In one of his newsletters, Thiagi, an exceptionally talented facilitator and designer of learning games describes one of his most engaging creations, a class of activities called jolts.
A jolt is an engaging learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points … A typical jolt does not teach a skill. Instead, it helps you experience an important principle in action and provides you an “aha” moment … They capture your attention by startling you … During the activity, jolts encourage you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. After the activity, during the discussion, jolts encourage you to share your insights with other participants and to discover that different people have different perspectives.
This is not a conventional jolt because it requires some pre-work but I hope the potential for an “aha” moment would nevertheless qualify it as a jolt.
Ss should be familiar with using Evernote and able to access it in class on their own devices (laptops, smartphones, whatever).
Assign the following research task as pre-work.
- Choose a topic that’s trending in business circles e.g., big data, gamification, deep analytics, social intelligence etc. Now make it specific and relevant to your Ss e.g., big data in offshored healthcare services.
- Before coming to the next session, ask Ss to find seven interesting articles, posts or sites on this topic. They should do this in not more than seven minutes. Instruct them to use an online countdown timer or their phones to ensure that they don’t take more than seven minutes doing this task.
- Ss should skim articles/sites quickly and use Evernote to clip interesting ones to a notebook labelled with the topic.
- Ask Ss to walk around with their devices and compare their Evernote lists with others.
- Whenever two Ss find a common link, they should delete it from their list.
- Continue the activity till each person has had a chance to interact with a reasonable number of Ss. Use a timer to hurry things along.
- Get Ss to count the number of links they have left in their lists.
It’s highly likely that most Ss will end up deleting at least half their links, more for in-company settings. Take a quick poll to understand how many links were common. Here are some questions to get the discussion going:
- Why do you think so many of the links were common/so few were unique?
- What does this imply about the way in which we seek and select information?
- What does this say about the search engines we use and how they rank information?
- What could be the impact of people in the same team/department/organization reading the same sources?
- How do our reading choices influence our perspectives?
- How might this influence business decisions?
When you think to yourself “let me look that up”, everyone else is looking it up as well and in all probability surfing the same site. Is something ranked high on a search engine because it’s a rich source of information that can truly inform your perspective on a topic or for less noble reasons? Get Ss to explore issues such as shallow reading, group think, and search engine ranking and their impact on business outcomes.