By Tracy Wright, MAED | April 4, 2017
Project Director, ETR
Ready for a quick activity to build community while discovering differences and commonalities? Tech Evolution will get you there!
Title: Tech Evolution
Setting: Great for live virtual events. Can also be used for in-person events.
Time: 10 minutes
Adapted from the activity “How Things Change” in Kassy Laborie and Tom Stone’s book Interact and Engage! 50+ Activities for Virtual Trainings, Meetings and Webinars. Recommended!
- To build community and find commonalities.
- In live virtual events, to offer a low-stress and fun way to increase comfort using the training platform features.
- To gather information that can be used to divide participants into small groups later in the session (e.g., by common mentions of technology items—“Those of you who mentioned streaming video will be in group 1. Those of you who mentioned smartphones will be in group 2.”).
- A slide or other visual aid such as a virtual whiteboard (see slide example below)
- A reference including year-spans and names for different generations (e.g., Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials). You can use this information during your discussion of the activity and may want to use it later for small-group breakouts. (Find a list here.)
Necessary Platform Features: For live virtual events, you will need chat or annotation tools that are accessible and visible to all participants. (Remember, on some platforms chat is accessible to all, but what people type and send is only visible to presenters. That would not work for this activity.)
Best Used: As an ice-breaker or “while you’re waiting” activity before the start of a live virtual or in-person training or meeting.
- Introduce activity. Let participants know you’ll be starting the session with a fun “get-to-know-you” activity (or that you’re inviting them to participate in the activity while waiting for the session to officially start).
- Ask participants: “Please share in chat any technology you can think of that was not around when you were 10 years old.” (For an in-person session, you can write comments down on chart paper or a dry-erase board, or have participants do the writing.)
- Make supportive observations as comments appear. Point out commonalities, differences and fun contributions. Acknowledge the diversity in generations—and perhaps perspectives—represented among participants. For example:
- “I see that a number of people have mentioned cell phones and smart phones. We are all definitely connected in new ways.”
- “Here’s someone mentioning a desktop computer. I’m guessing that might be a Baby Boomer.”
- “Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Some of you grew up with social media, and it’s something others here adopted when they were adults.”
- “Yes! Programmable toasters. How did we ever get by without them?”
- Transition from the activity to your meeting/training. You can build on the discussion of commonalities and differences across generations. Or you can connect the rapid change in technology to our need to constantly receive additional training and professional development to increase efficiency and understanding in our work.
Ask other questions that might illumine some of the distinctions between generations. Examples:
- When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What was the year, make and model of your first mode of transportation?
- What was your favorite story or movie when you were a child?
Tracy Wright, MAED, is a Project Director at ETR. She is a skilled distance learning, eLearning and professional development specialist. She has also served as a health education teacher in both middle and high schools. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.