Before leading a recent workshop series, I armed myself carefully: not with detailed PowerPoint slides or Prezi paths… but with handouts.
This past May, I was invited to facilitate five different workshops for faculty at South Dakota State University, starting with an introduction to the FLIP model and then moving into effective pedagogy for enhanced student engagement within active learning classroom spaces.
What was different about these workshops?
Typically, presenters spend a lot of time talking. The good ones will pause for questions. The great ones will stop for discussion or interaction. But it’s the facilitators who really get things moving — facilitators focus less on presenting and more on supporting. Since much of the workshop content was focused on flipped strategies and active learning, I wanted to practice what we were preaching — I wanted everything to be “flipped.” I had to move from a presenter to a facilitator (or a “sage on the stage” to a “guide on the side.”)
It’s an interesting move — instead of presenting, you ask the participants questions. Instead of sharing what you know, you ask the participants what they know or what they want to know more about. Instead of sharing your thoughts, you ask participants for their ideas, working to make connections that will help participants connect with content in an interactive way.
In my post on the Flip It Consulting blog, I talked about some of the nervousness associated with this active learning workshop strategy; when I work to focus the attention on my participants, I fear losing that “expert” status. My BIGGEST fear is that participants will leave an active workshop feeling as though they had talked a lot but not learned a lot. So, the Reify Media team came together to prevent this by creating some really beautiful handouts.
It was a great strategy. During the workshops, I was leading discussion and providing direction for group activity, but I wasn’t lecturing. Then, at the end of the sessions, I was able to share our handout content with faculty, so that they left the session with all the research, tips, and extra resources that a normal presentation would have gone through slide by slide.
So during the session, we were able to work together, challenge one another, and share ideas, because I didn’t have to worry about “getting through my slides.” But then faculty still left with all the research, tips, and resources I wanted to share with them, and they were able to take that content with them along with their experiences from our hands-on session.
How were the handouts designed?
For the handout design, we focused on a clean layout, warm classroom images, and an inviting color scheme.
The fonts were academic but also clean, the column text was organized and easy to read, and the spot color and gray-scaled tone changes helped the content feel linear and categorized.
How did it go?
The sessions went really well. The faculty at SD State were, in a word, fantastic, and thanks to faculty participation, the sessions were engaging, informative, and practical.
— Reify Media (@ReifyMedia) May 13, 2015
You can learn more about the workshops and my takeaways on the Flip It Consulting blog.