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Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips ~ ISSN 1465-8046
Active Reviewing Tips is a free monthly publication from Reviewing Skills Training.

  Active Reviewing Tips 17.4 - "We Just Want Fun!"


~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: We Just Want Fun 

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: We Just Want Fun

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

~ 5 ~ TIPS: 6 of the best ways to end a training programme

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Reviewing for Fun


~ 8 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL:  We Just Want Fun

Some time ago I worked as a sailing instructor. My first question to the guests would be: "Do you want to learn to sail or do you want to have fun?" They were guests, so they would choose. The fun choice usually meant being pirates and having water fights. (They were quite young guests.)

But the choice between "Fun" and "Learning" is rarely so simple - and especially when it comes to "active reviewing" which is usually an attempt to do both at the same time.

In your role as a facilitator of learning, I am sure you have encountered groups who are not as  interested in the learning objectives as you would like them to be, and who will be happy enough just doing the activities and having fun together. And before you know it, the learning programme has become a recreational programme.

So the main article in this issue (We Just Want Fun) presents some ideas about how you can move things in the other direction so that participants become more committed to the learning without necessarily losing their appetite for enjoyment.

This issue also introduces the new series: 'Six of the best' starting with "Six of the best ways to end a training programme."

This is where you are just now - and a special welcome if this is your first issue:

Active Reviewing Tips is a free newsletter from Roger Greenaway that will help you to re-charge your reviewing and facilitation skills.

Typical contents:

  • a practical feature on reviewing tips
  • links to sites about active learning methods
  • tips, comments and ideas from readers
  • 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."

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 in-house).

Roger Greenaway

Don't just do it - actively review it!

~ 2 ~ EVENTS: Active Reviewing Workshops with Roger Greenaway

The Calendar of Reviewing Skills Training Workshops
provides the most up to date list of open/public workshops provided by Roger Greenaway.

The other newsletter: the Experiential-CPD Calendar
The Experiential-CPD Calendar lists 'trainer-training' and 'educator-training' events from several UK providers. The events listed here are of interest to facilitators who work indoors or outdoors. The Experiential-CPD calendar features a 'Thought for the Month' about experiential learning from the editors or from readers.

Active Reviewing Online
Have you taken a look at my new online training course on Active Reviewing?
Please let me know what you think: roger@reviewing.co.uk

~ 3 ~ ARTICLE: We Just Want Fun

"We Just Want Fun!"

Which is the best strategy to use in this situation?

by Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

[The first article in this series was "The Forgetful Navigator". It was about productive ways of reviewing a situation in which one person is very embarrassed and feels they have let down the group. If you missed it follow this link to The Forgetful Navigator.]

"We just want fun!" is the second of a series of articles in which the starting point is a situation that you might have faced already or that you might face in the future - as a facilitator of learning.

As you read through the article, please consider which of these methods would be your own favourite response to the situation. If your favourite method is not described, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk and share your own favourite.


"We just want fun!"

You are well prepared for facilitating this course. You have met the client who is paying for the course and the client has been very clear about the learning objectives. You have listened to the designer and director of the course explain how and why the course has been organised in support of the key learning objectives. Your success, in large part, is the extent to which you can please all parties involved: the client, your boss and the group you are working with.

You meet the group. They seem quite well motivated. But their motivation seems to melt away when you mention aims and objectives. You sense some resistance and you wonder if it would be wiser to ask participants to set their own objectives. This would give you a starting point and their objectives will probably tie in with the course objectives anyway. You can sort out any significant differences later.

But the group's spokesperson says "We just want fun!" and this seems to be echoed by everyone else. You are probably failing to hide your concerns about how on earth you are going to get from this starting point to a finishing point that will leave the group, the client and your director fully satisfied and with significant learning outcomes achieved.

Here are some choices for you.

Option 1: work towards a better climate for learning (aided by physical movement)

Write up their words "We just want fun!" and confirm that this is a statement they all support.

Now write up the words "We want fun!"  (missing out "just")

You say ... 

"OK - your first bit of fun is a word game. Please all stand." [pause while they stand] "You are all standing in the middle of a spectrum. One end of the spectrum - over there - represents the view "I just want fun and nothing else". The other end of the spectrum - over here - represents the view "I want fun and I am happy to learn interesting and useful things along the way, so long as it's fun". 

"You can choose to stand at any point on this spectrum, depending on what you really want for yourself from this course."

You hope that there will be some spreading out along the spectrum, but whether the group is in one huddle or is spread out along the spectrum, this next stage applies:

"Please find someone you are standing close to and sit down with them with a pen and paper and make two lists: (1) experiences you do want and (2) experiences you don't want during this course." Alternatively you can give out large sticky notes to each pair, asking them to place "wanted experiences" on one colour (eg green) and "not wanted experiences" using the other colour (eg orange).

