In 2015, while I was at Amity University NOIDA, this idea was sent as a Patent Proposal to our consultants who were managing the Patents for the university. Being a pupil in the EdTech world, I got to learn that software-based patents were not possible. However, this idea has its own value and utility.
Group Discussion remains one of the primary skills in the employability domain. Even on the personal front, we need to be good at the GD Attributes. Be it the skill to initiate, logical thinking, observation skills, critical thinking, respect, leadership, Non-verbal communication, etc. – one who performs SMART is the one who gets rewarded.
At a time when technology was coming to the best of days and when students used to have a concern about their Communication Skills, I got the chance to develop a different approach to GD. More than what I had learned of Group Discussion Skills, my students learned more than that. I did my best to make them realize the power of being ‘no-nonsense’ participants. We had tough drills to enhance the skill to win the GDs. They had a good time not just in classes but in the placements as well.
My Way of Group Discussion:
- The tables/desk were brought to the center of the classroom and students will sit as they are on a square dining table. So, the topic was dropped, and they took 10 minutes to frame the ideas and even make notes. Then the GD will commence.
- Most of the time someone will take the lead and shall emerge as a dominant participant. Now the apprehension was that others will not get to speak, though they have their humble ideas to add to the development of the topic.
- As the observer, I shall use my Veto and instruct the ‘supreme’ to go quiet for some time. This handed a good push to others to speak.
- If I found a student not able to make a proper response or there was one ‘completely silent or clueless’, I would go near and will whisper some points as the trigger. Going by the natural human tendency, they will instantly forward that – now – the trap was open, and they must keep speaking. This worked wonders on all occasions, and I could see a new energy in the discussions.
- Many times, the GD will turn into a debate, and I allowed that for a while. Just by ‘silencing’ a few, the whole discussion will actually become more ‘participative and democratic’. However, the ones who were told to remain quiet will suddenly get the thumbs-up to speak if they have something. The best part was to look at their faces going red with an urge to speak.
- This allowed me to keep them engaged in listening because no one knew when the ‘MUTE or UNMUTE’ will come.
The Idea for GD ‘Simulator’
As the task remains with the teacher to approach them and ‘regulate’ the discussion, I thought of some technology to govern this. Being a naïve and novice in a humongous world of technology, I thought of a Bluetooth/wireless-based set-up that will bring a console to the teacher who will send ‘individual’ instruction into the ear of the specific participant. This can be a tip, a clue, or a strong point to add; it can also be a veto to stop and a call to go ahead with speaking.
Shared here is the exact text of the application/abstract submitted:
Group Discussion is an integral part of the Job Selection Process for youngsters and freshers seeking jobs through campus placements and off-campus employment. Group Discussion is conducted primarily to analyze the ‘Readiness’ of the participant. This Readiness or promptness is seen in the other components such as Leadership, Awareness, Listening, Reasoning, Independent Thinking, Respect, Understanding, Consistency, Credibility, Teamwork, etc. Most often, the trainer/teacher needs to instruct/suggest something to the participants, but it is not done to avoid interruptions. In the training phase/practice stage, the GD participants require clues and instant personalized instructions from the trainer.
GD Simulator - Abstract/Introduction:
GD Simulator (Group Discussion Simulator) serves the purpose of empowered simulation of GD participation. Group Discussion skills can be enhanced through animated and planned ‘Control’ of the Activity. This can be done both in the classroom and in a training session as well. GD Simulator works through various components, which are handed over to each participant. There can be 6 to 10 participants; however, the number of participants can be four as well. This is a Wireless/Bluetooth-based system in which the ‘Student Gadgets’ are connected with the ‘Teacher’ who has an Application on Laptop/Tab/Smartphone as the Controlling Machine. Bluetooth/wireless connection or pairing makes it possible to communicate. The range is kept around 10-15 feet from the activity.
Device Components & Pre-requisites:
- Teacher Device with GD Simulator Application installed
- AP (Audio Prompter) or Ear Piece to the participants
- Vibration Bands for the Participants
- Word to Speech Mechanism in the Controlling Device/Interface
- Pre-recorded instructive-guiding clues/messages
- Bluetooth/Wireless Pairing
- Audio Recording Device Placed on GD Table
So, being a teacher, a flag-bearer of EduSoMedia has not been a normal feeling. It has been a privilege and journey that remains rewarded. The patent abstract was of courses rejected but with a very motivating response.
Students of those days are still present in the life of these days and often share what they felt when they were asked to go silent. In one such episode of Master Ji Ki Diary Podcast, such a query came and was answered to the delight of the learner.
Now, this idea is posted to the public domain, and I wish that it comes to the benefit of someone!