Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.

US Workshops
Thiagi's Public Workshop in Indianapolis
A special discount for TGL readers.

Tool Kit
Card Games for Training
15 ways to design card games.

Debriefing Game
Common and Uncommon
The game after the game.

Guest Gamer
An Interview with Nuno Delicado
Effective communication and productive results.

Construction Game
The Highest Tower
How do you define “the highest”?

The Anchor Effect by Tracy Tagliati
More about decisionmaking.

Card Game Contents
What's on the cards?

Online Game
This Will Kill You
Leading causes of death.

From Brian's Brain
All About Choices by Brian Remer
A link to the latest issue of Brian's newsletter.

Scenario-Based Survey
Instant Messages by Tracy Tagliati
What would you do?

Survey Results
Positive Facilitation by Tracy Tagliati
A summary of your responses.

Check It Out
Don't Lecture Me
Three lectures against lecturing!

From College Teaching to Corporate Training
Act like a professor.





To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.

Editorial Roster

Author and Editor : Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor : Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editors: Tracy Tagliati and Jean Reese

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer

Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2012 by The Thiagi Group. However, they may be freely reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no need to obtain special permission for such use as long as you do not reproduce more than 100 copies per year. Please include the following statement on all reproductions:

Reprinted from THIAGI GAMELETTER. Copyright © 2012 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

For any other use of the content, please contact us ( ) for permission.

Subscription Info

To sign up, or to donate and help us continue this newsletter, please see the Online Newsletter page on our website ( ).

Feedback Request

Thiagi believes in practicing what he preaches. This is an interactive newsletter, so interact already! Send us your feedback, sarcastic remarks, and gratuitous advice through email to . Thanks!

US Workshops

Thiagi's Public Workshop in Indianapolis

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Singapore conducting my workshop on Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training. I facilitated it twice, once as a public workshop and later as an in-house workshop.

Earlier, during the last months of 2011, I facilitated the workshop in Stockholm and Paris.

During March 21-23 of this year, I will facilitate this workshop in Indianapolis. Although the workshop has been conducted around the world, the Indianapolis session will be specially focused on the training needs in the U.S.

Basic Details

When? March 21-23, 2012 (Wednesday thru Friday).

Where? Courtyard Indianapolis at the Capitol, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. They have a web page at

How much? Registration for the workshop will be at the same rate that we charged in 2011: $1,495. TGL readers can get a discount of $370. Click here to register at this special rate.

More About the Workshop

This 3-day workshop walks the talk. You will learn innovative principles and procedures and apply them to designing and delivering learning activities that meet your training objectives, audiences, and needs.

On the first day of the workshop, you will experience, select, design, and conduct these types of training activities: openers, structured sharing activities, interactive lectures, textra games, jolts, and closers. You will also learn flexible facilitation and debriefing techniques that help you transform disruptive participants into supportive allies.

On the second day, you will experience, select, design, and conduct these types of training activities: board games, card games, improv games, instructional puzzles, and instructional magic.

On the third day, you will explore various types of simulations: the case method, action learning, roleplaying, interactive storytelling, cash games, and simulations with playing cards.

I have conducted this workshop since 1984. However, this is not a canned program. You and your cohorts will dictate the scope and sequence of exactly what is going to happen in the workshop through your participation in structured survey activities.

I don't want to brag, but I'd like to repeat what one of the Singapore participants wrote in an anonymous evaluation sheet: I was fully engaged throughout the workshop and I learned practical skills that I can apply tomorrow. More importantly, I now know how make my training participants feel fully engaged and master important skills that can be immediately applied.

Check it out for yourself. Take a look at our detailed brochure (190K PDF).

Register Now

To register at the discounted rate, visit our online store.

Tool Kit

Card Games for Training

There is something special about long, long distance flights that shifts my brain into a divergent thinking spree. Recently, I flew from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei to Los Angeles to Indianapolis with significant waiting times at each airport and with a cancelled flight. So I wiled away my time recounting different types of training games that involved cards. I thought about the games I had designed previously and about the games that I want to design in the near future. Then I tried out different approaches for classifying these card games. After exploring several alternatives, I decided that the most useful classification scheme is to organize them in terms of what's on the cards.

Here are brief descriptions of 17 types of card games for training.

