When I explain speed learning to the students, it is inevitable that one of them will say… is this like the learning version of speed dating, and the answer is, Yes! One of the issues that I try to address in the classroom is to have each student talking with the other students about their academic work. If you have students in groups, some will dominate and some will play wall flower. With speed learning, students are challenged to have several one on one conversations with the other students. I communicate a defined outcome as well as a time limit to help focus the discussions.
Steps for using the method in class:
- Use speed learning in cases where each student has something unique to share, it could be workshopping their project ideas or sharing a news article they were asked to being in.
- Students arrange themselves so that each person is sitting across from one other person. I often teach with tables and it is easy to just have an ‘inside’ side and and ‘outside’ side to the tables.
- Place a visible countdown timer so that students are able to manage their time well.
- Use a graphic organizer to focus the listener and facilitate active participation. (Example from History of Anything project)
- Have the students switch 3-5 times depending on the desired outcome of the activity. In my experience, less than three is not enough, more than 5 and the students start to tire of the activity.
- Provide time for the students to process the questions they heard and the feedback they received.
Outcomes of such an activity include: students become more conversational with their topics, students become more conversational with their classmates (on academic topics), an increased probability of connection with others and their learning, foster a more robust ‘thinking’ process with their own work and every voice is heard.
There aren’t too many downsides to this type of activity, in my experience. While it is a loud activity with a ton of movement, I consider those all bonus moments for a dynamic learning environment.