Educational Developers Cookbook

When my children were small quite often I’d be asked to contribute a family recipe to a book which would be collated by the parents’ association, and sold to raise funds for the school. As my children are all grown up but not grown up enough to provide me with grandchildren I was reflecting on this in the run up to Christmas feeling somewhat nostalgic for that time. It suddenly occurred to me that we could do something similar for our own community. While I’m not suggesting we pool our favourite dishes or aim to raise cash, we could crowd source a resource for all to share, using the school cookbook model.

Thus the Educational Developers’ Cookbook was born. The emerging resource is housed on York University’s (Toronto) website. People are encouraged to send their ‘recipes’ to me and I update the site regularly. The recipes are grouped into:

Starters – examples of approaches colleagues have used as ice breakers. These ideas often take up a small amount of time in a course or workshop but can have a huge impact on engagement.

Main course – these are often plans for full workshops, but may be small exercises.

Desserts – ways to get feedback at the end of a workshop or course.

Each contributor is named, and at the end of the recipe they indicate which Creative Commons license applies to their work.

I have provided a template to help format recipes, which can be accessed at the cookbook site. By way of illustration, here is a worked example:


Section – starters (icebreakers)

Your Name, Institution and email – Celia Popovic, York University,

Name of the recipe – When I went on holiday

Ingredients – nothing

Method – each person takes turns to say ;’I am Celia, when we went on holiday I took X (eg a bucket) with me.’ The next person says ‘I am John, when we went on holiday Celia took a bucket and I took a sock.’ The next person says ‘I am Mary, when we went on holiday Celia took a bucket, John took a sock and I took a stuffed rabbit’… and so it goes until the whole group has had a turn. The funny thing is that as people concentrate on remembering the items they feel less anxious about the names, but also have something to act as a reminder to link to the names.

Special Notes – This is particularly effective if you want to get to know names quickly with a group of up to 20 participants as it helps the participants remember each other’s names too, it is silly and fun.

Acknowledgments – This emerged from a childhood game, not aware that anyone showed it to me but can’t claim to have invented it either.

References – probably are some but none to my knowledge.

Creative Commons License that applies – – Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

While I know this is not a novel idea, it seems to have captured the imagination of some highly creative people. The cookbook will continue to grow, so if you have any ideas for new recipes, please do send them to me using the template format. If you do, please send a photo or image as this will make the pages much more interesting and attractive. A photo of yourself would be perfect, or maybe the recipe in action – open to you!

Please do take a look at the site: I hope you find something tasty!

Celia Popovic

Director – Teaching Commons – York University, Toronto, Canada.

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