Learning Styles-Kahn Academy humanising education

Salman Khan talk at TED 2011

The future of learning from The Kahn Academy who provides free invaluable education to kids.

I know – 2011 seems a while ago to only now share a review of the Ted Talk however; being a fan of learning, I could NOT not on-share this wonderful academy and mission of Salman Khan.

Salman Khans TED talk shares the wonderful ‘accident’ by a hedge analyst recording math lessons for his cousins and how that has led to an amazing breakthrough in humanising education and accelerating classroom learning through video lessons.


“My cousins actually liked me more in video than in person”.  Not because of what you think but because his cousins could replay parts of the video, and retry whenever they needed to without feeling like they were inconveniencing him.

Teaching has become an inconvenience to teachers, parents and students…an interruption to learning in some cases itself.

The Khan academy provides video lessons for students so they can learn at their own pace, outside of school time so that time with the teacher is interactive, focused on the needs of the kids and playful.

khan-academy-missionTeachers can also leverage the Kahn Academys great lessons accompanied with excellent data categorisation, tagging for a profound and a nice analytics dashboard. I know my sister – a primary school teacher would relish the time to serve kids learning so aptly. Do you know of anyone in Australia using the Kahn Academy? I’d love to hear if you do?

The opportunity for play is multiplied for kids because time also moves from ‘getting through curriculum’ to how can we best use our time in the class together. The kids actually ‘play’ the videos over, and stop and interact with them at their control. That kind of empowerment is a wonderful trigger  opening up the mind. I also do love that it’s creates a learning community and invites other students to become mentors to their peers. Champion of champions program starting young!!

On the other hand I am a bit reticent towards the concept of learning outside of school in addition to school time because when do kids ever get time to play? Will this be used to ‘over saturate’ kids with information rather than learning through play and experience?

Probably not given the Kahn Academy puts value on “ student to valuable human time with teacher”. Plus they are developing ways to gamify the experience. No wonder Bill Gates is such a big advocate. Watch the Ted talk and let me know what you think? I’m undecided and going to keep my mind open.





Interactive Human Spectrogram

It’s true – everybody has an opinion! Big ones, little ones, difficult ones, simple ones, lonely ones and herd ones. So how do you facilitate an agile team to share differing opinions, constructively discuss options, and gain insight into each others opinions? Agile Team Facilitators use real live human interactive experiences to facilitate discussion dives, build team repore and allow product decision making.

The Interactive Human Spectrogram is most definitely a long name for a group excercise that basically gets people to stand where there mouth is!

Prepare your Session!

You will need;

  • some space enough for your team,
  • masking tape for the spectrogram index,
  • markers to show the spectrum values
  • position statements for discussion
  • spectrum values

Optional support equipment;

  • statement crowdsourcing technique
  • discussion kanban
  • behaviour guide toys

Set your space up

  • place the tape along the floor; consider the number of people attending and number of values on the spectrum
  • mark down the values you wish to have people allign to; for example
    • strongly disagree – disagree – agree – strongly agree
    • 0 – 10
    • consider metaphor characters; olympic medals – gold, silver, bronze, or movie characters –  padawan (for newbie learner) to jedi knight (for experienced master)
      • creative metaphors help attendees to shift from their ‘stagnant mindset’ to a more creative responsive mindset – leverage these easy tools to help build the energy and collaboration you’d like

Run your session!

  1. Introduce the Session by framing the basics
    • This an interactive spectrum
    • We’ll choose the next statement & you will be asked to step to the value on the spectrum that best represents your position

A couple of free facilitation guides

And resources from the web…

Human Spectagram

  • http://wiki.sos.wa.gov/PeerLearning/Default.aspx?Page=Human-Spectrogram&NS=&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
  • http://facilitation.aspirationtech.org/index.php?title=Facilitation:Spectrogram
    • http://facilitation.aspirationtech.org/index.php?title=Facilitation:Spectrogram_Facilitator_Notes

Constellation Activity



Facilitation Workshops


Agile Portfolio Ceremony Facilitation

Portfolio Delivery
Scrum of scrums
Inspect & Adapt

Supporting the delivery as a central source of trueth, Swindon Round about

Visual Facilitation
Agile Values & Principles

Icebreakers for facilitation, learning, business meetings

Icebreakers are a wonderful facilitation technique for creating individual engagement in meetings, workshops and agile ceremonies. A great icebreaker will;

  • introduce the person so that ‘people’ become present rather than just another worker
  • create engagement of attendees by the method of having them participate from the get-go
  • give the facilitator an opportunity to look each individual in the eye, acknowledge them and hold a welcoming space
  • warm the team up, relax them and set the mindset of collaboration (because they take out the knowledge gap between who we are)

Icebreakers also provide facilitators an opportunity to engage introverts and provide obvious support for their efforts to be vocally open infront of a group.
For example;
Lets walk through the simple ice-breaker ‘ Name & favorite past-time on the weekend’
1. Prepare prior a poster with a title ‘who’s who’& give it a frame
2. Provide the instruction, and use yourself as an example
3. Give everyone a minute to write on a sticky note: ‘Name & favorite past-time on the weekend’
4. Invite people to stand, place their sticky on the poster and then introduce themselves to the group
– this will be quite easy for most people.
– For the introvert be mindful of;
– maintaining eye contact, as they will look to you – the facilitating leader because it’s much safer than looking at the group. This gives them affirmation that you will support them throughout this process. Generally as sessions go on, introverts will continue to talk to the group by talking to you because that connection is safe for them.


