110 Facilitation Ideas (110 Training & Development Methods)

110 Facilitation Ideas (110 Training & Development Methods)

By Theo Winter White

One of our assessment partners from Germany was kind enough to share an infographic he’d created with 50+ training methods and although my German is, um… not exceptional… after a long stretch staring at icons and throwing words into Google translate I think I mostly got the gist — and the gist I got was “that’s brilliant, mate!”

As a business we could see significant value in starting work on what might become a comprehensive eBook resource packed with ideas for trainers and facilitators including more about the practical application side and the respective strengths / limits of each approach, especially since I had trouble locating any articles beyond a small handful of ideas at a time.

As it currently stands, the goal of this list is not taxonomic; the definitions aren’t the point; the order isn’t the point. It’s about having a resource that can provide contrast, comparison, context, and combination — old ideas, new ideas, fun ideas, weird ideas, never-in-a-million-years-will-my-boss-let-me-do-that ideas, trusted ideas, ideas you might want to explore further, together in one place — to potentially unlock some inspiration.

As mentioned, this is one of my (many, many) lists in development. Please feel free to hit me up with feedback, additions, changes, angry outbursts, or links where someone has already created something similar. If it hasn’t been done, or hasn’t been done well and I feel up to the challenge, this will evolve into something truly Ausgezeichnet. Apparently that’s German for excellent. Sorry, Frank, if I butchered your language. Thank you again for providing the foundation for this post.

(As with all previous lists, please consider this page dynamic and possibly subject to live edits/alterations.)

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Apprenticeship: On-the-job learning combined with classroom instruction, often conducted over several years.

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Tutoring / Instructing: A one-on-one relationship where the teacher supervises the work or performance of the student and provides feedback. The student is typically expected to follow the directions of the teacher without much deviation.

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Mentoring: Like tutoring or instructing, mentoring usually involves a one-on-one relationship whereby the mentor possesses knowledge or skills they intend to impart to the less experienced student.

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Reverse Mentoring: This commonly refers to a type of learning initiative where someone well-versed in a particular technology seeks to pass on what they know to a less tech-savvy executive.

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Facilitation: Managing a group meeting process by acting as a neutral, trusted third-party who is ultimately there to make the process easier for all involved.

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Mediation: While similar to the role of a facilitator, a mediator is usually more focused on conflict resolution or helping a group negotiate needs and forming agreement.

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Training: This usually implies group development where the goal for the trainer is to impart certain knowledge and/or impact the group’s behaviour in some way.

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Classroom Training: A common type of training in which the participants are together in one physical location, usually seated around or in front of the teacher/trainer who uses a blackboard, flipchart, or presentation screen of some kind.

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Outdoor Training: In contrast to traditional classroom-based training, outdoor training uses natural surroundings either as an integral part of the learning (e.g., a team-based obstacle course) or simply to enhance the experience (e.g., training held at the local park).

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Hands-On Training / On-the-Job Training: Active participation in real-world tasks or projects which can range from low risk / high support to high risk / low support (i.e., being thrown in the “deep end”).

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Consulting: A wide-ranging term for a type of client relationship where the consultant may be engaged to help solve an organisational problem, gather information, work on a project for a limited time, etc., and often has specialised expertise or skills.

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Coaching / Process Coaching: In an organisational context, this usually implies one-on-one development where a coach provides guidance to a coachee, who may be seeking to change their behaviour or improve their performance. Coaches are not always “experts” and their role is mostly about providing structure, clarification, options, accountability, and support.

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Business Coaching / Executive Coaching: Coaching that may also extend to providing the client with specific business expertise as well as traditional coaching services.

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Call a Coach: A service centre or on-demand hotline set up to provide coaching over the phone or through a software app rather than in-person. This may also include a messaging or text-based service.

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Brainstorming: A group meeting or individual activity where the focus is on generating ideas or solutions relevant to a specific topic. The emphasis is usually on generating lots of ideas and options rather than trying to identify the one “best” solution right away.

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Mind Mapping: A process of visually organising information (by hand or with mind mapping software) where key topics are linked to related subtopics in a tree-like diagram, typically with boxes to represent the nodes and arrows to represent the links between nodes.

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Personal Conversation: A less formal type of discussion between two or more individuals with the goal of getting to know one another on a more social level (e.g., understanding their interests, hobbies, values, likes and dislikes).

