Online Workshop Report SPOTlight on Facilitation & Management 3.0

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

As of April 2020, we are compelled to abstain from organizing offline events due to Covid-19 threat. Many of facilitators are now trying to switch offline contents to online contents. 

We regard this as a new chance to expand our possibilities. Knowledge Signs tries to design new online contents and delivered some of them so far.

We report what it looks like and and give suggestions how the online workshop should be conducted based on our experiences.

It’s not alternative, it’s hybrid  of offline and online which enhances our value

If you try to reproduce the same value of offline event in online event, it won’t work. We should think that online has a different value from offline. If we combine the benefits of offline and online, we will be able to bring newly expanded value.

We delivered “SPOTlight on Facilitation” and “Management 3.0 Workshop” as online workshops so far.

In these workshops, we used ZOOM which many facilitators in the world prefer to use mostly because we can run break-out session like offline group work.

In recent days, some security issues are pointed out in ZOOM. We mention what we should be careful for in the last paragraph of this article.

In this matrix, we classified the style of workshop process in 2 ways, lecture and group work. And it shows what particular case fits to offline or online.

In “SPOTlight on Facilitation” there are 4 dimensions of learning content.

・Process Skills

In offline workshop of “SPOTlight on Facilitation” , both lecture and group work are applied to all 4 dimensions.

Regarding the fitness to online, we decided how offline content and online content should be combined and designed whole contents in hybrid style.  

We cover Knowledge and Practice mainly in online and cover tools and process skills mainly in offline.

This is agenda flow of online workshop

0:00~0:10 Opening & Check in
0:10~0:15 Lecture : How to use ZOOM
0:15~0:30 Self introduction
0:30~0:40 Entry survey review (Using polling function of ZOOM)
0:40~0:50 Pair interview(Using Break-Out Session of ZOOM)
0:50~0:55 Debrief of Pair interview
0:55~1:10 Break
1:10~1:20 Lecture:Core practices of facilitator
1:20~1:50 Individual work : Self check of Core practices(Using Survey Monkey)
1:50~2:10 Group discussion about Core practices (Using Break-Out Session of ZOOM)
2:10~2:30 Debrief Discussion altogether
2:30~2:40 Closing

It might look almost same as offline workshop. Indeed, we can run online workshop almost like offline workshop.

Unlike webinar which dominates one-way lecture, the interaction is very important factor in online workshop. So we need to design the process so that we can easily invite participants to interact.

Recently most of participants are used to video conference tools, it doesn’t bother to engage participants in online communication. In ZOOM, we can use Break-Out Room in which we can divide participants in small groups as if offline group work. 

In small group like 10 members or so, we can see all participants’ faces in gallery view of ZOOM. It brings a similar climate to offline workshop.

In online, we found that people tend to be able to maximize concentration in short period of time. And all voices can be heard equally in terms of audio technical.

Meanwhile, concentration doesn’t last as long as offline. We need to craft ways to engage participants appropriately in short time.

We  shorten the time duration for each activity in online workshop rather than the duration we usually allocate in offline workshop. Because pausing time such as everybody’s silent for a while makes us feel so sluggish in online.

In Break-out session of ZOOM, facilitator can not easily intervene the group due to technical constraint. So we need to design the group work flow tactfully so that participants can spontaneously encourage discussion.

We applied the polling function of ZOOM to run quick survey. It’s very convenient. And also we applied third party tools like Survey Monkey or Google slide which make our work more interactive.

We’re now planning to design more online workshop by adapting our experimental trials.

Tips to run online workshop

We suggest some tips to run online workshops based on our own experiences.

1.You should check out how Wifi works at the location you’re going to host.

Hosting online workshop needs sufficient internet connection. When you try to host from an external venue enacting as if you run offline event, you should check out how Wifi connection works in that venue. Most of venues don’t provide sufficient Wifi connection capacity. Mostly it provides 2.4 GHz and devices which can be connected are limited.

2.You need to associate with co-host who takes on technical matters.

In online workshop using video conference tools, we must care about a lot of technical matters. A host facilitator can not handle not only facilitation for the group but also technical matters by alone. Another co-host facilitator is needed to work through.

These are tasks for a co-host facilitator to handle.

Task 1 : Monitoring Chat

Participants can text chat while taking the session in any video conference tools. Host must respond to it. But it’s so difficult for a host facilitator to pay attention to chat box while facilitating the session.

Co-host facilitator will monitor while the session, and respond it on it’s own decision. And if it’s needed to inform something to a main facilitator, Co-host facilitator should intervene.

Task 2 : Monitoring Audio status

Generally, in online workshop, muting microphone of participants other than hosts is recommended. Host can mute participant’s microphone all at once, but every participant can release mute at any time. And sometimes it causes noise.

Co-host facilitator must monitor audio status of all participants, and mute microphone if it’s needed.

Co-host facilitator can also control who should be spotlighted. In speaker view, someone who makes noise might be spotlighted. Host and co-host can fix spotlighted person.

Task 3 : Handle other technical issues.

Share files or link in a chat box, activate polling or other technical supports are always needed. Co-host facilitator will handle various issues a main facilitator can not cover on it’s own.

3. Audio interface is recommended to monitor your voice.

It’s technically difficult for a host to monitor own voice while using video conference tools by laptop or smart phone. Windows computer provides microphone monitoring function, but it brings delay. If you want to monitor you voice in video conference tools, you’d better use audio interface like a photo below. It has also simple mixing system. And you can monitor your own voice thorough it.


Security Notice for using ZOOM (As of 7th April 2020)

As of April 2020, various kind of security issues are pointed out. There are two points.

  • Vulnerability for the external attack
  • Managing Privacy Policy

For the former one, ZOOM is now eager to update software within days. It is continuously being fixed. And how to manage privacy policy is host’s responsibility.

By doing these policies strictly, we’re likely to prevent ZOOM bombing.

  • Use password for my personal meeting and change it at every meeting.
  • Issue nee meeting ID and password for temporary meeting.
  • Do not allow the audiences to enter the meeting room before the host does.
  • Use waiting room function
  • Do not allow the audiences to share their desktops initially and allow if it’s needed after the meeting started.
  • Do not put out meeting ID and password in public.
  • Obtain email address so that you can inform access info discretely by email and track down if something wrong doing happens.

How should we engagement in online workshop

For facilitators, how to get engagement in workshop and facilitation is very important. We see now in online events, we can bring about engagement like offline events. Meanwhile, it’s different situation. Seeking for the same type of engagement in online as offline is very challenging and it might confuse us.

I think engagement in online events must look like different from offline. We can embrace a little bit lazy and ill mannered fashion in online communication like wearing pajamas or chatting sneakingly.

I think that kind of flexibility should remain even in workshop or business meeting. Otherwise, online communication can not thrive in new era. Facilitator should find new ways to make any events work well in either online or offline by adapting various approaches.

(Noted by  Hideyuki Yoshioka)

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

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