Desert Island Trainer

There’s quite a famous radio programme on BBC Radio 4 in the UK called ‘Desert Island Discs’, which started way back in 1942. I listen to it fairly often.  On it, famous actors, writers, TV personalities and public figures are invited to choose eight records which they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. They can also take one book; you get a complete set of Shakespeare ‘for free’. Finally, you can choose one luxury.

The programme is compelling for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that it makes you think what you would choose in the same situation. Anyway, it started me thinking about how you might transfer this to the training field. Clearly, as a trainer, being stranded on a desert island would mean you would have no one to train, so it doesn’t quite work, but the conceit is still an engaging one. It might go something like this: if you could only choose four items, apart from your materials, to take with you onto a training course, what would they be?   PowerPoint and a laptop are like Shakespeare in my little game; you get them as standard.  Well, it’s my game:)

So what would my top four be?  None of these are particularly new or revolutionary, but here goes.

1.      Well, as I have my laptop and powerpoint as standard, I’d choose a clicker. Actually, this is the one I have, and it’s wonderful. It means you can basically stand anywhere in the room and move your slides forward  or backward or point at them with a laser. A small investment for a really useful and practical tool. Fantastic!

click me

2.      The other little novelty-which is perhaps no longer a novelty for many- is wordle.  This is a piece of free software- at which makes word clouds out of any text you provide. I find it wonderful for all kinds of activities. There’s one that I made recently and put onto powerpoint for an activity I did with some trainers-in-training on the side bar of this blog.  Needless to say ,participants can also create their own. (Warning:if you want to do this, you have to make the wordle into an image)

3.      A low-tech item that I just have to have is some rolls of flip chart paper. Absolutely essential for making posters, putting up aims, collecting feedback. I really like to use the flipchart for collecting ideas before I even move to PowerPoint. It lets you have a much closer relationship with participants.

Look at that flip chart

4.      Now for another techy toy. I’ve just invested in a flipcam and am rapidly finding that I couldn’t possibly live without it! Great for showing bits of micro-teaching or training and activities.  It’s really small, too, like a camera, so it’s east to carry around.  Here’s mine. Lovely, isn’t it?

So my question is this: what are the items, high- or low-tech which you simply have to have on a training course? I’m looking forward to your ideas.


2 thoughts on “Desert Island Trainer

  1. Great post Sue, very nice idea.

    I’m actually trying to do less and less with powerpoint (or any other slide presentation software) and sometimes now go whole days of training without it. This is not really a dogmatic thing (or even “dogmetic”), more an experiment.

    I think flipchart paper (and sometimes more than one flipchart stand) and a good number of working flipchart markers would be the big one for me. (Coupled with blu-tak and a training room in which there was no problem related to sticking things on walls). My four then would be:
    1. Flipchart paper
    2. Markers
    3. Blu-tak
    4. Coffee!

  2. Hi Andy

    Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about PowerPoint. Good to hear that you’re going cold turkey on it. Are you suffering withdrawal symptoms, I wonder?

    And yes- blu-tak! (as someone recently asked me when I requested it, ‘does it have to be blue?’) A wondrous invention. And coffee, my goodness yes, I must confess I’d forgotten about that important item.

    Anyone else?

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