Don’t Start Out Of The Blue – Start Online

It isn’t really necessary to know people to start working with them online. Many of you probably have communications with people on Twitter or LinkedIn or Google+ that you have never even met – and probably never will meet. It’s not hard to exchange ideas and support each other if you share a common interest.

The same is true for people that form a group because they will all show up to your face-to-face training or event. They, too, have a common interest and even if you have never met them, you can start your work with them online before you will lay eyes on them.

In fact, starting online may even enhance the process your event or training is intended to support. You can use an online start to help your participants get to know each other and to find common ground. They can start brainstorming about certain issues, and exchange ideas and experiences. They can structure their ideas and come to conclusions. They can start reading up on materials you provide and already ask questions about these. You can even instruct them online with a screencast for instance. Or you can assess the level and areas of their knowledge via a survey.

There are many possibilities. Which aims and which tools suit your process best is a matter of careful selection and some experience. And, of course, as always: trial and error.

In the workshop Flashing Start, my colleague Gerdi Keeler and I introduced a small group of mainly trainers and educators  to some easy-to-use tools that can be useful in an online start. As our main aim was to show our participants how you can engage with your group before you actually meet them, our workshop started online. During a week participants received small online assignments, each with a different aim:

  • Getting to know each other;
  • Brainstorming;
  • Structuring ideas;
  • Providing instructions; and
  • Visualising information.
Online tools for training

Tools used

For each aim we offered a different tool, or in some cases a few alternative tools that participants could choose from.

In the face-to-face part of the workshop we discussed the different tools and their possible uses.


Some of the more interesting points raised include:

  • In a safe online environment you share more than you would have shared in a first introduction round in a face-to-face event;
  • Online exchanges changes the way you think about some things;
  • In a safe online environment you are together, and not alone. Even though you are all sitting behind your own devices, in your own office or home;
  • In a safe online environment things start happening – conversations arise about unexpected topics;
  • It is nice and fun to learn things online, to share your products and ideas and then get feedback and reactions;
  • If others are contributing online there is a bigger (peer) pressure to also share something yourself;
  • Positive feedback by the moderator or facilitator is extremely important.

The last point points to the biggest challenges related to online starting: the role of the facilitator.

If you plan to facilitate an online start – or any other online part in a blended curriculum or process for that matter – be prepared to invest loads of time and energy!

You will need to be available in the online environment, as well as via e-mail and phone, to deal with (technical) questions and you will need to be ‘there’ to support the process by means of positive and encouraging feedback, reflection questions, follow up assignments and questions, and so on. This is not something you can easily do on the side, at a reserved time slot. You simply need to be felt to be present all the time.

However, if you are prepared to invest the energy and time needed, you will be rewarded with great results. Your face-to-face event or training can be much more focused and to the point, and your participants are fully engaged from day zero!

If you are interested in learning more about using online tools to increase your effectiveness and to make your events and trainings more attractive and engaging, check out nul100 (in Dutch).

Flip Snack booklet about Flashing Start – part 1

Flip Snack booklet about Flashing Start – part 2


Fun and Games and the Power of Twitter

Though in and of themselves the Winter Olympics in Sochi are not necessarily that funny, it is one more occasion on which I am again amazed at the power of Twitter. No, that’s wrong. Amazed at what people can do with Twitter if they have a bit of time on their hands and a brain that is wide awake. And, OK, a sense of humour, too.

Since the start of the Olympics someone is active under the Twitter handle @SochiProb and sharing impressions of the Games and the environment in which the sports men and women and entourage are working.

It reminds me of the two Twitter accounts that appeared last summer after the team bus of the Australian Orica-GreenEdge cycling team had got stuck under the finish of the first stage of the Tour de France not that long before the riders were due to arrive there for the final sprint, deciding who would wear the yellow leader’s jersey.

You may find these tweets as funny as I do, or you may not find them so special at all.

Either way, I find it interesting to see how people can use Twitter as a medium to play a role and to see that others react to that, without even having any clue as to who the people behind the Twitter handles are. We, the audience, join the make believe, and reply to the Orica-GreenEdge team bus and to Sochi Problems as if they were our long time friends.

This ‘role playing’ is also used for educational purposes, like in the case of the Twitter account @RealTimeWWII

Of course, one cannot really compare @SochiProb to @RealTimeWWII in terms of content. But both accounts do provide us a window onto places most of us can never see for ourselves and, more importantly, both give a certain different or new perspective on a situation we all think we know about from books and television.