1. Classification Cards

What's on the cards: Classification card games deal with training topics that contain different categories (such as communication styles or personality types) or steps (as in performance-improvement or critical problem solving). Each card has a value (such as 10 D) and a statement that can be classified into one of the categories or steps. The playing card values are for reference purposes only: The correct classification for the item on the card is displayed in a table arranged by the card values.

How the game is played: By using the classification category as the suit of the card, we can play any traditional card game (such as Rummy or Euchre). In Audio Slapjack, each player takes turns to pick up the top card of the shuffled deck and read the item. The first player to slap a buzzer gives the classification category for the item. If this category is correct, the player earns a score point. If incorrect, the player loses a point. The first player to collect seven points wins the game.

2. Conversation Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a conversation starter: a question or a statement related to the training topic.

How the game is played: Participants hold a conversation about the item on the card for about 2 or 3 minutes. If you don't think this game is too bland, players may take turns to sit out a round and declare which player contributed the most to the conversation.

3. Debate Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a debatable item (such as Customer satisfaction is overrated or Who is more important: Internal Customer or external customer?) related to the training topic.

How the game is played: Players take turns to be the first speaker. After a debate card is turned over, all players get ready to participate in the debate. The first player makes a 2-minute presentation. Other players throw a die and the person who threw the smallest number debates the first player by presenting the opposing point of view for 2 minutes. At the end of the debate, the other players decide who won.

4. Fact Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a random fact related to the training topic (such as X-17 is the least expensive item in our product line).

How the game is played: Each player receives five cards. Players trade cards with each other. The first player to collect five facts related to the same item wins the game.

5. Flash Cards

What's on the card: Each card displays a question on one side and the correct answer on the other side. Example: Swedish words on one side and the English equivalents on the other side.

How the game is played: Flash card decks can be used to play solitaire games to provide drill practice. For example, the player can read each Swedish word, give its English equivalent, and sort the deck into correct and incorrect piles. Later, she can pick up the incorrect piles and go through them as many times as necessary until she is able to give the correct answer to all cards.

6. Graphic Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains an illustration, a diagram, or a photograph related to the training topic (such as photographs of safety hazards in an office room).

How the game is played: In this two-player game, the players study two different pictures. Then each player picks up one of the pictures and holds it such a way that she can see it but the other player cannot. Players take turn to ask a closed question related to the picture (such as How many items are plugged into the same outlet on the wall to the left?) Each correct answer earns a point. The first player to accumulate 10 points wins the game.

7. Listening Item Cards

What's on the card: Each card contains a 99-word narrative related to the training topic.

How the game is played: Players take turns to be the Reader who picks up a card and reads the narrative. Other players listen carefully but do not take notes. The Reader asks three closed questions based on the narrative. The other players write the answer to each question. The Reader gives the answer. Players who wrote the correct answer earn a point. Other players lose a point. Game ends when all players have had a turn to be the Reader. At this time, the player with most points is the winner.

8. Multiple-Choice Question Cards

What's on the card: Each card contains a question with four multiple-choice alternatives (labeled A, B, C, and D). Example: Which software package is most suitable for a small business that does not employ an accountant? A. FreshBooks, B. Moneydance, C. QuickBooks, D. Quicken.

How the game is played: Each person has seven counters of a unique color. There are four bowls marked A, B, C, and D. Players place a counter that corresponds to the alternative they consider to be the correct one for the item on the card. After checking with the correct answer in the back of the card, players take back their counter if it was placed in the wrong bowl. The chips in the correct bowl are dumped into a paper cup. The first person that runs out of her counters wins the game.

9. Question Cards

What's on the card: Each card contains a question on one side and the correct answer on the other side. All the questions relate to the same training topic.

How the game is played: Players take turns to read and answer the question. Any other player may challenge the answer if she thinks it is incorrect. Player wins the card if nobody challenges (even if her answer is incorrect). If there is a challenge, the person who gave the correct answer wins the card and collects a penalty card from the other player. The first player to collect five cards wins the game.

10. Response Cards

What's on the cards: Nothing. Each player has a packet of blank index cards.

How the game is played: Players take turns to act as the Inquisitioner who asks an open question related to the training that requires a short answer. Example: What are the three words that customers hate to hear? Or What is a disadvantage of apologizing to an abusive customer? The other players write the answer on a card and give it to the Inquisitioner with the written side down. The Inquisitioner shuffles the response cards, turns them written side up, reads each response, and selects the best response. The author of this response earns a point. Game continues with different Inquisitioners until a player collects five points and wins.