All the results are put on display at the places where people were standing in the spectrum. You now ask everyone to tour the exhibition of statements, reading what others have written. (This also gives you time to take a look and think ahead.)

When everyone has had sufficient reading and thinking time, ask them to sit down in a circle. If you have spotted any unrealistic or unreasonable expectations you should say so, but the chances are that most of these expectations (expressed as experiences) are realistic and reasonable and compatible with the course objectives.

Now ask participants to come up with a list of "do's and don'ts"  that will help them to make wanted experiences more likely and unwanted experiences less likely.To add to the challenge and value of this exercise request that do's outnumber don'ts.

Option 1 will help you bring out individual differences and create a useful discussion within the group that gives you as a facilitator much more room for manoeuvre than at first appeared. You are also responding directly to the kinds of concerns that can get in the way of learning. And the do's and don'ts exercise can readily lead to a contract based on ground rules that will help to create a supportive climate for learning.

Option 2: use fun as a starting point - with fun activities and fun reviews

You: "That's a great attitude to come with because it matches the schedule for the start of this programme. It's best to start with fun and get more focused later."

Self-appointed spokesperson: "But we just want fun! We don't want other stuff later."

You: "What's stopping us getting started? ... I cannot guarantee that these games are going to be non-stop fun for everyone all of the time. Not everyone has the same ideas about what makes an activity fun. But a lot of groups I have worked with have had fun doing these activities. Are you ready?"

What now happens is a series of short activities which were probably already designed into the programme. The only difference is that your briefing for each activity does not use the language of learning objective and outcomes: it is the minimum briefing necessary for people to understand and enjoy the activity.

What you are hoping for is plenty of reviewable incidents during these opening activities - possibly where people are not having much fun because they are not being listened to, or they are not given a turn or they feel insulted or embarrassed. The theme of such reviews might be "Let's do better at making things fun for everyone".

But reviewable incidents are not necessarily negative ones, so a more positive angle would be to provide or generate positive feedback all round - to bring everyone's attention to how they are contributing to fun - by including others, supporting others, taking the initiative, suggesting improvements, helping with good decision-making, speaking up for others ...

Option 2 is really a change of emphasis and a change of language - but there is a particular risk that if reviews are experienced as dull and boring (or "not fun") that you end up with an "activities only" programme with any useful learning left to chance. So option 2 needs to be combined with review methods that are mostly fun and positive. For example: Action Replay can be fun and Spokes can be very positive.

If you are not familiar with these methods, search for them at http://reviewing.co.uk

Option 3: use your powers of persuasion

Talk about other groups you have worked with who arrived with a similar attitude, had a fun time and left with lots of useful learning... "in fact they are now regular customers because they are an organisation that believes that fun and learning are fully compatible. If people are not having fun it suggests that their basic needs are not being met and these need to be attended to before it is possible to do much useful learning."

"But we just want fun!"

I hear what you are saying. Can you hear what I am saying? Wanting fun is a temporary stage that all groups go through. But there are many different kinds of fun and there are many ways in which groups develop. Groups do not just travel in one direction from an appetite for fun to an appetite for serious stuff and that's it. Groups that continue to grow and learn keep cycling through stages of hard work and relaxation and sometimes fun can even happen alongside the hard work.

"Just fun" is a good place to start. So let's start at square one and go back to square one from time to time, but let's not get stuck at square one.

Option 3 depends entirely on your powers of persuasion. It does not include activity and it does not include much dialogue. There is a risk that if you sustain this line for too long that you win the argument but you lose the group: you have silenced them. And then later on in the course you wonder why it is so difficult to get them to speak up!

Which option would you choose - and why?

Much depends on the situation and much depends on your personal style. But each option has its own risks - and there may well be better ways of dealing with this situation. If your favourite strategy is not described, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk and share your own favourite. 

~ 4 ~ ONLINE TRAINING COURSE: Active Reviewing

Taking part in this online course will enable you ...

  • To engage your students' full set of learning skills so that their learning is rapid, significant and memorable.
  • To inspire long lasting results by generating immersive learning experiences.
  • To become an expert in facilitating learning from experience.
  • To master the Active Reviewing Toolkit (A.R.T.), a selection of versatile reviewing techniques.
  • To use tools such as the Horseshoe, the Activity Map, Action Replay and others in order to engage and empower your students.

You can view the full course content and sample the training videos for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com

Take Your Training Skills to the Next Level

The best way to learn the procedures and principles related to actively reviewing is to enroll in this e-learning course. You will enjoy your learning experience from this practical, hands-on approach to active learning.

