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Working with large groups.

Time and again we are faced with the exciting challenge of working with large groups. As a facilitator, I want to use a tool, but the group is really too big. It could be school classes with groups of 34 pupils or even larger groups of more than a hundred. The key questions could be:
How do I actively involve the entire group, no matter how large, in a learning project? 
What can individuals facilitate and where will assistants be needed? 
Over the years, the users of METALOG© training tools have developed a broad spectrum of competencies through the experience they have gained with our tools. We would like share these experiences with you.

CultuRallye – Rules make life easier. Or do they?

The XXL version makes light work of accommodating a group of 34 people, spread across seven tables. To work with even larger groups, the facilitator just simply needs to add more sets. The only thing the facilitator needs to ensure is that, when the participants change tables, they remain within the sub-group of any one CultuRallye set and don’t accidentally change to another sub-group. The individual sub-groups’ tables should be organized like “islands.” One trainer can also easily facilitate up to 100 or more people, depending on the available space and PA system provided.

Pipeline – Rolling communication.

Even with one set, it is possible to work with up to 30 people. This involves dividing the group into two teams who work with three pipelines each to get their ball to its destination. It is important to be aware that the two teams are dependent on each other, because one group reaching its goal is only considered as success when the other group manages to also get their ball to its destination within a particular time period, such as within one minute. For larger groups, it is possible to scale this up, that is, several teams work toward one goal. This is easily achieved with a group of up to 120 supported by co-facilitators. 

The Band – Stretching teams.

The XXL version of The Band makes child’s play of working with 24-28 people. For larger groups, it is a good idea to place 15 or more people around The Band, who then have the job of acting as so-called “spotters,” that is, people responsible for ensuring safety. They make sure that, for example, when working indoors, the group doesn’t get too close to the walls or any items of furniture that may be in the room. Another popular alternative is to divide the group into two sub-groups. The first sub-group acts as “spotters” for the second group and then, later on, the other way around. This will enable you to increase the group size to up to 50 people, but still allow one trainer to control the entire process.

DominoEffect – The domino event.

This learning project makes it possible for large groups (even groups of up to 120 people!) to enjoy the fun-filled “wow effect” of combining cooperation and collaboration. This involves assigning different sub-tasks to smaller “construction teams,” who then come together to work on the bigger picture. There are no limits to what these sub-tasks could be. Particularly popular sub-tasks are: “Write a word that you associate with the word ‘team’”; “Create a symbol that stands for collaboration”; “Create five branches”; “Have the domino snake cross over itself once”; and so on.

Communic8 – More than just dialog.

Only one small sleight of hand is needed for the facilitator to increase the group size of this popular tool to 32: assign two people to each part. Their task is then to first share ideas and thoughts on how they will describe their symbol. Later, when they put the 16 parts together, it really helps if one person from the teams of two takes on the role of speaker. 

Tower of Power XXL – For teams who set their sights a little higher.

For Tower of Power XXL, it is really easy to increase the number of participants to 34 when the facilitator assigns specific roles. For example, it is a good idea to assign the following tasks: time manager, quality manager or, of course, facilitator of the process. The use of observers (e.g. supported by our MetaBlog – The Intelligent Observer Tool) is also very helpful for reflection. This can be easily done by one facilitator.

Easy Spider – Through thick and thin.

A particularly effective variant is to divide one group of 34 participants into 2 groups of 17. Each team is tasked with getting from one side to the other. But, of course, as always, only one hole per side can be used once. Needless to say, the teams should support each other! In this way, the learning project can be easily carried out by one facilitator in around 90 minutes.

Communicards – The art of communicating.

The basic set enables you to easily work with up to 28 people. However, this constitutes a communicative challenge for the group, because it is necessary to constantly focus the attention of all 28 participants. It is much easier to divide the group into two sub-groups, who each carry out a separate process. When each sub-group of 14 participants is scrutinized by between two and four observers, this produces a lot of material for the subsequent reflection phase.

SoapBox – One product, many uses.

The basic set enables you to work with up to 30 participants. With three additional extension sets, it is possible to work with groups of up to 60 participants. It is a really good idea to have a co-facilitator! Adequate space and the appropriate number of separate rooms are also needed. The large-group variant certainly makes for an impressive large-scale project!

EmotionCards and FacilitationBalls.

When it comes to the reflection process, EmotionCards and FacilitationBalls offer an excellent tool for reflection and debriefing. One set is enough for large groups. If the facilitator would like to offer an even greater range of options, it is of course possible to use EmotionCards 1 & 2 or FacilitationBalls 1 & 2.

MetaBlog – the Intelligent Observer Tool

Regardless of the type of METALOG© training tool, it is possible to accommodate larger group sizes through the use of observers. The skills of observing and giving feedback contain a lot of potential for social learning, and this tool is an excellent way to open up new opportunities for such social learning. Equipped with a MetaBlog, the observers are assigned specific observation tasks with the aim of providing feedback to the group members who are carrying out the activity at the end. This enables you to work on the topic of “giving and receiving feedback.”