11. Quotation Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a quotation, an epigram, a proverb, or a pithy saying that is related to the training topic.

How the game is played: Each player prepares a 30-second presentation explaining the key points from the quotation and its application to the real world. Players throw a pair of dice and the person with the smallest number makes her presentation. At the end of this presentation, all other players rate it on a 5-point scale by holding up one to five fingers. Each player gets to make one presentation. At the end of these presentations, the player with the highest score wins.

12. Situation Cards

What's on the cards: Each card describes a situation related to the training topic (such as the first 90 days in the life of a new manager).

How the game is played: Each player writes a brief note about how to handle the situation. After 2 minutes, the responses are exchanged among the players and read aloud. Each player selects the best response (but not her own response). The person who wrote the response that was selected by most players wins a point.

13. Task cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a task related to concepts and procedures from the training topic (such as Silently draw pictures to elicit the phrase “satisfied customer”).

How the game is played: Players take turns picking up the top card from the shuffled deck and performing the task. Points depend on the nature of the task. In the sample given above, the player wins a point if someone guesses the secret phase within 2 minutes. The player who guessed the phrase also wins a point.

14. Tip Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a guideline or strategy associated with the training topic. Example from a game on meeting management: Make sure that all the key people—and only the key people—are invited to the meeting.

How the game is played: Each player receives five tip cards. Players take turns to play the role of a Client and describe a relevant critical incident (such as You have run out of time and there are still three items on the meeting agenda). Other players study their cards and select a suitable tip to handle the situation. The Client decides which tip is the best one and awards one point to the player selected the card.

15. Value Cards

What's on the cards: Each card contains a value (such as Integrity or Playfulness).

How the game is played: Each player picks up a card and pairs up with another player. The two players discuss the values and decide which one is more important to their team at this time. The player with the selected card pairs up with another player. The player whose value was not selected becomes a mediator. Whenever two players cannot agree on the better value, the mediator decides, takes the selected card, and makes the two players play the roles of mediators.

Your Turn Now

Obviously, we could use other types of cards to create useful and interesting training games. Let us know if you have other ideas about what could go on the cards. We will continue exploring card games in future issues of TGL.

Debriefing Game

Debriefing Games are interactive techniques that are used for encouraging reflection and dialogue about an earlier experiential activity. These games require processing of a common experience to extract key learning points from it.

This is a debriefing game that uses questions from the six phases of debriefing.

Common and Uncommon


Participants individually write short answers to a debriefing question. Later, groups of participants jointly identify the most common and the most unique response from a set of answers. All participants discuss these answers.


Prior to conducting this activity, all participants should have undergone a common experience such as playing a simulation game or taking part in a roleplay.


To discover and discuss answers to debriefing questions related to an experiential activity conducted earlier.


Minimum: 4
Maximum: Any number
Best: 12 to 30


10 to 20 minutes



Come up with a list of debriefing questions that are open ended and require brief answers. Here is a suggested set based on the six phase model for debriefing:

  1. How do you feel? What are three emotions that are felt by participants during the previous activity?
  2. What happened? What are two critical events in the previous activity?
  3. What did you learn? What two things did you learn from the previous activity?
  4. How does it relate? What are two similarities between the previous activity and what happens in your workplace?
  5. What if? How would the participants' behavior have changed if we conducted the previous activity for a longer period of time?
  6. What next? How would you apply the insights from the previous activity to your performance in the workplace?

Modify these questions to suit the specific activity that you are debriefing.


Ask for written responses. Give a blank index card to each participant. Read one of your debriefing questions and invite participants to individually write a brief answer on the index card. Impose a suitable time limit.

Collect and distribute the answer cards. Organize participants into teams of approximately equal numbers. Collect the answer cards from each team and give them to another team.

Ask for common and uncommon answers. Tell the team members to read the answers and jointly identify the most frequent response. Also ask the teams to select the most unique answer among the cards.

Discuss the answers. After a suitable pause, ask each team to announce the most common answer it identified. Discuss why many participants gave this answer. Later, ask each team to announce the most unique answer. Discuss why someone came up with this answer.

