Duration: 30 min - 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Easy
Group Size: < 20
Level of interaction: High
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Medium
Purpose: Online socialization, Knowledge construction
Type of Online Events: Webinar, Hackathon, Workshop

Engage everyone in generating questions, ideas, suggestions

The 1-2-4-All method is a fast idea-generating method in which all participants within a group engage. First, participants work individually, then in pairs (building on self-reflection), and then in groups of four to share and build on ideas. Finally, participants engage collectively in a powerful brainstorming session. In this method, participants combine know-how and imagination and create strategies with their own ideas. Since everyone in a group contributes, all feel ownership over the ideas generated.

Use this method to:

  • Rapidly generate a large number of ideas.
  • Make progress in a stalled discussion by engaging participants in searching for answers.
  • Enrich the quality of observations and insights before expressing them in common.
  • Build slowly toward a consensus or shared understanding.
  • Foster spontaneous conversation after presenting the main topic, as an alternative to asking: Any questions?

Steps to apply this method to:


  1. Define the purpose of the learning activity and the topic driving the session
  2. Define the tool that you will use and familiarize yourself with its functionalities. Then, if required, prepare the online space for the learning activity.


  1. Brief the participants about the learning activity, its purpose, and procedure.
  2. Explain that, after you have introduced a topic, participants will work as follows:
    individually (5 minute): Participants spend this time in silent reflection on a shared challenge, framed as a question, for example: What opportunities do you see for making this (aim) happen? While participants are silently reflecting and writing down their ideas, play some soft background music.
    in pairs (15 minutes): Participants generate ideas building on those from self-reflection while in break-out rooms. When time is almost over, the facilitator send broadcast messages to communicate the duration of the activity.
    in groups of four (30 minutes): Participants are moved into larger groups in breakout rooms and develop ideas by noticing similarities and differences. 5 minutes before the activity is over, inform groups that they need to identify a reporter.
    as a whole group. Back in plenary, the facilitator asks each group to share one emerging idea. For example: Which idea stood out most during your conversation?

Groups are invited to share one insight and avoid repeating what has already been shared.

Tool Tips

Facilitator tips

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