For me, that new perspective is a crucial step in any learning process, and it is why I like Twitter so much. Without always being aware of it, I shape my view of the world  and of the people in it every day thanks to those tweeps I follow.


Things My Mobile Saw This Year

It happened almost imperceptibly. But there it is. I seem to have started using my phone to take pictures. Initially, I did not see the point of having a camera on my phone. After all, I did have a real camera and I hardly used it.

But as I was looking through my phone gallery just now I found I have loads of visual reminders of moments that have turned into nice memories – and that I somehow caught with my phone.

Below you can see a short impression of Things My Mobile Saw This Year, made with PhotoSnack. You can also view 2013 in mobile photos here.

Of course this is just fooling around and a major way of procrastinating online. After all, who apart from myself would care what things my phone caught in pictures.

However, this very easy way of collecting photos into a slide show with the option of adding text and descriptions – I did this in 10 minutes tops – can be a powerful tool when used for educational purposes. Why not ask your participants to make a PhotoSnack of their impressions of your training or workshop? Why not ask them to prepare for their learning process by showing you as trainer their day-to-day environment in which they will have to apply their new knowledge or skills? Why not ask them to show some of their routines, annoyances, or challenges? Why not ask them to show you their highlights and moments of glory after the training?

Why not, indeed. No reason why they cannot spend for instance half an hour reflecting on what they need to change or what they have learned. Such investment of time and attention is peanuts compared to whatever it is they will have to do to integrate their new knowledge and skills and insights into their daily practice. And it may well make that bumpy road ahead of them easier: it can help them focus and it can help them stay motivated if they can look back at their own visual reminders of what it is they wanted to tackle and what tools they got from the training to deal with those challenges.

As for me, it feels good to see some of the things I did and experienced so far this year. There have been a lot of good moments and I feel good to have captured them. If nothing else, that fact shows me I am still developing myself and that I am still building new habits. It is really inspirational to realise that there are always new things to be learned and applied – and this is so easily done!


Instagram as a Tool for your Learning Process?!

This summer I was finally forced to try Instagram. Until then, I must confess I had not bothered to. I do like photos, but I always seem to forget to take pictures even if that is nowadays as easy as not forgetting to bring your phone.

I first became more engaged with Instagram when the Dutch LOSmakers community organised a joint trial of it. The LOSmakers are interested in how social media can be used in processes of learning and change and the community members are focused on practical use of tools and exchange about experiences and best practices. True to form, the trial was practice-oriented: everyone who wanted to join was requested to post one photo each day during three consecutive days. The photos were to introduce yourself to the others. On the fourth day, a joint Skype session was held to share experiences and discuss how Instagram might be used in real life.

I was unable to join the Skype session, but did join the three-day photo posting preparation of it. And became hooked almost immediately. Why?

  • It turned out to be really very easy to take a quick snapshot of something around the house and to share this on Instagram
  • It turned out to be very nice to see how people reacted to this with comments and through their own photos – suddenly many of us started sharing pictures of our bookcases


  • Some really nice conversations came about with people that I’d never met before, online or face-to-face
  • It was very easy to follow all posted pictures and conversations using Webstagram with a hashtag (

Webstagram picture

  • As a bonus, we discovered the InstaCollage app that enables you to make a collage out of pictures (whether Instagram or not) including text, frames and effects



So how could Instagram be used in a learning situation?

  • As an online introduction exercise – ask participants to share pictures of something they did, of something that is important to them, of their kitchen, bookcase, etc. Keep in mind to connect the focus question for the introduction to the theme of the work to be done later on
  • As tool for reflection or evaluation – ask participants to share a picture that represents what they learned, how they feel, what was the most important insight to them, etc.
  • As a tool to take stock of a situation – ask participants to share a picture of their desk, of an annoyance in their daily work or life, of an internal notice board, etc. The focus question will of course depend on what you will be working on

As said, the easy part is taking snapshots with a phone or tablet. Most everyone can do this nowadays.

However, there are some hurdles to be taken. While Instagram allows you to like and comment, it does not send notifications when someone comments on your photo or on a comment of yours. This means you would need to regularly check to stay on top of ongoing discussions.

Webstagram does help, because you can search on the basis of agreed hashtag, and then just visit the search page ( online and browse through. As long as there are not too many photos this is easy to do. It is also possible to comment and like via Webstagram directly, without needing to go to Instagram.

A practical issue is that some people prefer to have a private status on Instagram, meaning that only their Instagram friends can see their pictures. That could lead to a situation where people are posting, but not all participants can see these pictures, more or less forcing that person to change their privacy settings if they really want to take full part.