Repeat the procedure. Give another blank index card to each participant and read another debriefing question. Conduct the activity as many times as possible.

Guest Gamer

Nuno Delicado ( ) is a founding partner of Pluris ( ), a negotiation consulting firm. He helps individuals and organizations in the private and public sectors to develop negotiation capabilities and to achieve long-term results through effective communication and productive relationships. Nuno believes in the power of challenging assumptions—starting with his own. His recent negotiation projects include supporting a global NGO for resolving conflict among its members, an international airline negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and an automotive procurement team moving from a win-lose culture to a win-win culture.

Passionate about the diversity and similarities of human cultures, Nuno has visited over 50 countries and has lived in nine countries in three continents over the past decade.

An Interview with Nuno Delicado

TGL: Nuno, how did you get into designing and using games?

Nuno: As in the case of many people, I was a creative kid but got more linear and boring over time. The hobby of computer programming kept me active in my teen years when I created text-only adaptations of Tetris, Pac-Man, Centipede, and other games that my high school classmates played in the obsolete PCs at school. I was also a fan of creating or adapting board games: I developed a stock market add-on to Monopoly, where players could invest cash in stocks that randomly moved up and down.

My first serious game was in a consulting project for a bank some years ago. I created a points system for a client retention call center, where the agents received points according to the outcome of each call. These points had absolutely no practical implications: they did not affect bonuses or promotions, or even the performance ratings. Still, it was amazing how people changed their job behavior to earn points. It became an extremely powerful tool to motivate the staff members toward desired behaviors. Several years later this “temporary” system was still being used in the call center. This event opened my eyes to the potential of using games for effectively impacting “real life”.

TGL: Where do you use games?

Nuno: I use games mostly in my negotiation and mediation workshops. Games are not only fun but also, and more importantly, a very effective way of simulating real life in low-risk environments and providing powerful learning experiences. I use games to challenge participants' assumptions, as a warm up to build their interest in learning, and to safely field-test important concepts and tools.

TGL: How do your participants respond?

Nuno: They love playing games. Good games attract the participants holistically: they engage their body, mind, heart, and soul. Ironically, I have never seen people not taking the games seriously. The few complaints are typically about not having enough time to fully work on the games rather than complaints about too much time spent on games.

I have had some participants getting upset with a game, and that shows how powerful the game was. I am sure it was an unforgettable learning experience for the participants.

TGL: What advice do you have to newcomers about interactive training?

Nuno: Learning to use interactive training is like learning a new language: The challenge is to overcome the inhibition to try new things that we are not 100 percent sure about. So the strategy is to practice, practice, and practice.

Here are my tips to help explore games and exercises while minimizing potential risks: Have a purpose in mind. Get inspiration from experienced facilitators. Implement what you liked and what you feel comfortable with. Experiment with one thing at a time so that you can discover what works and what does not. Regularly adjust events in your training sessions to ensure continuous professional development.

TGL: What types of games do you use most frequently?

Nuno: I am a big fan of jolts and use them often. I particularly value how jolts are time-efficient and connect effectively with our unconscious minds, leading to long-lasting impact. I also use several roleplays to permit participants to practice negotiation concepts and strategies in a safe environment and to extract learning points for application in real life.

TGL: What is your favorite game?

Nuno: The Arm Wrestling Exercise: This is an extremely simple two-person jolt about competition and collaboration in which the goal is to collect as many points as possible by making the other player's hand touch the table. This activity provides immensely rich debriefing discussions, with powerful aha moments and life-changing shifts in assumptions about negotiations and about ourselves. In just 10 seconds, this activity helps participants to challenge the assumptions they make about the exercise, its objectives, the relationship with the other player, and the strategy for maximizing results. All of these insights have real life implications.

TGL: Who are your favorite game designers?

Nuno: Definitely Thiagi, who lives and breathes games. His commitment to game design and applications is impressive and inspiring, causing me to frequently consider how I can make every part of my training session more interactive and engaging.

TGL: What book recommendations do you have?

Nuno: I strongly recommend Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. This is a book that contains no explicit games although it is a good example of Socratic facilitation. It made me smash several critical assumptions about the world and humankind.

TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games?

Nuno: Games have been part of human life for a long time and surely they have a long future ahead.