Sivasailam Thiagarajan
See Thiagi's full review

A must for all trainers not experienced in Roger's reviewing methods

A programme that will really help trainers get to grips with active and creative reviewing skills. It's in nice short sections so it's easy to go back and review a method before you use it. I might make this a prerequisite for my associate trainers!

Shirley Gaston

You can view the full course content and sample the training videos for free by visiting ActiveReviewing.com

~ 5 ~  TIPS: 6 of the best ways to end a training programme

1. On time - or early.
This is not just about being professional and punctual. It is also recognising that a lot of very useful things can happen informally as soon as a training programme ends: saying goodbyes; saying thank you; exchanging cards or contact information; taking photos; making plans to meet. These are all things that can add value to your training programme and enhance the transfer of learning. In some situations this opportunity is so valuable that you may want to end the programme 15 minutes early and challenge people to use these last 15 minutes to have at least three conversations that will help each other transfer their learning - and then leave when they are ready to do so.

2. "This is not the end: it is the start of the next stage of your learning journey."
Not original, but true. It is often said when a learner driver becomes qualified that the real learning begins out on the roads after the test. There is an important phase of extra learning when the initial learning is tried out for real. The transfer plan (next) should include a learning plan within it - which includes a commitment (and the know-how) for further review and reflection - so that transfer experiments become learning experiences. A quick way to enact this tip is to make a short closing speech around this message. Ideally it is preceded by a sharing of learning and is followed by each participant outlining a future experiment and how they will learn from it.

3. An ending that is customised for each individual
This can take the form of a self-made transfer plan which plays to the individual's strengths; anticipation of potential barriers and strategies for overcoming them; contracted one-to-one support from learning buddy or coach or manager; a schedule for self-testing of any knowledge or skills that are critical for successful transfer; a personally significant souvenir that will outlive the transfer plan and serve both as a reminder and as as a talking point with others. To enact this tip, give time for each person to prepare to share one aspect of their transfer plan that will be relatively easy to achieve and one aspect that they expect to be challenging or unpredictable.

4. Old and new
If the training programme is expected to result in behaviour change, the end of a programme can be a prime opportunity for contrasting old ways and new ways. Teams can show their old ways of working and their new ways of working in a short performance. A good structure is to pick one old and new example from the training programme, and follow this with one old and one (imagined) new example from the workplace. If asking individuals to perform their personal old and new ways is too challenging, ask them to choose pictures representing old and new and to present the pictures in the group.

5. Slideshow
Participants watch a slideshow of the training programme in which they have just been taking part. It tells the story of their learning experience and includes everyone. It can be a project for participants or it can be produced by training staff. You will find valuable advice and tips in Sam Moore's article: Big Screen Magic (pdf) Unlike the first four tips, this one is about the recent past, but (with the right permissions) a slideshow of the recent past can also become a powerful souvenir to take into the future.

6. Talking Knot
This is suitable for groups of 10-15 people. Seated in a circle, everyone holds onto a circular rope with 3 labels tied on at an equal distance from each other. The labels are: 'Past', 'Present' and 'Future'. The group move the rope at a leisurely pace in a clockwise direction. When anyone wishes to speak on the subject that is passing by on a label, the person seizes the rope either side of the label and speaks. When the person has had their say, the rope resumes its clockwise motion until someone else choose to stop the rope and speak. This simple turn-taking method allows people to opt in when they are ready to speak. Unlike the other methods which can take longer than expected, you can assign a maximum time for this method and stop at the designated time - so it fits particularly well with Tip No.1.

You may have noticed that filling in an evaluation form is not included in this "Six of the best". I would not even recommend it. Few participants will have the time, energy, thoughtfulness or commitment needed to do a useful and honest evaluation at this time - when there are other strong social needs to attend to. Evaluation is best done sooner or later rather than at the very end.

If you have a favourite way of ending a training programme that you would like to share, please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk and this "Six of the best" might even grow into a top ten!

~ 6 ~ ARCHIVE: Reviewing for Fun

Download "Reviewing for Fun" pdf  (4 pages)


See the previous issue of Active Reviewing Tips: The Forgetful Navigator

Topics under consideration for future issues include:

  • The Active Reviewing Cycle: update
  • Making the case for active reviewing
  • Making reviewing a memorable experience
  • Reviewing as a takeaway skill for participants
  • 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 reviewing)
  • Readers' Questions about Reviewing (please feed me with questions for this 'FAQ')
  • Sample designs for learning and development
  • 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 roger@reviewing.co.uk 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).

~ 8 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

TITLE: Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning
ISSN: 1465-8046
EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
EMAIL: roger@reviewing.co.uk Feedback welcome
ARCHIVES: Index of back issues
HOME PAGE: Active Reviewing

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