Active Learning In Virtual Environment/Brainwriting

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Activity: #in-class/short-term, #group-work

Outline[edit | edit source]

Brainwriting sounds very familiar to brainstorming, however this method carries more benefits and provides equal opportunities to all participants. Similar to brainstorming, students propose their ideas and thoughts on a particular subject. But, instead of sharing one’s ideas out loud, students are expected to write their thoughts down. Next, it guarantees all opinions being heard. This technique would benefit introverted or shy students who do not feel comfortable speaking in group meetings. In addition, it gives a person some time to think of their answers and formulate them better.[1]

Brainwriting Illustration

6-3-5 Brainwriting[edit | edit source]

6-3-5 brainwriting format is an active and popular way of conducting this technique. During such sessions, brainwriting exercises are divided into several rounds. It is conducted in a way that 6 people write down 3 ideas during 5 minutes. Once the first round is finished, each participant exchanges their papers with somebody else. He then reads what is put down on this paper and adds 3 more ideas. Those ideas can either be new ones or based on other concepts that have already been shared. After finishing all 3 rounds all pieces of papers are collected, ideas are discussed and debated which leads to an agreement regarding the next step. Even though this exercise is originally meant for 6 people, this activity can be held in larger or smaller groups as well. The other factors such as amount of ideas and time can be adjusted to your needs. Nevertheless, it is stated that most people find setting 3 ideas for each round to bring the best results.[2]

Activity arrangement[edit | edit source]

  • Appoint one person to be a moderator. (A moderator ensures that everyone participates in the session. He is responsible for handing out the brainwriting templates, asking participants to fill them in and general focus on the activity)
  • Decide on the length and number of rounds
  • Begin round 1
  • Exchange worksheets
  • Repeat the process for several rounds
  • Discuss all the ideas

Pointers[edit | edit source]

  • everyone’s opinion is heard
  • every participant has an opportunity to contribute
  • introverted participants feel more comfortable without pressure to speak up
  • more time to think through your ideas

How to use this method in online class?[edit | edit source]

Brainwriting activity can be conveniently held in a virtual environment. Firstly, a teacher or a moderator should email every participant a copy of a template: example. Make sure that each template is marked differently so no confusion will occur (e.g. “Brainwriting Worksheet 1”). After each round participants should email the answers to the moderator, marked for example as “Brainwriting Worksheet 1 After Round 2”.[3] However, conducting activity in this particular way may be more complicated. Therefore, as an alternative, students may use shared documents and exchange them after each round in a breakout room.

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Mindtool, ‘Brainwriting’, n.d., received from
  2. Ibid, note 1
  3. Ibid