite easy
can be superficial and insensitive, discouraging inputs that are
deep, critical, creative or controversial – the kinds of voices
that could really help us learn something new and valuable in the
debrief. Push too hard on the fast button and you get flippancy,
clichés, groupthink and compliance – the enemies of learning.
and you can be waiting your turn forever while listening to endless
repetition on a topic in which your interest is rapidly waning. If
you weren't standing up you would be asleep by now.
how do you find the right
- use a pace gauge (once or continuously).
do you quickly find the
- use a search technique
the process is not
working for someone, how can they stop
- with a stop card.
can you keep
and to the point?
- use summarisers
if there is conflict
and poor listening?
- switch to writing messages between interest
can we take short
- let people guess the conclusion and check for
can we speed
- make pairs or small groups the default
you want to go faster in
a debrief, keep "speed" on the agenda: keep asking "How
can we do debriefs faster without losing quality?" - using a
suitably fast method!
still? My article
time-savers for facilitators of learning" (pdf, 5 pages)
includes estimates of the percentage of time saved with each
time-saving method described.
How can we test the
quality of a debrief?
might well involve
checking on the quality of (say) teamwork or leadership. But what
about checking on the quality of the debrief itself – both the
quality of the debrief process and the quality of
outcomes from the debrief. What
scope is there for testing the
quality of the debrief as part of the debrief itself?
we have time to check
quality? We find time for quality checks when making products. If we
don't find time for quality checks when "making" learning
(in a debrief) it implies that we do not value learning enough.
the key is to give
permission, encouragement and opportunity for people to have frequent
conversations about the quality of learning. This can be assisted by
providing methods and resources that help to make these conversations
kind of quality testing
is a mutually supportive process. All participants in such a
conversation stand to win if the result is improved quality or the
sustaining of high quality.
is the best timing for
testing the quality of a debrief? Waiting to the end of the process
is not very "Agile" because this can result in participants
tolerating a low quality debrief. The basic options for the timing of
a quality test are:
at any time anyone
wants to test for quality
a scheduled time-out
mid-way through a debrief
a parallel process of
continual quality monitoring
at the end of the
debrief (if the same team will be having further debriefs)
people to commit to
a debrief of a debrief could meet with some resistance even in an
Agile workforce: "We've got work to do!" "Next you'll
be asking us to have a debrief of the debrief of the debrief!"
I would probably not go
that far! (but I might)
How would you recognise "Agile
qualities should Agile
feedback have? It clearly would not be the "avalanche" or
"waterfall" of feedback received in an annual review.
Little and often would be the Agile way. If Agile feedback were fully
embedded in an organisation it would become a natural part of
everyday conversation. But until that ideal state is reached it is
helpful to have a variety of methods that help to make feedback
happen and to make it:
feedback is not an
enjoyable enough process people become less keen to give it or
feedback is not
worthwhile people will find more important things to do with their
feedback is not engaging
then it cannot be enjoyable or worthwhile.
if feedback is not
frequent people can spend days and weeks feeling unnoticed, out of
the loop and unsure of their value.
habit of fast, frequent
feedback helps people to keep each other on track with their task and
in tune with others. It also helps to generate a heightened sense of
responsibility and significance.
worthwhile and enjoyable (and quick) feedback methods are:
Simultaneous Survey -
a colleague collects feedback for you on a question that you ask,
while you and others are doing the same for other colleagues.
Spokes – starts
with an instant snapshot self-assessments on a physical scale,
followed by endorsements and invitations from others to move up the
scale – if deserved.
Goal Keepers – a
visual feedback process that runs in real time alongside a task. The
process begins with a request for feedback on a specific area of
Empathy Test –
involves guessing how a partner would rate themselves in a specific
area of performance. It is a guessing game that deepens insights
into self and others.
a suitable feedback
game depends on how accustomed people are to giving and receiving
feedback. If you get it right people will be looking forward to the
next feedback game – not because they are becoming feedback
junkies, but because they recognise it value in a productive learning
4 ~ THE OTHER NEWSLETTER: Too busy to read?
the summer do you have less time to read or more time to read?
Summer gives us longer days and more time for enjoying and/or providing
outdoor activities. Does reading wait for the quieter winter months?
I used to read most in the summer. This would be during climbing trips
to the Alps. I loved the climbing. I also loved the "fester" days – of
eating, sleeping and reading. After all, recovering well on lazy days
meant more energy for climbing on the other days.
I was reading books but I wasn't reading nature. I would learn what I
could about avalanche risks because such knowledge would help to keep
me alive – so I would try to read snow slopes. I would also try to read
the weather. But when my climbing friends stopped to show me rare
plants, I would only stop out of politeness and would not loiter for
In our work we need to read groups. Now that does interest me.
Understanding how groups behave is essential for group facilitators and
is important for everyone else. But how do we actually read groups?
Do we step back and watch? This gives a remote view which may be
helpful, but the key to understanding some groups may not be visible
from a distance.
So do we join in and get close enough to understand the group from the
inside? We may pick up useful clues, but the tightrope of being both in
and out of the group can be a difficult one to walk.
Perhaps we could get the group talking about what is going in the group
while we listen in? They should probably be doing this anyway because
such communication is usually a major factor in achieving challenges
and learning objectives.
In 'Group Action', Martin Ringer has another way of reading groups - as
a facilitator you look inside yourself: you read "yourself" first as it
might help you to read the group. You recognise that although you have
a special role with the group you are still a part of the group. Your
own feelings let you know something about what it is like to be part of
this group at this time: another source of useful clues.
I find it difficult to read a group when they are sitting still. I find
it much easier to read a group when they are facing a variety of
different tasks and challenges. A disengaged or inactive group is like
a blank page to me – there is nothing much to read. But when a group is
engaged and active it is as if the page quickly fills with words and
clues and "reading the group" becomes much easier.
It also becomes much easier for the group to read itself if we help
participants to see the clues and the words – so that instead of
getting lost in the whirl of group activity they can do plenty of
"reading" at the same time: noticing self, noticing others, noticing
the process and noticing the environment.
We should not be too busy to read and neither should the groups we are
working with be too busy to read. Given time and encouragement to share
what they are reading, everyone becomes a better reader, and those
fuzzy learning outcomes start to come into a clearer focus.
thoughts on this or other topics are always welcome.
These reflections first
appeared as a Thought for the Month in a recent Experiential-CPD
Calendar of UK trainer-training events
5 ~ ARCHIVE: Ten time-savers for facilitators of learning
time-savers for facilitators of learning" (pdf, 5 pages)
6 ~ PREVIOUS ISSUE and FUTURE ISSUES
See the previous issue of Active Reviewing
from Triumphs and Disasters
Topics under consideration for future issues
- The Active Reviewing Cycle: update
- Making the case for active reviewing
- Making reviewing a memorable experience
- Reviewing as a takeaway skill for
- Evaluating Active Reviewing: how well
does it work?
- Reviewing for different outcomes (using
the same activities)
- End of programme reviews
- Co-facilitating reviews
- The art of improvising
- Remote Reviewing
- Reviewing over a cup of tea (informal
- Readers' Questions about Reviewing
(please feed me with questions for this 'FAQ')
- Sample designs for learning and
- Integrated practice in experiential
learning (when does an activity become a review? when does a review
become an activity? examples of integrated practice - and do these
challenge or demonstrate experiential learning theory?)
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any topics you would like to see included or put at the top
of this list (which is not yet in any particular order).
7 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips
TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
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