Brainwolking on Psychology of Pervasive Computing course

Written by Aparajita Chowdhury, the course assistant

Let’s take our brains out for a walk!

We have (again) been conducting an interesting activity on the course called Psychology of Pervasive Computing. The course is itself very interesting as it connects different aspects of psychology with interactive technology design. However, as during the previous years, we took an attempt to try out something which is not seen very often in teaching. We made the students leave the classroom and discuss amidst nature. The teacher of the course, Aino Ahtinen, came up with a concept of walking meeting named “Brainwolk” around 2015 and since that we have taken the opportunity to utilize this method in our regular classrooms.

Disciplined students walking and talking in a line on Brainwolk!

On the first weekly exercise of the course, we formed groups among students based on their group assignment topic. In the following activity, we introduced the concept of Brainwolk to the students and took them out for an introductory walking meeting. The idea of Brainwolk is that the participants would walk up to each checkpoint discussing about one particular topic – topics are given in advance. When they reach the checkpoint, the discussion is shortly wrapped up and they need to change the topic. One facilitator walks with the participants to the checkpoint, facilitates the wrap-ups and asks the participants to carry on the walk with another topic. Aino and I facilitated the Brainwolk. We first asked the participants to meet at Tietotalo’s lobby where we gave them their first topic. Then we took a walk around the university campus where we set three checkpoints. The discussion topics concerned, e.g. the students’ expectations and motivations for the group assignment. So, the first Brainwolk acted as a team spirit building activity as well as getting to know each other’s targets.

Let the hair fly!

The whole experience was very refreshing and enthusiastic for the students. There were comments from the students like “I never left a classroom before during teaching” and “This was refreshing and different”. Some groups were also discussing about keeping this as one of their “play rules” of their team. So, we got positive feedback from the students. In fact, they seemed to be energized after the walk and actively participated in discussion sessions afterwards in class. Since Brainwolk was such a hit on the first trial, we opted to execute it once more in a brainstorming session later on. Students were excited to do it again, even on a windy day! Although few groups mentioned that it was difficult to discuss in such a weather, they seemed to enjoy the walk overall.

So far, Brainwolk was successful for exercise sessions and this was the third year when we tried it on the psychology course. Since the students seem to appreciate outdoor activities during regular classroom sessions, there might be a surprise waiting for the next batch (who knows, there might be a walking lecture coming!). We hope students (and teachers!) will continue this trend of Brainwolk for boosting their creativity and energy level!

Have a graceful and energetic autumn everybody!

Cheers, Aparajita

“Can we continue for a little longer?”

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