Running a Brainstorm

Capturing content

By default when you 'Start' a Session it will be 'Unlocked', which means that any Participants who have the link to join can enter the Session and start adding content.

If you wish to control when Participants can add content, then as soon as you Start a Session click the Padlock icon to 'Lock' it. You can then lock and unlock the Session as much as you like allowing content to be added or pausing for reflection.

When your Session is started, you will be taken to the Wall, or you can select the Wall option from the Session card.

Once in the Wall the active Topic will show at the top of the screen. Each Topic has a 'Wall' to itself. If you want to edit this you can click on it and edit to change it. If you need to display the link for participants to join the Session, perhaps because you have some late-comers, then you can select the Settings icon . Select the Show Link option to display the join link at the top of the screen.

Also within the Settings menu you can + increase and - decrease the size of the text being displayed. This can be useful to adjust depending on the resolution of the screen you are using to display your wall. The : button will reset the text to its default size.

While the Session is unlocked Participants can add posts to your Wall. If you have set the Session to allow them to control Topics for themselves then be aware that their content may be being added to a Wall other than the one you are displaying. Also, you must have the Session unlocked for content to be added on any wall, even when Participants have control of Topics for themselves.

If you have more than one Topic then you can use the Arrows at the top of the screen to move between them. Participants will add their content to whichever Topic you have active, unless you have configured the Session to allow Participants to control Topic navigation themselves. If you have more than two Topics you will see the option to Jump to Topic , click on the Topic to which you would like to jump.

The menu on the left allows you to interact with your wall:

The padlock is used to Lock and Unlock the Session, it will be shown closed if the Session is Locked or open if it is Unlocked.
If you are editing content and find that edits appear not to take effect but correct after a couple of seconds, this is likely to be due to overlapping updates from the server with changes on your device. To avoid this, lock the session before manipulating or editing content.
Locking the session will stop participants from adding new content to the wall, they will be asked to wait for the facilitator.

The Voting option creates an on-the-fly Poll for you, see the section below for more details.

This option will re-organise your wall. When moving things around, any posts not specifically placed by you will be laid out by the Browser. This can result in things being hidden beneath other posts. Also when moving things in and out of Groups they may not lay-out neatly. If your content needs re-organising to continue working with, then click this option.

This option creates a Group. If you have any posts selected it will add those posts to the Group, if not then it will create an empty Group. You can also use Ctrl + G to create a group. See more on Grouping here.

When you have more than one Topic in your session, then the Move option will allow you to move any selected content from one Topic to another. Posts within groups don't count, either select the group to move, or move the posts out of the group first. You will be asked to select the Topic you want to move the content onto, then the content will be moved and the selected Topic will become active.

The Word-cloud can be a fun and interesting way to analyse your content. It will give you a visual representation of the most frequently used words. There are more details here.

If you are using different coloured posts then these buttons can be used to select all posts of a particular colour. Simply click on the colour that you want to select.

Searching allows you to select posts with a particular Keyword. If you select the 'Fuzzy Match' then this will allow for margin of error, if for example someone has misspelled or transposed letters etc.

You can remove posts, or whole groups by dragging and dropping them into the bin. Also you can select posts and then use your Delete key to send them to the bin. Ctrl + A will select All posts.

The Exit option will return you to your Session list. You can Exit a Session while it is Unlocked and Participants will still be able to add content, or cast Votes.

You can select posts by clicking on them, and deselect by clicking again. You can also drag and drop posts to position them. When you hover over a post you will see some menu options:

  • You can edit the post, which includes changing it's colour.
  • If Participants have uploaded an image, then you will see the image option, which will open the image in a new Browser tab at its original size.

Grouping content

As well as dragging Posts into and out of Groups there are several ways that you can group content.

You can simply select posts individually, and when they are selected click the Group button and this will place all selected posts into that Group.

You can select posts via the Word Cloud, Colour selector or Search (you can then select more one by one, or deselect any that you don't want). Again, once your posts are selected you can then click the Group option to add them all into a Group.