I have just come from discussing collaboration opportunities at an artificial intelligence research center. All the researchers in this organization are focused on very human elements such as emotions, empathy, relationships, influence, power, and conflict resolution. These are all so critical in the negotiation process! It was a pleasant surprise to find that their favorite buzzword these days is gamification.

I suspect that many of us will soon be using mobile devices (ranging from a deck of cards to high-tech gizmos) for transforming people's idle time (such as in commuting or standing in queues) into replicable and scalable learning experiences. This has the potential to impact billions of people without requiring significant investments, infrastructure, or human resources.

Two-year-olds are already playing with smart phones and tablet computers. Maybe the future is already here?

Construction Game

The Highest Tower

This is a game in which participants build “the highest tower”—and explore cooperation and competition.


To challenge assumptions about how the world works and who is in our team and who is not.


Minimum: 3
Maximum: any number
Best: around tables with 3 to 6 people each


30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the construction task and the depth of debriefing discussion.


This exercise can be done with a variety of building materials, according to availability, context, and your preferences. For example, you may use matches, toothpicks, colored dough, LEGO blocks, wire, paper, glue, stapler, scissors, and so on.

To stretch participants' imagination and resourcefulness, you may let the participants choose any building materials from what is available in the room. Of course, you need to make sure that no third party's property is damaged.


Organize teams. Allocate participants to equal-sized teams. Ask members of each team to sit around a table.

Distribute building materials. Give each team a collection of materials.

Give the instruction. Make sure the participants are paying attention. Tell the teams, “Your objective is to build the highest tower using the materials on the table. Your tower will not be compared with other teams' towers. You have 30 minutes to complete your tower.”

Do not answer any question. Repeat the instructions once more. Explain that you will not be answering questions during the activity.

Get them started. Give time warnings at the end of 15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 29 minutes. Stop the activity after exactly 30 minutes.

Take measurements. Depending on how competitive the group is, you may measure the height of each tower. Alternatively, you may skip this step and proceed directly to the debriefing discussion.


Invite participants to reflect about the activity and participate in a discussion. Use this standard set of debriefing questions:

Here are some additional questions that you may want to use:

Learning Points

Steer the debriefing discussion toward the value of questioning assumptions. Use these types of questions to challenge the participants:


The Highest Tower is a framegame to be adapted for a variety of contexts and purposes. Depending on the specific focus and interests of the group, you may vary this game to feature different learning points. You can reinforce these points through appropriate debriefing questions.

Here are some examples of potential variations:

Other tasks. Building “the highest tower” creates a good opportunity for teamwork and for challenging assumptions. Depending on the context and objectives, other tasks could work equally well or even better. For example, you may ask the participants to build the strongest tower, the longest bridge, the most compelling business presentation, or the most exciting story.

Diversity. Establish rules about communication that create a cross-cultural environment within and across the teams. For example, some participants can only talk, others can only write, and others can only use gestures. During the debriefing discussion, extract learning points that can be associated with real life cross-cultural situations.

Communication. You can create obstacles to communication by making the participants work blindfolded or by using instant messaging only. During the debrief discuss how communication variables affect the definition of success.

Different resources. Distribute different building materials to different individuals or tables. During the debriefing, discuss how access to different resources in real life is used as an excuse to complain about injustice or as an empowering opportunity for collaboration.

Adversity. Create a chance event 10 minutes before the end that disrupts the normal building process. For example, you can announce a cyclone and go around the tables pushing each tower and throwing it down. However, be careful not to antagonize the participants and losing your trust level. During the debrief, discuss how the participants dealt with the disruptive situation and whether the event increased the anxiety level of the teams.

Team changes. After about 15 minutes, ask some or all participants to rotate around the tables, totally redistributing the participants.


The Anchor Effect
by Tracy Tagliati

Last month's jolt explored how we make decisions. Here's another jolt that deals with the same topic and features a concept called anchoring. This jolt demonstrates how the natural human tendency of becoming heavily attached to a starting value can influence our decisionmaking. You can learn more about the effects of anchoring by searching the Internet for research done by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnemen.


The participants work with two different versions of the same questionnaire. One version asks a series of questions that provide low anchor values, while the other version provides high anchor values. The debriefing discussion examines how anchoring affects our decisionmaking.


To demonstrate how our decisionmaking can be easily influenced by numerical anchoring.

