Flashing Lights

Engineering Area
Analysis & problem definition
Group or Individual
Amount of People
Up to 15
Type of Class
Duration of Activity
Half an hour or less
Type of Activity
Collaborative team setting, On-line Classroom activity


What is this technique about

The flashing Lights Technique is used to reveal the current mood and ideas of the participants in a group. It is a very effective technique for encouraging and expressing ideas, especially for shy participants, as each participant will have their say in turn. Although this technique will be applied as a group activity, it may not work effectively in very large groups.

Where does it come from 

It gets its name from the successive revelation of modes of thinking/feelings and/or ideas.

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

Defining the problem and finding the needed idea is very important in engineering. Thanks to this technique, each of the participants in a workshop or group work is given a chance to generate ideas and present them. At the same time, the ideas of the participants can be a source of inspiration for the next participant.

The method Is also used to evaluate the mood of the participants at the end of the workshop.

How to use it

To use this technique effectively, you must form groups that are not too large and designate a group leader for each group. This event, which will start with a question from the group leader, continues with the comments, questions, and answers of the participants. To avoid wasting time, give participants a specific time and word limit to express their opinions or ask questions. Group leaders can increase the variety and quality of questions so that participants can generate ideas that they can use in larger projects. If you want, you can record the ideas and discuss them later. 

How to implement this techniques online

Preparation, what do before the session

    1. To use this technique in an online group, you need to first choose an online video-conferencing application that has a chat function, and where you can assign your students to breakout rooms if necessary (e.g., Microsoft Teams) .Share the link to the platform in advance with the students.
    2. Make sure that there Is a shared document that is accessible to and edible by all students for documentation. Pre-customize it (make a template if you want. on a whiteboard, prepare the needed number of stickers).
    3. If you want to assign participants to groups, prepare a group list where you also indicate who will be the group leader.

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. Welcome participants and introduce them to the purpose and process of the exercise.
    2. Divide participants into mixed groups and assign them to their breakout rooms.
    3. Ask each group leader to use a whiteboard tool to ask questions and make sure that the answers from each group member are documented (on a whiteboard or in a document – when using the whiteboard.

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. In the final stage of group work, the group leader presents each idea to the participants and a discussion can be created on the ideas.

Examples and/or testimonials

Below  is an example of how the method was prepared and facilitated in February 2021 by a student group during the course “Megatrends and Technological Innovation” held by Prof. Dr. Patricia Wolf at the University of Southern Denmark.

Flashlight Method – SDG Challenge, Group 7, 2021

Please answer the question in our Teams Chat with only three words: “What is your impression regarding our workshop methods and our results?
Thank you for your participation 🙂

Examples of feedback from participants using the Flashlight Method

    • “Variation, innovative, productive”
    • “Pleasant, timely, insightful”
    • “Great, innovative and fun”
    • “Structured, creative, innovative 🙂
    • “Innovative, fun, well prepared”
    • “Fun, well prepared, structured”
    • “Productive, cohesion and prepared”

Tools needed

To apply this technique in an online setting, the following tools are required.

An online video conference tool- such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to communicate and include participants, where break out rooms can be created.

A whiteboard tool:

    • Miro
    • Kahoot



Method description on becreate.ch: https://www.becreate.ch/en/methods?tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Baction%5D=show&tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Bactivity%5D=191&tx_mxnbecreate_pi1%5Bcontroller%5D=Activity&cHash=92d3fd0155783037cb37b96117af1270&L=1

Zoom: https://zoom.us/

Microsoft Teams: https://www.microsoft.com/en/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software/

Miro: https://miro.com/

Kahoot: https://kahoot.it/


Wilson, G., Stacey, E. (2004). Online interaction impacts on learning: Teaching the teachers to teach online. In: Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(1), 33-48. Online at https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1366

Kohls, C. (2016). Creativity patterns: 5 Habits. In: Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP ’16), 9, 1-18. Online at: https://doi.org/10.1145/3022636.3022645