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Onboarding: Helping someone new to a role understand what’s expected. This might include a welcome package, getting familiar with the operations & procedures manual, group or one-on-one induction interactions with their new team and manager, introductions to other employees, etc.

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Shadowing: A type of learning initiative usually associated with onboarding where the new inductee learns on-the-job skills by following around or “shadowing” a more experienced employee or whomever they are going to replace.

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Buddy Program: A type of support network set up to help orient a new team member within an organisation by pairing them with a more experienced employee for a limited time period. The primary focus is on basic operational knowledge.

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Peer Program: A type of support network where people of similar rank, status, or experience seek to help one another improve. The primary focus is on learning and development.

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High Potential Program: A program focused on identifying, supporting, and fast-tracking the development of individuals likely to move into high-value, executive, or leadership positions.

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Mastermind Group / Peer Advisory Board: A formal or informal support network, often (but not always) of peers or people of similar experience, based on helping other members improve, which might involve anything from using others as a “sounding board” (the process of bouncing ideas around) to helping a member solve a specific work-related problem.

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Book Club: A group of people who meet regularly (e.g., once a week) to discuss a book or share thoughts about particular reading material.

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Think Tank: A group of experts or professionals with complementary skillsets brought together to solve a problem or work on the development of an issue.

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Toastmasters: This may refer to the organisation that runs speaker skill development events or it may be used generally to refer to any program with a similar aim.

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Debate: Participants are asked to argue the merits of an idea or position which they may or may not agree with to develop alternative perspectives or to improve speaking / influencing skills.

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PowerPoint Karaoke: An interactive activity in which participants are required to give a PowerPoint presentation based on content they have never seen before, often to teach improvisation, confidence, or speaking skills.

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Info Session: A specific event, presentation, or demonstration intended to provide relevant information to people who are interested in the topic, company, or product.

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Conference: An event or exhibition held by an organisation where attendees or delegates are invited to experience new products or demos, listen to speakers, network with like-minded people, etc.

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Trade Show / Expo: An event where many companies, often from the same industry, exhibit their products and services.

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Workshop: A short event in which a group of people with a shared interest or passion meet to discuss a particular subject, brainstorm ideas, or develop a particular skill.

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Open Space: In contrast to a traditional conference, which is more organiser-driven and typically has a clearly defined agenda, an Open Space is more free-flowing and participant-driven where the attendees may have a broad purpose and a general set of guidelines, but the specifics of the sessions, format, and agenda are determined collectively.

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World Café: The larger group breaks into smaller groups to discuss a topic together at a table for a set period of time before participants switch to another table to discuss a different set topic.

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Teleconference: A group of people located in the same building and/or in separate geographic locations are linked in a meeting discussion via telephone or web conference application.

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Study Tours: A learning experience that typically involves travel, sight-seeing, and exposure to foreign or unfamiliar environments, often over a series of days and involving multiple locations.

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Excursion: A short journey made to augment or highlight some aspect of the learning, usually involving a single location and completed on the same day.

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Diagnostic Tool: An assessment or questionnaire designed to gather insight into one’s personality, skills, and/or preferences, especially one’s strengths and weaknesses.

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Self-Reflection: An individual contemplative activity involving feedback or activities designed to enhance one’s self-awareness.

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Learning Groups: Small group units focused on skill development, emotional support, problem solving and/or organisational task work.

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Social Learning: Learning augmented by technology platforms and social media.

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Personalised Learning: Learning that is tailored to the needs of the learner, as contrasted with a one-size-fits-all approach.

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On-Demand Learning / Just-in-Time Learning: A type of flexible training strategy focused on delivering tools and knowledge to the learner when they need it or when it is most convenient so as not to interrupt their daily work routine.

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Demonstration: The process of showing employees how to perform a function, interact with a customer, use equipment, handle inventory, etc.

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Presentation: A talk, usually of a persuasive nature, intended to convey information, a small number of ideas, or a central message to an audience.

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Fireplace Talk / Fireside Chat: An informal, relaxed conversation usually between two or more people.

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Walking Meeting: A discussion or meeting that takes place while walking.

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FedEx Day: People are given 24 hours to deliver a product, finalise a process, or complete a project usually with the freedom to work on what they want but related to the organisation’s goals.