Training Topics




Minimum: 2
Maximum: Any number
Best: 15 to 20


Two versions of the Trivia Questions handout. One version for half the participants and one for the other half.


3 minutes for the activity. 5 minutes for the debriefing.




Make copies of both versions of the handout. Arrange them in a single pile, alternating between the two versions.


Distribute the handout. Give one copy of the handout to each participant. Be careful not to reveal that there are two different versions of the handout. Use a single stack of handouts (as suggested above) containing both versions rather than distributing the handouts from separate stacks.

Give instructions. As a piece of misdirection, inform the participants that they are taking part in a pilot test of a general-knowledge questionnaire. Tell the participants to work independently. Ask the participants to read the questions and write their answers on the handout. Wait about 2 minutes for them to complete the work.

Poll the Participants. Ask the following questions in your own words:

Announce the correct answer: There are 47 African countries.

Check the impact of the handouts. Reveal the secret that there were two versions of the handout and only the last question was the same. Choose a few participants to read samples of the questions that were asked on each handout and point out the differences.


More of the participants with the lower anchor values would have guessed that the number of countries in Africa is fewer, compared to the participants with the higher anchor values.

Conduct a discussion to emphasize how the responses to the first five questions provided an anchor value influencing the estimate for the final question.

Ask the participants how and where the anchoring phenomenon may bias them in other decision-making situations.

Learning Point

The effects of anchoring influence all our real-world judgments in all domains that include financial, romantic, professional, and gastronomic decisions.


Trivia Questions

You have been selected to take part in the pretest for the construction of a general-knowledge questionnaire.

Please answer the following questions as accurately as possible and in the given order.

  1. How many wives did King Henry the VIII have? _______
  2. How many wonders are there in the world? _______
  3. How many oceans are there on earth? ________
  4. How many suits are there in a common deck of American playing cards? ________
  5. How many planets are there in the solar system? ________
  6. How many countries are there in Africa? ________


Trivia Questions

You have been selected to take part in the pretest for the construction of a general-knowledge questionnaire.

Please answer the following questions as accurately as possible and in the given order.

  1. How many years are in a bi-centennial? _______
  2. How many Dalmatians were there in the popular Disney film? _______
  3. How many minutes are there in 2 hours? ________
  4. How much is the value of 1 dollar, 1 quarter, 1 dime, 1 nickel, and 1 penny expressed in cents? ________
  5. How many days are there in a year? ________
  6. How many countries are there in Africa? ________


Card Game Contents

A cryptic cluster puzzle is a combination of a word association test and a cryptogram. The puzzle displays a list of items that belong to the same category. The items are coded with a substitution code in which every letter of the alphabet is consistently replaced by another letter.

Here is a cryptic cluster puzzle that is based on the article on card games for training. This is an encrypted list of different items that are found on the game cards. Try your hand at decoding this list.

  4. BRDHT
  11. PRGCV

The solution

Online Game

This Will Kill You

In the November issue of TGL, we explored Sequencing, an online game that displays procedural steps in a jumbled order and asks the player to rearrange them in the correct order.

In the January issue of TGL, we included an online game that asked you to arrange different countries in order of their population.

In this issue, we ask how well you know what things could kill you.

Causes of Death

This issue's online game ( ; requires Adobe Flash ), asks you to arrange different causes of death, according to the number of deaths that occurred in the USA in 2007. This game uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ( ).

From Brian's Brain

All About Choices
by Brian Remer

Life is full of choices and Americans, especially, like to have lots of them. We extol the virtues of choice-making and have even elevated it to a national right. Yet most of us would be surprised to understand how many of our choices are not as free as we think. The influences upon our choices are the subject of this issue of the Firefly News Flash. We review the book The Myth of Choice, by Kent Greenfield and find relationships between choice, empowerment, and values. Power Tip: Make sound decisions by staying focused on your values and your ultimate goal.

Read more in the January 2012 issue of Firefly News Flash: .

Scenario-Based Survey

Instant Messages
by Tracy Tagliati

Imagine that you are facilitating an instructor-led training session, and your participants are continuously receiving and sending text messages on their cell phones. You think this behavior is distracting them from the learning activity and negatively affecting their interaction with each other.