The main reason why I might be hesitant to use Instagram as a platform is that it requires an account. If you are going to work online with a group, you will already have a platform for which people need an account (Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikispaces, etc) and to ask people to create an account on yet another platform and to have part of the discussion going on there might be too much. Especially, but not only, if the group is averse towards online tools in the first place. Replacing any of the other platforms would in my opinion not do, as Instagram does not have all the features needed for work in a closed group.

What the exercise did give me was a confirmation of the power of visuals, and the unexpected and interesting conversations that can come out of using photos and photo assignments. This is something I will certainly make use of. Those that have an Instagram account could then use that, while those that would not like to create an account on a new platform could for instance easily use Fotor, which can do much the same as InstaCollage, without account.

collage_10That does not mean that I would discard Instagram as a platform for learning and exchange altogether. I have experienced its power on the occasion of Croatia joining the EU as its 28th Member State, 1 July 2013. For many reasons this country has a firm place in my heart and I was very sorry that I was unable to be there at the magic moment. Instead, I became a Twitter junkie and followed whatever and whoever I could to stay updated in the days leading up to the 1st of July and on the night of 30 June. One of my new Twitter friends invited me to link also on Instagram, and that’s when I discovered a wealth of picture posts. And it wasn’t just enthusiastic Croatian citizens posting pictures of the main square, the Croatian government was really very active as well in sharing the atmosphere of these days, combined with information about Croatia and its accession process.

This unlimited sharing of information across borders is what, in my opinion, really shows the value of Instagram. After all, learning is based on being confronted with new information, reflecting on it and engaging about it, and embedding the new insights into your life somehow. Precisely that is what Instagram offered me in the lead-up to Croatia’s accession and in the introduction picture round with the LOSmakers.

wwwvladahr on Instagram

wwwvladahr on Instagram



How to Make your Message more Attractive

I guess by now most of us are aware that the web2.0 is becoming increasingly visual. Information is shared as stories in the form of pictures, videos, infographics, cartoons, animations, wordles, drawings or combinations of these (like in Glogster and Storify).

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

Continue reading


Starting a Learning Process Online

Offline presentation of tools and discussion (photo Gerdi Keeler)

Offline presentation of tools and discussion (photo Gerdi Keeler)

On 31 January last, Gerdi Keeler and I conducted a workshop for NVO2 on how you can start a learning process online already before the first face-to-face event. In order to enable our participants to experience this concept, rather than just hearing about it, we created a closed online environment in which we shared smaller and bigger assignments with the participants. All assignments were related to the use of an online tool. Assignments were also all related to sharing experiences and information.

Using assignments before a learning process or training starts is of course nothing very revolutionary. In the sign up form, future participants are often asked about their motivation, about what it is they want to learn exactly and about their experience with the subject matter. Trainers or teachers also quite regularly ask participants to read something beforehand. All this information could be used to make participants aware of their own personal motivation to take part, to tailor the training to the real needs, to avoid spending time on something everyone already knows and to render the time spent together more effective by sharing some of the theory beforehand.

Also not new is the fact that such assignments tend to yield limited results, and that you mostly find out about how little results were achieved during the face-to-face event.

However, with the existing wealth of online tools you as trainer or teacher have much more possibility to get acquainted with your prospective participants than before. If you do not want to bother them, you can simply look up their LinkedIn profile to see what their experience is, and what skills they think they have. You can check out their Twitter account to see what makes them tick, and if they have a blog you can find out even more about their interests, activities and skills.

If you would like to engage with your participants before the training you can make use of many different online tools. You can ask them to share pictures, videos, cartoons, etc. or to comment on a blog post if you want to go in the direction of Flipping your Classroom.

These assignments can of course be sent out and collected via e-mail. But why take the risk of miscommunication? We all know a thing or two about “Reply all” in moments when it shouldn’t have been used and vice versa, as well as those times that you think you are sending something to one person and it turns out your address book selected another person with the same name. And why not use the chance to create a network of the participants? In other words, it is worth your while to create an online environment where you  and participants can post assignments, results, questions and replies.

Yammer network

Yammer network

In any case, we decided to create a closed network on Yammer for our communications with the participants.  We felt that this tool would provide the best possibility for discussion and sharing, and would probably not be too difficult to use for most people. Just in case, we shared a short guide on using Yammer via e-mail as well as in the Yammer network itself, so that participants could look up certain functionalities as they went along.

