Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post (Experience in a Box) about an interesting kit of materials that could be used to help people move through their learning cycle, from “analysis” to “experimenting”, by building and simulating their ideas.
I used this on Thursday in our in-house Facilitator’s Training Course (Module 4: Working with Space and Context). Earlier in the session we had given our facilitators scenarios to use to practice their introductions – the contracting piece – when you introduce yourself to the participants, share your goals, and frame of the workshop/meeting. Later we used those same scenarios with the Combi box to physically “build” the workshop rooms where those scenarios would most effectively take place. As they built their spaces (with sticks, wooden blocks, game pieces, modelling clay, etc.) each team talked through the various reasons for a certain room set up – based on the meeting’s purpose, what they knew about the group, cultural considerations (given in the scenarios), etc.
We could have had general discussions in plenary about different kinds of room set-ups. However, that would have been passive learning for many, and perhaps too theoretical to be really useful. It would have been a few of us sharing our experiences, rather than strengthening the experience of others. The act of building the ideal workshop rooms in miniature with the materials allowed people to test different options together, talk about how one might work better than another, and make decisions, and then share the artifact of their discussion with the rest of us in a very short time.
This turned out to be an interactive, productive and fun exercise to give people more than just a notion, but some “experience” in setting up workshop spaces to contribute to their desired outcomes. Next step – moving those chairs for real! (Also, as a side note, not many of their final room set-up plans looked anything like those traditional ones in the image attached – they might have started that way, but in the process of their discussions their designs turned out to be much more innovative…)