Synthesize it

During this teaching method, students exchange knowledge with each other in a relatively short period of time. In this activity, students explain the subject matter to each other. This helps them remember the subject matter better. 

Activity goal
Activate prior knowledge |
Assess |
Brainstorm |
Exchange knowledge |
Recap / Summarize |
In class
Hybrid |
Offline |
< 60 minutes
Group size
Small |

Flipovers, pens, markers, breakout rooms in Zoom or MS Teams

Step 1

Divide the students into smaller groups (of 3-5 students).  

Step 2

Divide the topic into several sub-topics and divide these over the groups. Each group has 1 sub-topic. 

Step 3

Give students the assignment to discuss the topic within a certain period of time (e.g. 15 minutes).

Step 4

Each student should write his/her own comment/summary/question in the group document in their own colour. The document may not contain repeats; everyone should deliver unique input. 

Step 5

After 15 minutes, each group ‘relocates’ to another topic. They are now given 5-10 minutes to make a new document (synthesize it) in which they produce a summary of the original document. The document must contain the perspectives of the original document. 

Step 6

After this, all synthesized documents are shared and all students can view the input. 

Step 7

To close the session, discuss the outcome of the synthesized papers together with the group and discuss which information is missing or is insufficiently detailed. 

  • Tips

    • This teaching method can be used online, offline or in a hybrid form. Offline, you work in a room with flipcharts. Online, students work in breakout rooms and in a document/whiteboard. For the hybrid form, you can create both online and offline groups. Have both groups work in a digital document that is shared with each other at the end of each round. 

    • Also use statements or questions as topics for students to respond to and discuss.

  • Consider the tools and materials mentioned here as suggestions. In many cases it’s possible to use alternative tools. Please turn to the Learning & Innovation team of your faculty (EUR or EMC) first to see which online and offline tools are available and how to apply them. 


    Flipovers, pens and markers in various colours.


    Use breakout rooms in MS Teams or Zoom


    Use a screen and a computer to share the input of the online group with the offline group.