Most of the assignments we shared  involved visual tools, like Bitstrips, Wordle, Tagxedo, ReciteThis and the like. In all, some 12 tools were shared, excluding Yammer. Some tools were used by all participants, some by none and most by the majority of participants. Bitstrips, Wordle, Tagxedo and ReciteThis were the most popular tools: they were the most used and participants were the most enthusiastic about them.

What did you gain from the online start? In Spiderscribe

What did you gain from the online start? In Spiderscribe

Participants were very enthusiastic about the online start. They liked getting acquainted online. They found this way of starting “inspirational“, and had learned a lot from the tools and tips shared and from the exchange online. The tools presented were useful and clarifications provided were helpful. They had gotten a lot of ideas for their own work. This had motivated them hugely.

Reflections on the online start underlined the importance of selecting the right tool for the online environment. For some participants Yammer had been easy to use, and as the few questions they had were answered swiftly, they did not experience problems much. For others, however, it felt as if they had to learn two things: to use Yammer and to learn about the online tools offered through Yammer. It seems that they did not consider Yammer itself as one of the tools to be learned for an online start – just as your regular participant would see less use in investing time to learn working with Yammer compared to investing time in the course topic.

Another issue that was mentioned was that of expectations management. Participants had the feeling that they had to do everything that was offered, and that there was not enough time for this. In the end, no one managed to try out everything, although a few participants managed to try most of the tools. This issue could be seen either as a communication issue or as a responsibility issue: should trainers communicate precisely what needs to be done and how much time needs to be invested? Or should participants take responsibility for and ownership of what they want to learn, and also for those things that they decided are not top priority right now?

Here, I think, are some issues at stake that you might not encounter as much in case of offline assignments or even e-mailed assignments. While all assignments were individual-based, sharing them in an online environment where you also collect the products for all to see, could result in peer pressure, even if unintended. Participants see what others have done, they read the stories, questions and answers. In Yammer they can also easily check the statistics (although I do not believe they did in this case). They can also see when something was done – for instance, it would have been pretty much obvious if there had been a “last minute” worker included in the group. This is not the case if you send out assignments via e-mail and collect all replies individually. In that situation, people can be blissfully unaware of who has done what and whether that was within a suggested time frame or not. They also cannot see the quality of other people’s work. Of course, they can also not be inspired by each other, nor help each other out or learn from one another. Which is why we chose to create a network.

Another issue is that of the possibility to use certain online tools on the job. Some organisations do not allow the use of certain tools on work computers, and some people do not feel free to do such assignments from their work desks. This then leads to a need to do these assignments after work hours, from a home device. And that is something that some people simply do not like to do. That may not just be the case for employed participants, also freelancers can find it difficult to find time for self-development and can fail to see that certain tools will help them as professional as well. I do not think that this issue of work versus private sphere was too important for this group, but it was mentioned as an issue that could be important or even crucial to other groups of participants.

A last issue I would like to mention is that starting a learning process online offers the opportunity of a diversity that can be overwhelming and that is accelerated by the group process. As said above, during our ten days of online work with the group we shared 12 tools. Some of them were similar to each other and others not, some of them we asked participants to use, others we just asked them to look at. Some assignments could be ticked off in 5 minutes or less, other could take up more time.

Variety of tools shared, collected on Pinterest

Variety of tools shared, collected on Pinterest

Our idea was to share a variety of things that could appeal to different people, and to make sure that nobody would get bored by not seeing something interesting for a few days. This is also what we had experienced in an online course in which we were the participants ourselves: that people tend to “cherry pick”, depending on time available and the connection they see between what is offered and their personal and professional development goals. However, this is not how it worked for all members of our group. They got overloaded by the tools, the assignments, the products and reactions of others and seemingly unrelated discussions. My conclusion is that an online start requires a great level of discipline and balancing from the participants: they should dedicate time to it on a regular basis in order not to get lost, they should be very clear on what it is they want to learn and why, and they should make sure the online group process does not get in the way of their own plans and needs. On the other hand, as facilitator you will have to nurture these skills in the group members. I do not believe that labelling one assignment as obligatory and another not will help, nor that setting a requirement in terms of time investment will solve this. But I do believe that a facilitator should help participants set their own goals and that a facilitator should help create understanding for the different goals within the group.


Playful Visualisation Tools

If you want to spend 5 minutes and have some fun with a twist, then you should try BigHugeLabs, ReciteThis or Picture2Life. All you need is a picture or a quote. And a plan. And in a few minutes you will have an inspiring poster or a picture with a caption.