Finally you can Merge Groups, by dragging one Group over another you will be asked if you want to merge them. If you select Yes then the posts from both sets will be combined into a single Group (the Group will be kept from the 'bottom' group, the one not being dragged).

This is a very powerful way of grouping your data, when combined with the various ways of selecting Posts and then combining Selections, with a little practice you will find that you can very quickly combine the groups of posts that you want without having to move them around the screen.

You can Edit the name of a Group and set its Colour by clicking on the Group title. By default Groups are created with a number to identify them.

The group menu allows you to :

  • Promote a Group to a Topic. This can be useful if you want to delve deeper on a particular theme. When selecting this option a new Topic will be added to the Session based on the Group title, you will be taken to the Wall for that Topic (it will be added to the end of your Topic list). Any posts that were in the Group will be copied to the new Wall.
  • Re-order groups. If you have more than one Group in your Topic, this option will allow you to re-order the groups on the wall. When selected, a list of Groups will appear and you can drag and drop them into the desired order.
  • Pin Group. Pinning a group will attach it to the right hand side of the screen. This can be useful if you have a lot of content on your wall and need to organise it manually. With a group pinned to the right you can scroll through your content and easily drag items into the pinned group. You can replace the pinned group by selecting another, or to unpin the group click on the pin icon in the top left of the group .
  • Remove the group and its content. This option will send the group and it's content into the dustbin, the same as selecting it and clicking the Delete key.

If you want to quickly add a new Topic during a Session you can create an empty Group, give it the title that you want and then select the option to Promote the Group to a Topic, this is a very quick way of taking your Brainstorm off onto a tangent if you wish.

Using the Word Cloud

If you have lots of content, particularly from lots of people, then the Word Cloud can be an interesting way to get a very quick anlalysis of the data. It is a fairly crude tool and so you should use it cautiously as there may be lots of reasons for word counts within your content. However we have found that it can sometimes be enlightening as a fast visual metaphor of the content being created.

The Cloud will be based on all the words within the Posts on a single wall. Some words are automatically excluded based on a researched set of words that don't add specific meaning on their own, for example "but", "also", "therefore". But it is also possible for you to exclude your own words if they are 'getting in the way' or skewing the results.

To do this access the settings option in the menu. From here, as well as being able to change the Font used for the Cloud, in case you prefer the look of a different font, you can also deselect words from the list to exclude them from the cloud. You can re-select them from the same place if you want them to reappear.

Also here you can 'Refresh' the cloud to get a different layout (the layout is randomised each time). Or download an image of the Cloud. You can then include this image in the Word report that you can export from vWall if you like.

If you hover over a word in the Cloud you will be shown a popup that will tell you how many times the word appears. If you click on the word you will return to the Wall and all posts containing that word will be selected, which allows you to add them all to a Group if you wish.

Creating a live vote

It is not uncommon that once you have grouped your content you wish to prioritise it. An effective way of doing this is to ask your Participants their opinion. The Voting option in vWall allows you to do this.

If you select the Voting option when you have Groups on your wall, then a Vote will be automatically created for you where the answer options are based on your Group titles.

Alternatively, you can individually select either Posts or Groups or a combination of both. When you have some selections, if you select the Voting option then a Vote will be automatically created for you where the answer options are based on your selections.

If you select the Voting option without any Groups or any selections, then an empty Vote will be created and you will have to add your own answer options.

If you have previously created some Votes in your Session you will also be given the option of running one of those Votes instead of the new one. You can also edit or remove any auto-generated answer options. For the new Vote you will need to select the Vote type if you want something other than the default (Priority Order).

Which ever Vote you choose to run, any existing Open Votes will be closed and the chosen Vote will be opened, allowing Participants to go into their Votes tab and vote on just this Vote. As they submit their votes you will see the Ballot count increase.

When you are happy with the number of Ballots you have recieved you can Close the Vote and the results will be displayed. If there are any Participants who can't see your screen, once the Vote is closed (and no others are opened) they will be able to select their Votes tab to see the results on their own device.

You can return to the Wall by selecting the Exit menu option.