I've seen one of my friends manage this situation by incorporating the cell phones into the activity. He simply asked the participants to communicate with each other by sending text messages. In this way, the cell phones became a resource for learning rather than a barrier.

Poll Question

Is this something you would do in a similar situation?


(The poll opens in a new window.)

Open Question

How would you handle this situation if it happened in one of your training sessions?


(The survey opens in a new window.)

You may include your name along with your response, or if you prefer, keep it anonymous.

Survey Results

Positive Facilitation
by Tracy Tagliati

Last month we asked if you often you get a high from facilitating topics you are passionate about.

Here are the results:

Yes: 91% No: 9%
(Percentages reflect 57 votes received by January 31, 2012.)

More than 50 percent of the time: 91% (52/57).
Less than 50 percent of the time: 9% (5/57).

We also asked you what topics you most look forward to facilitating and why. Here were some of your responses:

Response 14) Workshops that debunk popular mythologies and present a contrarian (and correct) view of reality.

Response 13) The need to drive measurable results was in sharp focus.

Response 13) I enjoy teaching topics that are evidence-based and that produce results. At this time these include goal setting, giving feedback, and self-regulation.

Response 6) I love facilitating The Organization Workshop by Power & Systems because it helps participants understand organizations through a human systems lens. It basically teaches positive political skills. It's inspiring to see people leave with a new belief in their ability to make a difference. —Lorna

Response 5) I love facilitating parenting classes. The audience is so engaged and attentive.

See more readers' responses or add your own.

Thanks for your responses.


Solution to Card Game Contents

  4. FACTS
  11. VALUE

Back to the puzzle

Check It Out

Don't Lecture Me

Here's a documentary series in three sections:

Produced by American Public Media, this program is about the way college students learn. Many of the concepts in the program apply directly to corporate training.

You can listen to the program or read a transcript by visiting .

Don't miss a bonus piece, the Reporter's Notebook: .


Here's our latest collection of recommended books. By clicking on the book cover, you can go directly to's web page and browse through the book, check out the table of contents, and read different reviews. You can also order the book. (Full disclosure: Every time you order through this page, we get a small commission, which we spend on buying more books.)

From College Teaching to Corporate Training

I started my career as a high-school teacher and later became a college professor before ending up as a freelance corporate trainer. The skills I acquired in teaching at the university level have been very helpful in training corporate employees. Recently, I reviewed some practical books related to college teaching and selected the five best ones that are directly relevant to corporate training. I strongly recommend these books to trainers.

[Book Cover] What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain.

Here are some interesting findings reported in the book: The best teachers know their subjects extremely well. They prepare to teach by focusing on student learning objectives rather than what they will be doing. Read the book to find out how the best teachers conduct class, treat their students, and evaluate the students and themselves. Then start implementing these best practices in your training sessions.

[Book Cover] Effective College and University Teaching: Strategies and Tactics for the New Professoriate, edited by William Buskist and Victor A. Benassi.

Here's an interesting finding reported in the chapter on the science of learning: Introducing difficulties and challenges during the training session increases retention and application of the new skills. The 23 different chapters in this book deal with such topics as course design, developing rapport with students, learner-centered lecturing, active learning, classroom conflicts, diversity, controversial issues, instructor evaluation, and technology.

[Book Cover] Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors by Linda B. Nilson.

This comprehensive book contains excellent chapters on making the lecture a learning experience, leading effective discussions, and questioning techniques. All chapters incorporate research-based principles for improving student learning and motivation.

[Book Cover] Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers by Thomas A. Angelo and K. Patricia Cross.

Assessment is an essential part of training and this book contains 50 different assessment techniques that are effective and efficient. Each technique is explained in a structured format that includes estimates of time (and energy) required, purpose, teaching goals, suitable uses, examples, step-by-step procedure, uses of the data, variations, benefits, costs, precautions, and references. The book also contains suggestions (and examples) for starting and implementing assessment projects.

[Book Cover] Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley, K. Patricia Cross, and Claire Howell Major.

Collaborative learning involves two or more participants working together in an equitable fashion to achieve intended learning outcomes. This practical book contains detailed instructions for 30 different collaborative learning techniques that are organized in the categories of discussion, reciprocal teaching, problem solving, using graphic organizers, and collaborative writing. The book also contains additional ideas for orienting the students, forming groups, grading learning outcomes, and integrating the learning tasks.