BigHugeLabs: Captioner

BigHugeLabs: Captioner

If you haven’t got inspiration, ReciteThis has a wide range of quotes you can choose from and make a nice poster-type picture of.

Uplifting! ReciteThis

Uplifting! ReciteThis

All this is of course a nice break away from work.

But you could also use these tools for work-related messages.

You could make a ReciteThis out of a quote of one of your participants.

Participants defining the aim of a shadow report. ReciteThis

Participants defining the aim of a shadow report. ReciteThis

Or you could use the Motivator tool of BigHugeLabs to add a message to a photo of an activity.

BigHugeLabs: Motivator

BigHugeLabs: Motivator

Or you could personalise a message to someone using Captioner in BigHugeLabs.

Or, if you want others to do the dirty work, you could invite your participants to share a picture with a quote or message by way of introduction or as an assignment related to the topic of your workshop.


So even a bit of fooling around with tools like these can give you tons of ideas for your work – justifying those 5 minutes break in a heartbeat! Have fun!



Finally, I can say I started using Pinterest. Obviously, I had been reading about it, and had looked at other people’s pin boards and made good use of them. I also set up an account months ago and dabbled a bit. But I have to admit I was still more hooked to Delicious as a tool to create online libraries and was uncertain whether Pinterest would provide me with real added value. Especially now that Delicious has become much more visual as well.  Now I can say I got it.

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Like in Delicious, you can save links in an organised way. In Pinterest this organisation is called a pin board, in Delicious it is a stack. Like in Delicious nowadays, these links are shown in a visual way: you get a one picture preview. The difference is, that you can save all links in Delicious whereas Pinterest needs a “pinnable” element on the location you want to link to. Not all sites have such elements, but there is a way around that, see below.

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Both tools allow you to add a short description of the link, so that other people are able to see if this link may be interesting for them before clicking on it. In Delicious you can also tag your saved links, making it easier for visitors and yourself to select even within a stack which links might be useful. As far as I can see, this is not yet possible in Pinterest.

Like Delicious, Pinterest is a social media tool. Meaning that you can make your own profile and follow what other people do. You can re-pin pins saved by others. And you can comment and discuss.

Both tools allow for very easy saving of links, by adding an element to your bookmarking menu (“Save on Delicious” or “Pin It”.)

Both tools can be used in class and for trainings; sharing background materials in one location, collaborating in a group on this collection, etc.

So what is the added value of Pinterest that I truly realised only just now?

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Easy! Pinterest allows you to upload your own content, too.  Content that is not online and thus does not have a link to bookmark. You can make pins out of your pictures, infographics and screenshots.  That way, your pin board can become a collection of links and photos, instead of just a library of links. This aspect is also the key to including links without so-called pinnable elements. You can make a screenshot of part of the page, upload it as a pin, and add the link afterwards.

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

This combination of links and own materials makes it, for example, possible to create a pin board relating to a certain event or activity that you have organised. You could collect all press releases, media clippings, photos and videos about the event in one pin board. That way, both people who were there and people who weren’t can easily see what went on and find all related materials in one publicly accessible place.

But, like Eric Sheninger, you can also create a pin board sharing methodsWeb2.0 Tools for Educators.

Possibilities are endless. And although I am sure I will continue using Delicious, I will definitely start using Pinterest more actively than I have.

So, just get started like I finally did and see how you like it!

Example of a pin board about an event

Example of a pin board about an event


On Safari With Social Media Tools

At the IAF the Netherlands annual conference in June this year, Simon Koolwijk, Gerdi Keeler and I conducted the workshop On Safari with Social Media Tools – how to embed lessons learned in your learning process. In two hours we tried to share experiences of using social media in learning processes and communities as well as to give the group an idea of some of the tools we referred to. To start up the conversation we introduced a social media bingo with a variety of questions, like “Find a person in this room who has made 10 or more tweets“, “Find someone who knows possible uses of QR codes” and “Do you have 3 or more apps on your smart phone; which ones?“.

During this short exercise it became clear that we had quite a diverse group on our hands. Several participants already were quite experienced but were looking for more in-depth insights into best practices, while others were not so experienced and wanted to practise.

After a short Prezi presentation we therefore decided to split up and work in 3 smaller groups, in order to meet the different needs.

To check to what extent we had succeeded, we invited participants to share their opinions by answering 3 questions on Polleverywhere.