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Hackathon: A competitive event usually held over a short, defined period where skilled professionals form teams and collaborate on a project with the aim of having a minimum viable product by the end of the event to show the judges.

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F#%k-Up-Night /Failure Party: A discussion focused on sharing embarrassing mistakes, cautionary tales, or light-hearted failures stories where things didn’t go to plan.

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Anxiety Party: A supportive meeting where team members share their concerns or anxieties, often ranked in order of intensity.

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Listen and Learn: A facilitator, executive, or manager approaches team members with a view to gathering feedback and listening to their concerns.

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Focus Group: An event, usually involving small groups, where people’s opinions are sought on a particular topic — often with the view of gauging how something the organisation is doing is likely to be received by the wider market based on the smaller sample group(s).

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Question & Answer Session: A panel of executives, staff, or subject matter experts are brought together so that staff can ask them questions.

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Meet and Greet: A special guest or guests are brought into the organisation and the audience is given the opportunity to have a brief social interaction.

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Expert Debriefing: A subject matter expert shares knowledge with a group interested in learning more about the expert’s specialty area.

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Blind Dates: The group is split into pairs and takes turns asking and answering a prescribed set of questions designed to reveal personal and/or professional information about their partner.

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Vox Pops: Short interviews where people are approached with a set of questions or asked to share their thoughts on a particular subject.

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Case Study: A brief or in-depth analysis of a real-world situation or project.

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Quiz: A test administered to teams or individuals — paper-based, online, or verbal question-and-answer, short or long, open-book or closed, prepared or impromptu, multiple choice or other format — usually designed to gauge a group’s understanding of a subject and to provide an incentive for paying attention.

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Lecture: An educational talk delivered to a (usually large) audience, often with chalkboard or PowerPoint aid, and relatively long (30 - 60+ minutes).

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Simulation / Role Playing: A simplified recreation or imitation of an environment usually intended to help participants develop skills through rehearsal.

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Conversation Simulation: A simplified recreation of a conversation or interaction that might be had with customers, executives, team members, suppliers, etc.

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Process Simulation: A simplified re-creation of an event, system, action sequence, situation, environment, business procedure, etc.

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Podcast: An audio recording (live, edited, or delayed), often delivered as an individual presentation, interview, or group discussion, available for download on a computer or mobile device, usually as a part of a series of recordings on a particular subject.

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Knowledge Database: A central information resource or hub for storing and retrieving information relevant to one subject or many, usually with the goal of helping people quickly answer their queries efficiently and as completely as possible.

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eLearning: Typically a self-paced course or training seminar delivered online through a series of stages or modules in which progress is tracked and knowledge can be tested.

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Microlearning: An approach to learning that deals with short-length learning units, for example, videos less than 2 minutes.

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eNewsletter: An email containing news, information, and updates about a company, its products, or a specific topic of interest.

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Suggestion Box: A box, container, or other similar feedback device (physical or digital) that allows people to leave suggestions, comments, or opinions.

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Rewards Program / Loyalty Program: An incentive system designed to encourage participation in an event or process.

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Volunteer Program: Staff give time to a charitable organisation or special project with the support of the organisation.

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Community Involvement: Staff meet with, learn from, and help out members of their local community.

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Nudges: Related to the branch of psychological study of decision making in an economic context known as Behavioural Economics, Nudge Theory is concerned with how small changes (in language, framing, design, layout, pricing, contrast, timing, etc.) can impact people’s choices and outcomes.

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LMS: A learning management system (LMS) is the general term for any online system that is used to create, manage, deliver, and track course content and other learning materials.

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MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses are free online courses available to the public.

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Webinar: Typically an instructor-led presentation delivered online in real-time to a group of participants on a specific subject for a limited time.

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Virtual Classroom: An instructor-led online learning experience, usually run over an extended time period, that reflects much of the traditional classroom experience, but in this case participants engage with the instructor and other students through a preferred web application.

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Learning Nugget: A learning nugget is typically a short learning activity delivered by email or text on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, provided as part of a larger learning “thread” where participants are sent a specific task, to-do, question, reminder, etc.

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Screencast: Typically a video recording of a digital presentation or a video of onscreen actions with audio narration that can be downloaded and watched at a convenient time for the learner.

