Start with a Question, not a Statement


If you’re an educator, you’ve undoubtedly been to many workshops and “training sessions”.  (I hate that term – I train my dog)  Inevitably, they start with an “icebreaker” which, if you’re lucky, has something to do with the topic de jour.  I always hated those timewasters – find someone else wearing green underwear and introduce yourself.  I’d rather find a like mind during the activity and build a more meaningful relationship that will continue after the session ends.  The worst of the worst involves finding out what you had for breakfast using those clicking devices that almost always never work right the first time, making the whole process increasingly meaningless.  Why not ask everyone to whip out their phone and enter responses online using any of the free services, using a technology that people are comfortable with?  Or, as my computer studies students related to me after being frustrated with the software, just hold your hand up to vote.

In my interview with Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen a couple of days ago, I tried to get them to fully explain the Minds on Media concept for those who were interested in it.  I think that Peter summed it nicely….

The concept grew somewhat organically – except to say that we both have strong beliefs about several learning principles:

  • the locus of control for learning should be in the hands of the learner
  • the facilitator must be aware of, and respond to, the learner’s desires, needs and expertise
  • the learner should leave empowered to learn further – beyond the MOM event
  • there are always experts among us

So it made a lot of sense when we were organizing the ECOO conferences that we run a ‘hands on’ day for people with these ideas in mind. But, we wanted more than their hands on – we wanted their ‘minds on’.

When you think through this, it is considerably different from a training session where the leader holds all the cards, er presentation slides, and walks you through the session.

Later in the post, the topics available to participants for this year’s ECOO Minds on Media event are listed.  You won’t find anything entitled “An Introduction to…” or “Beginner’s Guide to…”.  Instead the topics are all described using action words and honour the learning of those who would be participants.  Having participated in Minds on Media in the past as both a facilitator and a pedagogista, I can tell you that sessions do not begin with the statement…

“Today, you will learn how to …”

By its nature, that statement presumes that the audience is a blank slate.  While there are times that making that assumption is good, this isn’t one of them.

Instead, teachers move around the room as free-range learners.  They’re forever jumping into a discussion in process.  The facilitator may pause and ask.

“What about … will we learn today?”

It honours both their role as facilitator/learner and the role of the teacher as learner.  It cuts straight to the core so that active learning can begin.

You need to experience it to complete understand.

Registration for Minds on Media and, indeed, the entire ECOO Conference continues at



OTR Links 09/16/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.