Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 51 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Rethinking Online #FacDev: Reflection on #LSOnline20 & #OLCIdeate


Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 51 seconds

I’ve just come out of a week of #OLCIdeate and a full-day workshop on Liberating Structures (offered by these folks here, if you wanted to register for one. I was able to attend courtesy of AMICAL), and I have so many ideas.

First of all, despite being familiar with liberating structures and doing them hybrid and online, despite having loads of experience with facilitating online conversations, despite being v familiar with most of the content in #OLCideate, I still learned a heck of a lot and I am sure some of it will be implicit. I won’t be able to articulate it today, but it will probably influence my practice over time.

However, there are a few small things I want to write down so I don’t forget them, and some resources to share so others can benefit.

First off. Resources in case folks don’t have them:

So some very general learning here:

  • I already do lots of small group work in my f2f workshops and in my teaching.. therefore, logically, I should use breakout rooms on Zoom more. I am now comfortable using them because I have had the paid account for a bit of time, but usually don’t use them much on workshops because workshops are recorded and such. However, the benefit to the people inside the room of being able to have a structured conversation in another room when numbers are bigger than, say, 15, and document it maybe on Google docs is vast. If I have multiple facilitators in the room, then I can ensure someone facilitates the rooms also, but that’s not always necessary. I have used breakout rooms in my class successfully and have demonstrated it to faculty… but I should actually use it with purpose during my actual webinars/workshops to achieve some of the goals of the worskhop itself.
  • There is a lot you can do in a short time. Lots of the liberating structures give v limited time for each step. I was amazed by how much can be achieved in these short time frames, particularly the Troika consulting which lets 2 strangers help you solve a problem in a v short time. It really works! The Mad Tea Party was a very energizing new structure I had not seen and can be a really good icebreaker, whereas the spiral is a slower more reflective activity and is good for grounding ppl at the start.
  • You can do physical activity during a Zoom session. Simple things like get up and walk away, play music and move, freeze when moderator says to, create paper models and share.
  • You can do really simple things that can go a long way. Like just checking in with people about how they’re feeling and asking all to type in the chat. Also some value in sometimes asking all to wait before hitting enter!!
  • You can do really engaging stuff with 100 ppl. Breakout rooms can go a long way, but also chat with some folks speaking aloud after raising hands.
  • You can do some really cool stuff with the annotation tool within Zoom. E.g. using the stamp option for people to indicate interest in something or agreement or where they are in the world or such. V simple and quick.
  • I think why ppl do well in breakout rooms. I think they may be intimidated slightly at first but it isn’t as bad as a large room.
  • I think more facdev and edu should be open and glocal. Develop locally, share globally. As long as we are explicit about our context, audience will be able to transfer reasonably to what makes sense for them
  • My students tended to enjoy being part of global conversations. I am amazed by this. Also their voices made a difference in both the OLC Ideate session i co-facilitated and in the Equity Unbound conversation on wellbeing
  • Speaking of wellbeing. One wellbeing expert in my breakout room during LS workshop said something that helps a lot. We need to be able to choose what works for our wellbeing on a moment ro moment basis. What nurtures me today and now may be different from what nurtured me yday and that’s OK!! Do what feels right in the moment. I realize I focus a lot on wellbeing in my work  context but am less good at doing this at home. Tanya Elias told me something important, too, that modeling self-care may be one of the best things I can do for my child. Acting out of care not guilt

One big idea
I have one big idea for doing a workshop of maybe 2-3 hours or split over two days for folks teaching summers at AUC or across AMICAL, or by subject matter (so STEM separate from humanities/social sciences).
It would have a combination of several things and model equitable student-centered engagement and have an asynchronous part as well (see hacks below). Broad idea is a session that goes as follows
  1. Intro activity where they annotate where they’re at in something using the annotation tool (e.g. which discipline, which country…)
  2. Slow ice breaker. Spiral LS. Breakout rooms of 2-3
  3. Mad Tea Party with several short prompts to get juices flowing (5 sets of pair breakouts in a row)
  4. TRIZ: Prompt: What can you do to make a disastrous summer course online?
  5. Reflect 124All on value of TRIZ and 2 action items
  6. Ecocycle planning (either take a one hour break to do this alone and have a break or have them do it ahead of time before coming in)
  7. W3 reflection
  8. Close out with sharing out of key things they will take out of the day

Can have faculty developers in some of these breakout rooms but not necessarily. Can also do separate Troika consulting days. Ppl come with a problem  and I put them in break out rooms with other faculty and a faculty developer. So we can call it “quick consultation groups”.

These ideas seem scalable to me. I found it so beneficial in the LS workshop and they were ppl from diff countries and fields of work (many healthcare and quality managers and HR not educators at all).

Now I realize that this is a CONTENTLESS workshop. I am totally ok with that,  because we are modeling engagement over Zoom and Google docs. But I am also OK to have some kind of content thrown in there somewhere and have these be only part of the session.

For example, we can do session which focuses on TRIZ, then after they finish, we share key learning from feedback on spring semester, and ask them to go back and see if they addressed these issues, then solicit their solutions to these problems and offer some of our own as well.

Some Hacks

I also have some hacks related to Liberating Structures. For example, with Ecocycle planning, one can ask people to come up with the list of things in their portfolio ahead of time, explain the process. If it’s a team working on same portfolio of things, we can maybe even ask them to vote ahead of time on where things are to avoid personal confrontation and just look at where things end up, where majority think things are. Polling can happen ahead of time or in the moment on Zoom. Both can work. Or we can use the annotation tool as well. So we draw the ecocycle diagram or make it into a table. Each row is something in the portfolio and then ppl put stars or checkmarks next to columns that indicate if the things is at mature, creative destruction or other phases…. and we go with the majority…

I gotta go now… but needed to get that written down.


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