The main insights and ideas participants gained were:

  • There is much more possible than I thought!
  • Possibility to create a community for small groups in a learning process
  • Importance of blended learning & change (mix of online and offline learning)
  • More online meetings!
  • I want to get to know Yammer
  • To plan for use of social media tools in learning processes
  • Ideas for online and offline activities before and after face-to-face events
  • I will need to practise – I am lagging behind in the field of social media
  • Better to be proficient in a few tools, and to use them well than to try to use them all at once
  • Variety of social media tools available that can help embed results of my workshops

Tools that participants were interested in using were:

In order to start using these tools most participants indicated they would need time and patience. A few participants mentioned that they would search for more information online and just try out the selected tools. Overall, participants were satisfied with the workshop and felt they gained new ideas and inspiration to use social media in their work.

And what did I learn? It became clear to me that while there are many tools out there not that many facilitators are familiar with them or are using them in their work. Some are making use of the possibilities social media offer, but are not always satisfied with the return on their time investment in this. This may be caused by the learning process involved in getting to know tools and discovering their possible uses. But it may also be caused by a feeling that dabbling with social media is taking away precious time from the real work – and the fact that social media use is not perceived as a genuine part of that work, yet.

This attitude will change only as and when professionals will see concrete examples and best practices of how social media can actually facilitate their work and how social media make them more effective on the job. Though it is relatively easy to try out different tools on your own, it is not as easy to successfully deploy them within your organisation or learning processes. Exchanging experiences, ideas and fears in combination with practical tips on how to use certain tools, tailor-made advice regarding suitable tools for your specific situation and practising in a small (online/offline) group over a period of time, may help bridge the gap between knowing about a tool and effectively applying it. With our workshop we wanted to give a peek preview into what social media can do for your work and how useful further “training” in this area can be, also for facilitators. Looking at the positive reactions, I think we succeeded in this first step. So now – on to the next!


Online Polling

Whether you are working online or face-to-face with a group it is useful to know what is going on with the people in your group. Are they getting new insights? Are they satisfied? Are they still engaged?

If you are working face-to-face you can of course easily check by taking a look at the group. However, we all know that there are always some people that are hard to read or that hardly speak up. With an online tool you might get them to talk and express themselves.

View only the mood of those you are following

View only the mood of those you are following

A funny tool you can use during a (face-to-face) meeting or workshop is Moodpanda. Participants can rate their mood and provide a “reason” for the grade. It’s easy to change your mood status, so participants can easily keep their status up-to-date.


The downside is that you need an account to use Moodpanda and that you will need to follow the people in the group if you want to keep track of the group only. Otherwise you get a feed of everyone using Moodpanda at that moment of which your group is a difficult to discern part only. If you follow others you can choose to have a feed of people you follow only.

Once set up, you can react to other people’s status or simply “hug” a person in need of some TLC  (If in real need, the Moodpanda comes to the rescue, too!, see picture below). Moodpanda can provide insight into what your participants are willing to share regarding their current mood and can add a new level of interaction to your activity. It can show you relations and interactions within the group, as well as the relation between a mood rating and the activity you are doing with the group at a certain moment. Thus it can be a powerful tool to check if you are still on track or if you need to make changes in your plan.

Moodpanda to the Rescue

Moodpanda to the Rescue

Another tool you can use for getting a grasp of participants’ opinions during an event or afterwards is Polleverywhere.

Poll in Polleverywhere

Poll in Polleverywhere

You can start a poll with or without having an account. If you do not create an account your poll will be saved for 2 weeks. People can reply online (phone, computer) or via sms. A poll can consist of one or more grouped questions, and questions can be open or multiple choice. It is possible to post replies more than once from the same computer, which can be practical if not all participants have their own device with them.

Overview of responses

Overview of responses

Results can be shown in different ways, and if you take out a paid plan you can even export the results.

More visual ways of sharing the results with your group are the live text wall and a word cloud.

Live text wall showing replies

Live text wall showing replies


Results in a word cloud

Results in a word cloud

Polleverywhere is different from Moodpanda in that you can prepare a poll beforehand, there is no live interaction between participants (although you could show the results as a moving, live text wall) and participants answer anonymously. Results are kept, and not lost in a feed that you would need to scroll through.

Polleverywhere is a bit easier to set up than SurveyMonkey or FluidSurveys, but the type of questions and answers is more limited, too.

The possibility of showing a live text wall of results of Polleverywhere during an event can be a very nice way of sharing inputs and using these as a basis for further discussion, same as the word cloud way of presenting feedback that makes very visual which are the main key words used by the group.

I used both Moodpanda and Polleverywhere for the first time last week and found both of them useful – and easy to use. Try them and see for yourself how interaction with your group may change!