Walking meeting for supervision – would I try?

The weather was sunny in May 2022, when a group of cheerful and brisk teaching and counselling staff were introduced to Brainwolk walking meetings led by University Lecturer Aino Ahtinen (ITC).

Brainwolk is an active form of working that addresses and promotes common work, supervision, and learning issues. Fresh air, movement and changing environment tune the brain and i.e., problem-solving can be more creative when walking. It also supports well-being and a sense of community.

We started at the Hervanta campus with an orientation moment, where Aino told us about the Brainwolk concept developed in the Pop-Up project and her own Brainwolk experiences in teaching, supervision and work in general. We also got tips on what to take into account when working by walking outdoors.

After the orientation, we walked together for an hour to try Brainwolk in practice. We walked in Hervanta at a peaceful pace along the pedestrian walkways. Earlier, we had received a few questions from Aino for the discussions in pairs. Every now and then we stopped and wrapped up the discussion. It was allowed to change the discussion pair at these stops if wanted.

The group of people standing on a walkway and listening Aino to describe the method.
Photo: Anneli Uusitalo

Participants felt that they had received ideas for their own teaching and supervision, and many of them immediately started to plan when and with whom they would try walking meetings. For example, for getting together at the beginning of the course the method is perfect. One participant said that Brainwolk was an amazing experience and she learned new things and got different perspectives. Although the concept is simple — or perhaps that is exactly why — new networks and interesting ideas emerged quickly.

The group of people walking on a suburban street.
Photo: Anneli Uusitalo

Important when planning the walking meeting

  • clarify the discussion topic or theme you want to promote
  • assemble a group with whom you are working, walking can also be done alone
  • set concrete goals, e.g., 1-3 themes/problems/issues to consider
  • choose a route easy enough and start
  • you can write keywords in your notebook during the walk

Aino’s tips based on her own experiences

Case 1: Walking weekly exercises

  • You can make Brainwolk as part of a group meeting at the beginning, middle or end of the session to get variety for the flow, get energized etc.
  • For example, suits for any kinds of ideation tasks, the team members to get familiar with each other, reflection of learnings etc.
  • Notify about Brainwolk well in advance, and give instructions (shoes, speed of the walk, length..)
  • Always have a plan B on hand

Case 2: Walking teacher tutoring

  • Informal teacher tutoring sessions by walk
  • We walk for 1 hour or a bit more and every student has an opportunity to have a 10 min. chat with the instructor
  • Discussion pairs are changed every 10 minutes.
  • No pre-defined topics, students will choose what they want to chat about, ask etc.
  • Peer support as the students are walking in pairs
  • Worked really great during covid

Case 3: Nature reception

  • Every now and then I have a nature reception open
  • I announce that I will be in the forest and those who want to chat can call in Teams
  • Increases my concentration on the topic discussed, prevents multitasking
  • Sometimes I just go to the forest and ideate by myself

Furthermore, Aino has applied the Brainwolk walking meeting concept with good results i.e., in one-on-one student meetings, breaks, getting together, ideating, reflecting, and giving feedback.

Are you still wondering why the word is Brainwolk and not Brainwalk? Wolk is a combination of the words walk and work. It is possible to combine these two and gain many benefits, as well as variation in teaching and supervision. Why not give it a try?

Anneli Uusitalo, Specialist, Tampere University, Education and Learning

Read more on the blogs:

Health Data Walk: A joint workshop of AI Hub and Health Hub Tampere | Computing Sciences | Tampere Universities (tuni.fi)

BRAINWOLK walking meeting for supervision | Computing Sciences | Tampere Universities (tuni.fi)  

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