Audience AS Learning – Speed Networking

As an Innovation and Learning Coach, I have opportunities to partner with the most amazing educators. Meet Emily Bryant, a phenomenal Educational Internship Teacher who is always looking for ways to innovate in her classroom. Over the next three weeks, I’d like to share three ways we used authentic audience AS learning in her classroom.

Our Education Internship Program (EIP) is a dual-credit opportunity for seniors to learn about what it takes to run an effective classroom as interns to gain valuable teaching experience across Liberty Public Schools. EIP students combine their intern experience with classroom instruction which is facilitated by Mrs. Bryant.

Mrs. Bryant approached me about transforming their Culture and Barriers project to intentionally include authentic audience AS the learning process. Students were asked to research, identify, and propose solutions to answer:

What are the barriers to creating an ideal learning environment?


Our EIP students needed more background on how policies, laws, and reforms impact schools. EIP has a college-level textbook and being a 1:1 district, students have ample opportunity to conduct online research. Knowing these resources exist, we debated who really holds expertise in these areas within a school district and how could we capitalize on experience by learning firsthand from our resident experts?

Enter Audience AS Learning – Speed Networking, where we give the concept of speed dating a modern twist by having student teams sit face-to-face with top district administrators in 10 minute interview rounds. Students are prepared to intelligently dialogue about barriers that exist in our current system and debate how we might overcome these obstacles in an effort to build background knowledge about how school systems really work.


Our goal was to help students gain confidence in asking great questions that would not only spur conversation, but also help uncover problems the groups might want to solve. We intentionally chose to use the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to help our students intentionally craft great questions in preparation for their Speed Networking event. We broke the QFT process into the following steps:

(1) Brainstorming – Crafting Questions

All EIP teams added their questions on a shared Google Doc. The benefit of using Docs is that all students were able to see the questions as they were formulated. We found by seeing the work of others, the depth and quality of the questions asked were becoming much more sophisticated. As educators, we were able to formatively assess the teams’ work in real time by listening in and watching their work online. An excerpt of the Doc is shown to the right:

(2) Success Criteria – Framing Questions

As each Speed Networking round would only last 10 minutes, it became evident we needed to address question framing to narrow the focus and provide direction for the discussion. We showed students several examples of similar questions and asked them to think about how different perspectives and expertise of our audience would influence their answers. Were the questions asking what they really wanted to know? What makes a good question and what might make the question better? Here are two examples from our QFT document:

  • Have you ever considered classroom flipping?


  • I read about a flipped classroom, which is where a video teacher is played for the students for HW and it is used as the basis for their learning. Do you think this strategy of teaching will have a positive or negative impact on their learning?

As you might expect, the quality of questions immediately improved once students defined success criteria for framing questions.

(3) Prioritize Questions

Students were asked to prioritize their questions to identify what they were planning to ask, in what order, and how they might logically build upon previous questions. We looked through all of their questions and analysis and gave feedback. We found that using the QFT process truly prepared our students by allowing them to enter the Speed Networking arena with a viable plan and thus developing their confidence for speaking with our district leadership team. We noticed as a result of this intentional preparation, students were not only better prepared with excellent starter questions, but also able to formulate additional questions on the fly.


In order to prepare our district leadership team, we emailed them (below) and sent those who agreed to attend a calendar invite as a reminder of our event with date, time, and location.

Dear ____

As part of a PBL project, EIP students have been asked to identify and provide solutions to barriers within our school system that stops us from creating ideal learning environments.

We are seeking an authentic audience to help build our schema about how schools operate with regards to reforms, policies, and laws and their impact on our local school system.

Please let us know if you are available to participate in short interviews as our students would greatly benefit from your expertise.

Each student group will have 4 Speed Networking rounds that will consist of 10 minute interviews with district administrators. Here is the structure for our Speed Networking event:

1:21 – Students start in EIP room to prepare and walk to flex space for Speed Networking 
1:30-2:20 – Speed Networking will consist of 4 rounds of 10 minutes each. Students will rotate while experts remain in a consistent location.
2:20-2:30 – Experts review Speed Networking and share comments whole group
2:30-2:50 – EIP student reflection in the classroom



Based on the Speed Networking conversations, each EIP team determined a barrier standing in our way of creating ideal learning environments that they will continue to research and work to solve. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will uncover two more layers of audience use that helped our students iterate to find viable solutions.

Thank you to all of our Speed Networking participants for graciously giving of their time to help build background knowledge:

Dr. Heide 2017-18 Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Corum Executive Director of Elementary Education
Dr. Westfall Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development
Mrs. Jones Director of College, Career, and Community Partnerships
Mrs. Reed LPS School Board Member
Mrs. Wickham 2017-18 Assistant Principal
UCM Professors Visitors evaluating the EIP program. Invited to stay and participate in Speed Networking.

Two additional experts joined us a week later due to scheduling conflicts. Mrs. Sullivant, Chief Financial Officer and Mr. Ackerman, Communications and Marketing, provided a wealth of information in finance and public relations. The learning experience our students had networking with this level of leadership shows the dedication and willingness of Liberty Public Schools to give back to students and help them grow.

Join us next week to check out how we built on this experience and used audience to pitch and receive 30% feedback as part of the learning process!


One response to “Audience AS Learning – Speed Networking

  1. Pingback: Audience AS Learning – 30% Feedback |·

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