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Video Explainer: A short, typically low-budget video demonstrating or explaining how a product, service or feature works.

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Animated Video: A short video with hand-drawn, painted, or illustrated cartoons and other graphic elements used to tell a story, demo a product, or present an idea.

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TED Talk: Originating from the Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference, these talks typically range between 5 - 18 minutes and focus on sharing surprising, inspiring, or big ideas.

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Expert Interview: Interviewing someone who has specialised knowledge, relevant qualifications, or unique experience pertinent to the topic of discussion, which may be sought to develop a learning framework or be used as a learning resource for participants.

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Customer Interview: Interviewing someone who is a customer — that is, someone who has purchased a product or used a service recently or over a long period of time, which may be helpful as part of company research or testimonial support.

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Best Practice Video: A video highlighting a specific or broad set of practices in a professional area that are considered most trusted, proven, or effective.

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Audio Snippet: A short, isolated section from a larger audio file.

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Icebreaker / Energiser: Icebreaker activities are commonly used at the start of a meeting or after a break to “energise” the group with a short game or exercise which may or may not directly relate to the meeting agenda.

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Game: An activity, simple or complex, with goals, rules, and participants, usually competitive in design, where the participants compete individually or in teams.

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Business Game: A game where the action and rules are structured and shaped based on organisational norms and goals.

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Gamification: The use of game-based principles and gaming elements to enhance and engage an experience not traditionally associated with games or gaming, such as business or learning initiatives that incorporate rewards, points, badges, leaderboards, etc.

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VR/AR: Virtual reality and augmented reality technology generally aims to alter, enhance, replace, or overlay the world as we experience it every day with digital objects, images, sounds, etc.

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Brown Bag Meeting: An informal meeting that takes place around lunchtime, associated with the brown lunch bag often used to pack one’s lunch.

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Learning Breakfast / Lunch-N-Learn: A lunchtime or morning learning event where catering is provided.

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Learn and Grow / Learn and Get Well: A learning initiative that incorporates exercise equipment, physical activity, or is otherwise intended to promote the staff’s health and fitness.

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Mail: Postcards and letters, typed or handwritten, are increasingly seen as a more meaningful means of communication than email, text, or other messaging apps.

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Trailer: A short teaser or trailer provides an overview or short excerpt of what is going to be delivered or what to expect and when to expect it.

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Survey: A questionnaire delivered via paper or online.

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360-Degree Feedback: The process of soliciting feedback about individuals from their peers, managers, and/or staff members.

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Handout: Typically this is a 1-pager or short document given to participants as a learning resource to take home.

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Stands: Large signs usually with a short message designed to grab attention or direct people’s attention to an important piece of information.

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Intranet/Portal Content: Intranets and portals are built and managed by organisations as internal digital networks serving a range of communications and information purposes.

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Contest: An event or initiative where the participants compete to win rewards, which may involve a small or large element of luck.

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Ceremony: An event where one or more person is recognised for an achievement, effort, idea, etc.

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SMS: Where information is pushed or requested by someone via text message or similar smartphone notification.

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Blog: Workers partake in blogging or writing assignments for the company website or similar publication.

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Design Thinking: An approach to problem solving and idea development with a particular focus on breaking complex ideas into smaller, manageable chuncks.

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Storyboarding: Creating rough illustrated or hand-drawn images to structure a story or help in the development of an idea, problem solving activity, etc.

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Scavenger Hunt: Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, participants are required to gather up various “puzzle pieces” of information (digitally and/or physically) or mystery clues and put the pieces together in order to solve a problem.

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Cross Training / Job Sharing / Job Switching: Where employees spend time in another role or department for a limited period of time to develop new skills and gain a better understanding of how the organisation functions as a whole.

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Blended Learning: In addition to traditional face-to-face learning activities, blended learning incorporates online and digitally-mediated learning technologies into the learning mix.

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Flipped Classroom: Where much of the traditional classroom activities such as lectures, reading, research, and asking questions are conducted and completed prior to attending the training, which allows the teacher to focus on the more essential learning items and dedicate more time to practical application.

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Discussion Boards: A virtual environment where employees can post questions and participate in online forums to learn, share knowledge, and solve problems collaboratively.

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Learning by Teaching: The process of having students participate in the role of teacher or facilitator and delivering the lessons (or part of the lessons) to the rest of the group.

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