Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Generating Ideas: Conceptual Speed Dating

Subject: Scandinavian Languages and literature. Course: Types and theories of media and Analyses of media in cultural contexts. Study level: Bachelor, 3rd and 4th semester. Class size: 25-45.

Motivation for the activity

I had tried the method myself and noted that it seemed like a good alternative to normal group work.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

To focus on your own learning process in the co-creation of knowledge; i.e. to appreciate the benefit of the shared commitment to dialogue in a group.

Description of the activity

It is the aim of this activity to open up the process of the various degrees of creative involvement, frustration or lack of understanding that we all experience reading a text. However, this often happens individually, and when you discuss a text in a group or in a plenary assembly, you tend to present your approach as finished or final.

In Conceptual Speed Dating diversity of understanding is welcome and each one of us can meet both his/her own method of acquisition as well as the others, and it is fascinating to experience how you can take on other people's thought processes about a text or alter the chain of thought in a process of dialogue.

The aim is thus to open up an awareness of the fact that knowledge acquisition is a creative rather than closed process.

What the lecturer does

The lecturer determine the amount of time to spend on the activity (30, 45 or 60 minutes).

The lecturer choose a difficult passage in a text which everyone has read in preparation for the lesson.

The chosen extract must be decided by circumstances and based upon the discussion in the classroom. The lecturer decides just before the lesson, which section of text is to be discussed.

Once time is up the lesson continues (no recap), but you can have a form of plenum in which you let inspiration flow, as it were, in the common space. Here I can be the one to start with my thoughts and my wonderment.

But you can also just leave it and let its energy act as a motor for the remainder of the class.

What the students do

Everyone is given a copy of the extract from the text.

Then we count 1, 2, 1, 2, after which the 1's remain in their chairs (preferably in a circle) facing an empty chair. The 1's are posts while the 2's are floaters, who move in a clockwise direction each time the bell sounds. The lecturer keeps track of time and rings the bell every five minutes (on the dot). When the bell rings everyone changes place.

Everybody has the same task: to present the text, open it up, to enter into a dialogue about the content and possibly incorporate several parts of the larger text around the quote.

Outcome of the activity

To my experience the effect is: awareness of details in style and expression in the texts chosen as well as curiosity towards the other student’s thoughts, as soon as a space for open reflection is created.

Reflections on the activity

All the texts that I have used thus far have been difficult to crack. And I think that this is necessary. But they must be approachable for your level of teaching. It has been both philosophical texts and texts that work on the basis of philosophical material. They could be an extract of Benjamin's text, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), or an extract by Knut Ove Eliassen or Eva Jørholt's texts on Deleuze. An obvious place in Jørholts text is the piece/quotation on the rhizome and her analysis of this.


Bodil Marie Stavning Thomsen

Professor with Special Responsibilities
H 1485, 535
P +4587163172
P +4525566503