The discussion sparks technique ensures workshop participants will be able to participate in a lively discussion during the session by having engaged with a relevant resource before/during the session. The aim of the discussion is for the group to think collectively about an issue, in new ways. The use of the resource serves as a ‘spark’ for an active discussion, because it will equip all participants with enough information to respond to, and because the thought-provoking nature of the content should help participants form and share new ideas.
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS
MODE OF DELIVERY
- The resource should be brief enough for participants to read/watch/listen to in no more than 15 minutes, before/during the session.
- The resource should be relevant to the participants’ context, as well as to the workshop’s broader theme and/or outcomes.
- The resource content should be interesting/surprising enough to ‘spark’ lively discussions. For example: A Ted Talk video that provides a humorous or thought-provoking presentation of an issue, an audio podcast featuring specific/diverse viewpoints on a topic, a topical opinion piece/column, or a recent news article that is relevant to the workshop themes.
- The guiding questions should not illicit yes/no responses, but rather help participants think critically about the issue. (Examples include: “What resonated / did not resonate with you, and why?”; “What would you want to ask the speaker/author, if they were here, today?” or “What would be the consequences of this issue in your context?”)
- If smaller/break-out groups will be used, it is essential to share the guiding questions in a format where the group can see it, to stress the time limit, to remind participants that everyone should have a turn to make a contribution, and to recommend that at least one person takes notes so that they can report back to the group.
The discussion sparks method was developed by the database contributors, and draws on their own practical experience of workshop facilitation, as well as the following resources retrived on 11 June 2022:
- Flipped Learning Network (FLN) (2014). Definition of Flipped Learning. www.flippedlearning.org/definition
- Robert Talbert (2017). No, you do not need to use video in flipped learning (and five alternatives). https://rtalbert.org/flipped-learning-without-video/
- Georgia Institute of Technology (2018). Implementing Active Discussion Tools and Techniques. https://www.ctl.gatech.edu/best-practices/engaging-students/discussion/techniques
- Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo (Date unknown). Facilitating Effective Discussions. https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/alternatives-lecturing/discussions/facilitating-effective-discussions
- Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Indiana University Bloomington (Date unknown). Discussions. https://citl.indiana.edu/teaching-resources/teaching-strategies/discussions/index.html
- If the discussion portion will involve smaller/break-out groups, each group can also submit their discussion notes via an online poll or online shared document, to save time during the final, concluding, phase of the exercise.
- Discussion sparks can be altered as a reflection activity, which involves the participants writing down/capturing their responses to the guiding questions individually (either before/during the workshop), and only volunteers sharing their thoughts around the key questions with the group.