Lemon Jousting

Mad, Glad, Sad

Rock, paper, scissors

Positive affirmation – first letter, first name

Distributed Agile and Off-sure Agile Resources

Off-shore agile, outsourcing agile teams, distributed agile, leverageing globalisation third world markets – or whatever it is you call it – creates additional process management work for teams. The question is whats the impact to business benefits, customer satisfaction, quality product, and healthy culture?

Different clients i’ve coached have approached distributed agile product delivery in a variety of ways and yet they each encountered similar challenges that are worth keeping in mind:
– Overcomeing the distance to maintain good face-to-face communication flow
– Establishing seamless infrastructure; environments, task management, knowledge management tools
– Governing quality development and output
– Customer satisfaction mindset
Below are three interesting articles that explain well; their strategy, execution and learning by experience.

Martin Fowler of Thoughtworks shares his perspective on the Thoughtworks Bangalore off-shore agile services to their European and USA agile houses, and customers.
Martin Fowlers top learnong list;
– Use Continuous Integration to Avoid Integration Headaches
– Have Each Site Send Ambassadors to the Other Sites
– Use Contact Visits to build trust
– Don’t Underestimate the Culture Change
– Use wikis to contain common information
– Use Test Scripts to Help Understand the Requirements
– Use Regular Builds to Get Feedback on Functionality
– Use Regular Short Status Meetings
– Use Short Iterations
– Use an Iteration Planning Meeting that’s Tailored for Remote Sites
– When Moving a Code Base, Bug Fixing Makes a Good Start
– Separate teams by functionality not activity
Expect to need more documents
– Get multiple communication modes working early
– Costs and Benefits of Offshore Development

To better understand who has been doing it well and for a long time ive selected the below from Microsofts pool of off-shore agile articles. It’s short, too the point and gives some practicle how tos.
– agile practice trends
– insight to the right tools i.e. integration
– communication, communication, communication



And last but not least a nice checklist infographic to consider

attribution to QAT.com with this graphic


Scaled Agile Portfolio Billboard

On large scale scrum programs or scaled agile portfolios it is often easy to have people come and go from the village without all of the community knowing.  Often new people are welcomed to their immediate scrum team, announced at scrum of scrums or an email is sent around.  I’ve observed that new people are often not recognised for a long while by other villagers walking past, and more commonly by the Business Scrum attendees who are often not sitting with the teams everyday. While it may seem like a small transition, eventually the newbie will settle in and everyone will know him – or will they?
The act of welcoming new people and helping them to feel settled is dependent upon the behaviours of those already here. The villagers need to actively welcome a person, not just ‘talk about’ it. Being active in welcomeing people and introducing them to the entire program helps to bring them into the culture you’d like to sustain as well as speeding up their ability to collaborate and be productive.

Agile Portfolio BIllboardWhile there is a number of more well know activities for welcoming people into the scrum team; it’s also important for the whole agile portfolio to acknowledge they are part of a bigger village.  A Town Hall or Portfolio Sprint Reviews are great places for the personal introductions however for those who work with us and aren’t regulars to turning up it’s also great to share the news at the Scrum of Scrums and Business Scrums ceremonies.  We create an Agile Portfolio Billboard as a great space for profiling information to everyone. In the same way you have a Dashboard for builds, velocity, engagement it’s great to have a Billboard as a live source of communication that maintains news, decisions and changes for the entire program.

Update the team space by adding in a persona card that includes;

  • A clear photo so that we associate the face with the name
  • Their name, their team – and their location; especially if it’s a large spread out program or distributed teams so that we have context when the newbie speaks and we have visibility of transitions that may impact the teams
  • Add in personal details that help to create ice-breaker conversations and for others to easily become familiar with the person. The more familiar we are with someone, the easier it is to have a conversation and to collaborate
  • For example;  “favourite bands now & when you we’re a teenager”, weekend passions, and of-course being a Melbourner, asking what coffee they like is a must!

New Guy Agile Ice Breaker


(due to privacy laws we couldn’t show the team photos, hence the drawings 🙂 )

It’s a simple task that creates some tangible and lasting benefits;

  • Give others visibility so they can say hi rather than just walk past
  • Remind Business Scrum we’re real people on the project, have lives and also give them some icebreaker opportunity to engage with the teams
  • Helps us old people remember the newbies names with the faces…you’ll be amazed when you work across large programs how many people don’t everyones name – we just don’t admit all the time

This is one simple step to building a welcoming, friendly and collaborative culture. There are many others available or create your own; remember to keep it simple, friendly and encouraging for people to communicate, build trust and connect with one another.