Adapting the course materials

How can you use slide presentations in the 9 Conversations programme as a conversation guide?

The 9 Conversations programme over 9 weeks is about building a Business Model Canvas (BMC) through discussion within the group and, equally important, outside the group (by extending your professional network through new contacts). It is less a teaching programme and more a coaching and mentoring programme. Each of the nine sessions therefore needs to be a catalyst for conversation.

We also need to consider that, since this programme is aimed at people new to the country, then their language skills may not be high.

These are two powerful reasons for avoiding text heavy PPT slides, never mind all the research that suggests that this is not a good idea even for those with a good command of the language and where the aim is explicitly to teach.

  1. Session structure: Having a ready presentation helps everyone in the group to see the structure of each session. Therefore most of the slides act as prompts rather than sources of information.
  2.  Documentation: As the programme unfolds, the presentations can also be collated on a single webpage for easy reference. This also works well on small devices. Below is a screenshot from the Danish pilot that was built on the free Google Sites platform.
Presentation-driven programme
Presentation-driven programme

Facilitator Notes

One of the strategies we planned into the project was to produce a facilitator guide so that someone with little pedagogical experience could initiate and lead a 9 Conversations group. At first we thought that a separate facilitator guide document would suffice. But once we started using the presentations to summarise the structure of each session, we realised that we could add ‘just in time’ notes to each slide for the facilitator. This we did by using the speaker notes available in presentation tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides. The notes were added in a consistent and predictable manner so that any facilitator could easily follow the guidance once they had understood the structure of the notes.

The slides have some common features:
• A common set of icons to describe the process
• A time indicator for how long to spend on the slide
• Information on what should be happening in the meeting when this slide is shown
• Whether or not the slide is a key slide when time is short
The icons include…

Slie icons

And the features of a typical slide including the use of one of the above icons is shown below.

Slide features in workbook
Slide features as shown in the PDF workbook.

Participant workbooks

By choosing to print the slides with speaker notes to PDF, the group can then use the slides as a workbook which can be either digital, if it remains in PDF format, or on paper if they are printed out. This requires the text of the speaker notes to be addressed both to the facilitator and to the participants. Since the approach of 9 Conversations is meant to be that of a transformative learning circle (known earlier as a study circle) where everyone is more or less on an equal footing, this democratic access to the study guide fits very well with the overall philosophy.

After localising the slides, for example with information about the local area and the meeting location and times, the faciltator can use a tool such as PDFescape to add active areas at the bottom of each speaker note area so that participants working on devices can add their own notes. If you know that your participants are all going to open the PDF in the free Adobe reader then you can show them how to add free text areas without using the PDFEscape tool (last part of the video below).

The process of creating a workbook from slides is demonstrated in the video below.