Tip #50: Visual Engagement: Window-Paning

I first learned about window-paning from Bob Pike, who is a very well-known author, presenter, and practitioner of creative training techniques. You can learn more about the Bob Pike Group and their extensive range of creative services at www.bobpikegroup.com.

Window-paning transforms a list of information into framed pictures that are much easier to remember. These “window panes” look like a bank of window panes in a wall, either two rows of three window panes or three rows of three window panes.

Since the brain remembers pictures better than it remembers words, the trainer introduces each key concept by drawing a simple picture or symbol that will represent it and places it into its own window pane. The first concept picture goes into the topmost left pane, the next concept picture goes next to it in the top middle pane, and the third concept picture goes next to it in the topmost right pane, following the sweep of the eye from left to right. The fourth concept picture then begins the process again, going into the left pane immediately under the topmost left pane.

Each concept not only has a picture, but also a physical location. If you use window-paning for a series of steps, it can give the participants a better awareness of the sequence.

According to Laurie Kagan, of Kagan Publishing & Professional Development, a drawing only needs to be 30% of reality to be recognizable. This is happy news for those of us who do not fancy ourselves as artists.

An example of a window pane for six keys to learning retention is attached, which Bob Pike demonstrated in his Creative Training seminar. There is an excellent example of a picture-based window pane, accompanied by a description of the concept each picture represents, on page 65 of Bob’s book: Creative Training Techniques Handbook.

There is another use for window-paning, which does not rely on artistic creativity. It can be used as an interactive exercise designed to identify and clarify thoughts and ideas about a particular topic, with a built-in opportunity to hear from everyone present. The larger group is divided into small table groups of 4-5 participants. Everyone is given a sheet of paper with nine empty cells in the configuration of a window pane (3 cells x 3 cells). In the first pane, each person writes an idea, thought, observation, or concept relating to the topic.

The sheets are then put in the middle of the table and each member of the small group draws out a sheet, reads the initiating comment, writes a response in the second pane, then returns the sheet to the middle of the table. Sheets continue to be drawn out and reactions to the initiating comments and subsequent responses are recorded until the panes are full. Group members then read the sheets, discuss and summarize the contents, and report their observations to the larger group.

Next week, we will discuss the use of mind maps.

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